Speech imperfections are not uncommon in children and there are things you can do to support your child’s growth. There can be a number of factors that determine a child’s development in speech and language. Some of those factors are beyond your control–be it hereditary, growth patterns and physical maturity, or their environment–any of these can play a role in their development.
What to Notice
If you are feeling concerned about your child’s speech development, the first step is to start taking notice. Stuttering, lisps, and lengthy pauses in speech can all be indicators of speech imperfections. Hearing problems can also be associated with speech issues as well. Having an understanding of speech and language development benchmarks can be useful to tracking your child’s progress.
Ways to Help
Reading books aloud with your child can be one of the most beneficial ways to boost their speech and language development. It exposes them to higher levels of vocabulary and helps their brain build recognition of speech patterns.
Talking, reflecting, and sharing can not only help your child with their verbal expression, it can increase memory and listening skills. Help your child see the value in words both as ideas and forms of expression. Spending time talking with your child will allow you to build deeper connections and understand their thinking. If you need prompts to help get the conversation going try looking at family photos or chatting about a recent activity you did. Take a family trip and discuss the experience before, during, and after. The more you talk the more practice with speech your child gets.
When challenges are present, it’s normal for our brains to become overworked and stressed. If your child is uncomfortable, avoid forcing them to speak or correcting their speech, as this can lead to increased stress or feeling of shame. Instead find ways to relax with your child. Take time to slow down and spend some quality time together. Follow your child’s lead and let them become the center of attention. This will not only help to calm the emotional stress, it can also build self-confidence and acceptance.
Helping your child with speech imperfections is ongoing work. Seeking the help of a professional is the best way to support your child’s speech development–allowing you to identify their precise needs. Children experiencing issues in speech development benefit from the support and understanding of their struggle. Spending quality family time can alleviate the pressure and offer your child plenty of verbal practice in a safe and loving environment.