How do I get my kid to talk? (Part 2)

4 secret hacks to Getting your late talker to talk. (Part 2)

How do I talk to a child that doesn’t respond back? What do I say? How do I say it? That leads us to Hack number two:

Parallel Talk and Self Talk

First a child must be shown that language has Value (link to blog what your pediatrician wont tell you). Then we create opportunities to immerse the child in the language. The first hack was all about immersing through Auditory bombardment (Link to blog part 1). The next two hacks are strategies of modeling language in order to bombard their system with good models of the language. The forth will teach you how to put it all together.

Parallel Talk is simply narrating what the child is doing in simple words and phrases. You are “parallel” or playing alongside them, in close proximity, putting words to their actions.

Self Talk is narrating what you are doing as you are doing it. Within ear and eye range of the child, they may or may not be directly attending to your words/actions but they are exposed to them.

It looks like this:

Parallel Talk: Mom and Annie are playing with dolls. Annie picks up the doll, Mom comments, “pick up baby” at the same time Annie is performing the action of picking up the doll. Annie holds the doll and begins to rock it. Mom comments, “Rock baby. Back and forth, back and forth”. Annie grabs the binkie. Mom comments, “Pickup binkie. Binkie in mouth. Rock baby. Back and forth back and forth” at the same time Annie is performing the action. Annie is not responding or commenting towards Mom but she continues to play with the doll. She HEARS Mom’s words. She is pairing the action and the words. After continued exposure to this type of language play, Annie begins to comment or narrate her own actions.

Self Talk: Mom and Annie are playing with dolls. Annie picks up a doll. Mom picks up a doll and says, “Pickup baby. Hi baby. Rock back and forth, back and forth” Mom sets the baby down, “Baby down.” Mom picks up the binkie, “Binkie. Baby binkie” and places the binkie in the doll’s mouth, “Binkie in”. Meanwhile, Annie is doing one of two things:

1. Her own thing with no apparent attention towards Mom’s actions. This is normal and ok. She can hear you and is listening.

2. She stops. She is watching, listening, looking back and forth between you and her doll. She may even begin to mimic your actions and pretty soon, your words.

These are two powerful forms of auditory bombardment. Look for opportunities to narrate their and your actions.

Such opportunities as: diaper changing, getting dressed, preparing their food, playing with cars, dolls, blocks, crayons, paints, park time, going for a walk, etc.

You may have noticed in the examples above, ‘Mom’s’ English was short and choppy. She did not speak in complete sentences. During therapeutic play, where the goal is to promote and provide opportunities for the child to produce language, it is important to keep your utterances (or sentences) to no more than one or two words beyond that which the child is producing. This doesn’t mean they can’t understand full English; this strategy simplifies production into a format the child can successfully reproduce.

For example, Annie wasn’t talking at all, so, the ideal phrase length would be one to two-word phrases. If the child is talking in one-word, you speak in two-word to three-word utterances. This does not mean Mom abandons proper English in all circumstances only during those therapeutic interactions where you want to promote an expressive response. Good modeling is powerful and dynamic. It will change throughout the growth of your child’s speech and language. They hear you, keep talking.

Give this a try with a little one in your life. Comment below with what happened. Tell me what words you want to hear your child say and I’ll give you some ideas for teaching. Then click our blog to find out our 3rd and 4th hacks. I am going to show you how all four fit together simultaneously.

If you’d like to know more about private speech therapy and our elite family-centered treatment plans, schedule a free consultation or call 801-987-6333


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The content of this website does not serve as medical advice nor does it substitute for a thorough medical evaluation by a health care practitioner. It also does not represent the opinions of any of the mentioned medical institutions or practitioners. Consult a physician or local health care provider before changing your health care regimen.