General Strategies

To Help Your Child Learn More Effectively




The strategies described on this page are general in nature and can be used with children of all ages and needs.

We have additional tips for working with babies (infants and toddlers) in the form of short video clips here.

Tips to Keep Those Hearing Aids (or Implants) In

Now, your child has hearing aids and the challenge might be to keep them in. It is very important that you go ahead and develop the habit of putting your child’s hearing aids in his/her ears every morning and leave them in till its time for bed. Here are some tips and tricks to help you keep those aids in!

1. For young children, use huggies to prevent the hearing aid from falling out of the ear. An audiologist should be able to provide these.

2. In case of young children, tie a piece of fishing line at the base of the earhook of each hearing aid. Connect the other end to safety pins and attach to the back of the child's clothing. This prevents hearing aids from getting lost should they fall out by accident or the child pulls them out.

3. When continuous feedback is a problem, a quick remedy is to put a layer of petroleum jelly on the earmold. This will provide a better seal in the ear, and can stop the feedback for a short period of time (until new earmolds can be made).

4. Always check the opening of the earmold for wax. Often, wax can move around in the child's ear canal and intermittently block the earmold. Small pieces of pipe cleaners can be used to remove this wax from the earmold.

5. Cracks in the earmold tubing are a very common problem, especially when a child pulls on the tubing to remove the earmold. A small bottle of liquid plastic (obtainable through an audiologist) is very useful to repair such cracks until the tubing can be replaced.

6. The volume control wheel of many hearing aids tends to become loose and can rotate accidentally due to the child's movements. Most hearing aid companies can provide volume control covers that willlock the volume control in the set position.

7. Use rubber bands to gather extra lengths of cords on FM systems. If the cords are too long, crisscrossing the cords behind the chiild's back before plugging them into the receiver will prevent tangling.

8. When you use the FM transmitter, avoid wearing long necklaces which can rub against the microphone. A larger microphone clip can help keep the microphone from rubbing against clothes or jewelry since this can mask the speech completely.

How to Ensure Your Child Can Hear You

Make sure you are close enough to him. When you talk to your child, you need to make sure that you are always close enough to him that you are sure he can hear you. To find out how far away you can be, you can use the Ling six sound test that you do every morning. Find out how far from him you can be before he stops detecting the Ling six sounds. At this distance, your child is able to tell that you are saying something, but not necessarily be able to tell the difference between the sounds.

When talking to your child in natural conversation around your home or outside, make sure you are closer than the distance at which he can detect all the six sounds. This will ensure that he is able to hear ( not necessarily understand) what you are saying.

For example, if a child is able to detect all the Ling six sounds at 3 feet, then you need to always be within 3 feet from him when talking to him. Remember that this is in a quiet room. Noise will make it more difficult for your child to hear - so try to turn off appliances and other equipment such as the TV or radio in your home when you are in the same room and talking to your child.

How to Ensure Your Child is Using His Listening

We want your child to learn to understand what he is hearing through his listening. This means that when he is not looking at you he is still able to understand you. This is a gradual process, but there are some strategies you can use so that he focuses on what he hears rather than what he sees.

1. Always try and draw his attention verbally by calling his name. Try to have his attention on objects in your hand or the activity you are doing so that he isn't looking at your face. This doesn't mean that he shouldn't turn and look as part of natural conversation, but we don't want him to be continuously watching your face in order to understand by lipreading.

2. Continue talking to him when his back is turned and he is doing something else. You will need to use phrases and sentences that require a response so you know he has heard you and understood you. For example, a three year old might be playing with blocks when you go behind him and tell him its time to put the blocks away. If he doesn't do it, you can say it again once you know you have got his attention. If he still doesn't respond, tell him that you're going to put the blocks away and begin doing so. Over time, he will begin responding when he hears you.

3. Always talk first, then show him what you are talking about. For example, if you are cooking and want to teach him phrases like pour the water, cut the carrot etc., you would say " Let's pour the water in the pot. " Then show the empty pot and get the water. Repeat the sentence again just before you pour. Notice that the first time, there was no context -- you didn't show the pot or water. This allows your child to focus on what he heard. The second time you say it, he hears the same thing again but now you show him the pot and water. Finally, you actually pour the water and use the sentence again to tell him what you are doing.

These approaches will help your child maximize his listening skills not just when you do his lessons, but throughout the day.

Listening Cues

We all know that at times all children ignore adults even if they hear them. Your child will do this too. It is important to make sure he is paying attention to what you are saying.

One way to do this is to use verbal cues that let him know he needs to pay attention. In the very early stages of listening, this can be taught during your lessons. Pick some several key words or phrases that you can use consistently. A word such as 'listen!' or a phrase such as 'I hear that!' and later your child's name are all good verbal cues. Use a strong, firm voice so that your child can understand the pattern of the sound even if he doesn't understand the actual word or phrase.

