When children struggle to talk, use play and activities to help them relax and create an informal and safe space for them to express themselves. Sitting your child down to discuss things may make them feel pressured, but gently asking questions about what they’re doing when they play gives them a subject to start with. You may also find that they are able to use their toys to communicate with you rather than directly from them. Whatever way they feel comfortable is a good starting point.
Hug-a-Bug World toys are designed to help your child communicate through them, if this is something they need. They are also designed to give them comforting support. Some children like to hold a toy, like a friend, to help them through.
Encourage your child’s way of communicating to help them out of their shell. If your child struggles, imposing your ‘correct’ way of communicating may be too difficult for them. If you can go with the flow and allow them to release, in their way, even if it seems strange, you will build trust in them which will support them to feel comfortable and express themselves more.
Actively listening to your child is just as important as encouraging them to speak. If we don’t pay attention to what they say they will feel unheard. If they already struggle with speech, they will struggle all the more if they don’t feel people value what they say. Children pick up on subtleties and can think that if someone doesn’t listen to them their words aren’t worth saying. Listening will encourage them to speak. Active listening in particular, which is when you stop to focus only on what you are hearing, makes a huge difference to how well your child feels heard.
If your child struggles with words, remind them that they are learning and everyone makes mistakes. Encourage them by pointing out how well they are doing. If they stumble over words, suggest they take a breath and slow their speech. Suggest words to them or start a sentence for them to assist if they seem stuck. Commend them for what they are able to do.
Remember to keep in mind that our responses to what children talk about has an impact on whether they will continue to open up or choose to shut down. By building their skills and encouraging them to share you will support their growth. Laughing and ridicule may inhibit them. Think about your responses, and deal with your own emotions separately, as children can retaliate or shut down altogether if we react badly.
Tips for encouraging your child to open up:
- Ask gentle and supportive questions rather than questioning them
- Remain open to what they have to say, even if it is difficult to understand
- If their words are unclear, you can simply nod or ask them if you’ve understood them correctly by sharing back what you think they mean
- Validate their experiences and feelings
- Respond to their questions and give examples
- Don’t take things personally if they seem angry through frustration.
Sometimes getting outside to explore nature provides new things to talk about, away from everyday problems.Support your child to ask questions, explore the space around them and talk about what they see. Name things that they’re unable to, as an opportunity to educate them with new words. You can also teach them empathy through educating them on the importance of taking care of animals, plants, trees and flowers.
Get creative with how you encourage your child to speak, away from the mundane of the every day.
We have many activities on this website to support you. Doing outside activities with others will help your child’s awareness, social skills, ability to communicate and their team working abilities. Finding the fun in their development will encourage them to open up, use their mind, relate to others and look after themselves and the world around them.
3 Take aways:
When children struggle to talk, use play and activates to help them relax and create an informal and safe space for them to express themselves.
Hug-a-Bug World toys are designed to help your child communicate through them, if this is something they need.
Actively listening to your child is just as important as encouraging them to speak.
What does your child struggle with most, and what could you do to encourage them to open up?