I’ve decided to provide to speech strategies for those of you who are dealing with communication difficulties with your children.  Or you simply want to be aware of things that you can do encourage language development in your children.  I currently use these strategies with my families. 



Some of these strategies can be used with preverbal children as well.  I hope they are helpful to you.



     v    Transition from a bottle to a cup.

Specialists recommend a complete weaning from bottle to cup around 12 months. 


v  Wean from pacifier.

Specialists recommend pacifier weaning around 6 months.  The pacifier decreases motivation for verbal communication due to an occupied mouth.  Children will not be able to participate in exploratory play with their mouths and sound play if they are busy sucking on a pacifier.


v  Create a need for communication.

o   Do not anticipate your child’s needs. 

o   Give your child an opportunity to communicate his/her wants and needs.

o   Provide choices between two things.


v  Decrease use of yes/no questions.  The person who asks the yes/no questions ends up speaking more than the child speaks.  Children can answer yes/no questions without speaking.


v  Decrease use of non-specific words such as there, it, here, etc.


v  Talk about what you are doing and what your child is doing.


v  Spend time playing “make believe” with your child.


v  Associate sounds with actions.  Ex. Car “beep, beep”  water “pa, pa, pa”


v  Socialize your child with other children and adults.


v  Encourage use of words.

o   Redirect your child with phrases such as “I don’t know” and “use your words”.

o   Praise your child for following directions and using words.  Ex.  “I like when you…” and “Thank you for listening.”


v  Encourage your child to be independent.

o   Give your child the opportunity to complete tasks he/she can do by himself/herself.

o   Give your child the opportunity to sleep by himself in his own bed.  This will help him/her develop confidence, self-calming, and decrease his/her anxiety.



Remember that, initially, change is hard.  Children express their frustration and protests through crying.  The more attention the child receives while he is protesting, the longer and harder he/she will cry in order to continue to receive your attention. 



Remember that crying is developmentally appropriate for your child.  All children cry.  This is the way children learn to console themselves and self-regulate their emotions.  Strive to give your child positive attention and praise him/her during his/her successful moments and accomplishments.



It is understandable that at the beginning change is difficult for everyone in the home.  It is important not to give up and to stay determined in order to see a significant change in your child’s communication skills and social-emotional behavior.