When you begin your lessons, use these phrases often just before you begin an activity. Then watch for the child to quieten and wait for the activity to begin. It helps to have a routine where you have a box for your activities. Once your child has quietened, put your box on the table, say 'listen!' again, then begin your activity. Slowly increase the amount of time your child has to wait for the activity to begin. To get an idea of how much time, start out by counting to five slowly in your head, then begin the activity. You want your child to be able to wait until you count to ten silently, before beginning the activity.

A child who is waiting quietly and attentively, is said to have the 'listening posture'. The more often he is able to use the 'listening posture' during lessons the faster he will learn.

Rules for Talking

1. It is important to establish certain rules from the very first day with respect to verbalization. With young children, only verbal attempts at communication should be recognized. Many of the activities ask you to wait till the child asks or comments on something. Waiting, to give the child an opportunity to verbalize his thoughts is often the hardest thing you will do. Once spontaneous verbalization for conversation and requests has been established, practicing speech sounds or sentences so that they become intelligible is much easier.

2. Verbalize every action and use the cues "I hear that!" pointing to your ear to indicate to the child that you want him to pay attention to what he is hearing. Make sure that what you say matches what you are doing at the time.

3. `Listening' to the child's initial verbal attempts is crucial. Meaning can be obtained from the context, and the vowels and consonants the child uses provides you with valuable information regarding what the child is hearing and processing.

4. Longer phrases are easier to hear and understand than single words. So always use more than one word when talking to the child. When lessons have single words or sounds as targets they should always be used as part of a phrase or sentence.

5. In the beginning, children pay attention to what they heard last. So use your key word at the end of the sentence. Later, as your child's ability to understand increases, the key words can be in their natural place in the sentence.

6. Avoid using too many questions or directions. For example, using 'Do you want to sit down?" or just "sit down" doesn't really encourage your child to say anything. Instead, use conversational sentences such as " I like the yellow chair" or " I'm going to sit down" and then look at your child expectantly waiting for a response.

There are also specific techniques you can use when talking to children who are learning spoken language and are beginning listeners. These are self-talk and parallel talk. These are described in the AVT-auditory-verbal techniques section.

Teaching By Example - Modeling and Waiting

There are two primary approaches we can take to teaching your child. The first is where you are 'telling the child what to do and what to say not just during the lessons, but also in everyday communications around your home. The other is where we let the child listen and see how others are communicating and using language in a conversation or what we call a communicative context.

This second approach works much better with children. Not only do they learn the language, they also learn how to use it in everyday situations. For example, a child may be able to say " more juice" because you've taught him to say it and through imitation, he says it very clearly. This doesn't mean that he understands that he needs to say this by himself when he actually wants more juice.

In a model and wait technique, you would have someone else ask for more juice in a complete sentence and then give them more juice. Then, wait for your child to ask for more. If he doesn't, ask the third person again. If you don't have another person to help you do this, you can use a toy or puppet who will 'talk'. Again, wait for your child to say 'more juice'. You can accept what he says even if it is not perfectly accurate in terms of the actual sounds. His intelligibility will develop over time.

The idea is that your child listens to the language and sees what happens as a result. This helps him to learn not only what it means and how to say it, but also to use it appropriately by himself.

Creating the Need to Communicate

You may be thinking "My child isn't talking to me yet, but I know he understands me!"
First of all, remember that children understand language long before they use it. A newborn takes almost a year to use its first meaningful word. So your child needs lots of listening time and needs to hear the same things over and over again.

In addition to the listening time, the most important part of learning spoken language is creating the need for your child to talk. When you anticipate your child's hunger and sit him at the table with all his food and feed him; keep all the toys within reach, so your child can play with them whenever he/she wants; narrate everything without giving your child an opportunity to verbally respond to you; your child may not be motivated to talk to get what he wants since he get everything he needs without asking.

These are not wrong things to do, they just need to be balanced with allowing your child independence and the chance to communicate with you.

Creating the need to talk without frustrating your child is one of the most important things you can do to help your child develop spoken language. Your child needs to learn the idea that
a) he can use his voice to get what he wants
b) he can use his voice to call mommy or an adult
c) when he uses his voice, he gets what he wants very quickly and adults respond immediately

As he learns these ideas, talking will be habitual and using his voice to talk to you will become natural -- even if you don't yet understand anything your child is saying. Here are ways you can create the need to talk at home

1. Respond immediately when you hear him say something while playing by pointing to your ear and telling him "I hear you!" ; followed by a sentence about what he is doing, For example, your child might be near his ball and you hear him babble something . You would point to your ear and say "I hear you! You want the ball. Here it is! Let's bounce the ball". He will soon learn that saying something gets your attention and what he wants very quickly, and he will begin to talk (as opposed to gestures or meaningless sounds) more.

2. Create situations where he must ask you for something e.g., keep items in closed containers he can't open or keep favorite toys up on a shelf where he can see them but not reach them.

3. Wait for the child to ask for something even when you know what he wants,. Sometimes you can prompt the child to tell you by saying "Tell me what you need". Other times, or with children who are reluctant to talk, its important to turn your attention away from the child until he/she says something. So you can say "I don't hear you. Tell me what you need" then physically turn around and do something else in the same room. When you hear him say something, turn around immediately and say "I heard you. You want to drink some milk! Here it is."

4. Give the child choices from the very beginning rather than a question that requires a yes/no answer. For example, use "Do you want milk or juice?" rather than "Do you want some milk?" This forces him to say "milk" or "juice" rather than nodding his head yes or no, pointing, or reaching for the drink.

Don't feel overwhelmed! The best way to start doing this is to think of three times during the day when you can use these techniques. Slowly try to use these techniques for all the daily routines, and pretty soon you will be using these techniques throughout the day. Make sure you teach relatives and babysitters to behave this way as well!

Teaching Versus Testing

When you are helping your child to listen and talk, it is very easy to fall into the trap of constantly testing the child to see if he is able to do the task. When you first introduce a new skill, your child may not be able to do it at all, and some children who are a little shy may not even try. That's perfectly alright. Always give your child the opportunity to try, and if he doesn't try or is unable to do the task, you show and model the correct behavior for him. You will need to model what you want him to do quite a few times and it will take repeated practice before he will be able to do the task on his own.

When your child begins to do the task correctly several times during lessons as well as throughout the day -- you can go ahead and 'test' by recording how many times he can demonstrate a skill correctly.

An example of testing is when you call the child's name repeatedly for no reason and he doesn't respond, so you stop and do something else. The same activity as a teaching task would mean that you call his name, if he doesn't respond, you draw his attention to you and tell him to listen, then call him again. Make sure you have a real reason for calling him though, otherwise he will tune you out.

Another example of testing would be when you are practicing identifying objects. You ask him to pick out an object, and if he is unable to, you go on to the next one. The same activity done as a teaching activity would be where you ask him to identify an object, if he is unable to do so, then you find it for him, have him listen to its name again, both of you talk about the object and then go on to the next item.

Throughout the day, it is important that you have conversations with your child, providing lots of repetition of words and sentences, and don't worry about testing him.

How to Build Anticipation Using Language

Before your child actually understands words or phrases, he can listen and associate a variety of actions with the different intonation patterns you use when talking. Many games you play with your child require the child to listen and anticipate what is going to happen next. Even babies can learn to anticipate e.g. when you say “tickle tickle tickle” before you do it, and baby begins to laugh and squeal, that is anticipation developing.

Why is anticipation important? This is a very important stage in the language learning process as well as in the child’s thinking skills. It is a skill that young children develop as they learn to understand what they are listening to. Once a child can anticipate something based on a phrase or specific sounds, he learns to pay attention to what he hears, and knows that he needs to expect something to happen. Examples include “I’m going to get you!” before chasing a toddler, or with an older child “ ready or not, here I come!” while playing hide and seek. This skill lays the foundation for future language learning, when your child will need to respond appropriately to what other people say in conversation, or anticipate what happens next in a story.

How do you develop this skills? Well, the best way is to make sure that you

i) Choose specific phrases with a lot of intonation that you can say before routine actions; e.g., "Phew! Let’s change your diaper!” or, “Time for a bath. Splash splash splash!” or, with slightly older children, counting backwards from five before putting toys away.

ii) Make sure your child is focusing on listening by using the word ‘Listen’ to ensure his auditory attention.

iii) Use these phrases consistently, and before you actually do the action.

iv) If your child doesn’t show that he’s anticipating the action, repeat what you said and then do the action, or have the child do the action.

You will know when your child has developed this skill when he reacts to what you say -- he might run away when he hears you say ‘Change your diaper’; or he might get upset and hide his toys when he hears you counting backwards because he doesn’t want to put them away. As always, using this strategy consistently will help your child develop this skill faster.

Holding Out for Better Communication

When you first begin working with your child, you will usually have to wait for the child to vocalize to establish a verbal habit. After a while, your child will begin to ‘say’ things to you which you may not understand. It is very important that you expect a little more from your child from week to week as he shows he is developing verbal skills. This means that if your child is vocalizing, begin expecting better approximations of words; if your child uses single words, then expect 2-3 word phrases; if he is using short sentences, then expect longer ones.

How do you do this?
First, be a good listener! Over a period of time, you and your family will begin to understand your child’s verbal attempts, but others may not. Even when you understand what he wants, it is important to help your child to say the phrase/word better. Some strategies you can use are:

1. Model the correct word/phrase/sentence and have the child attempt it again. If the child says “ ah ah oo” and you know he means “I want juice” you can say “ Oh -- you want juice. Can you tell me again -- I want juice!“ and the child will imitate your production. Be careful not to use this too frequently since you don’t want the child to be constantly repeating what you say.

2. Give choices to the child in a puzzled tone: Did you say _________ or did you say _______? This forces the child to say what he wanted again and he might be able to imitate it a little better. This is a really good strategy to use. The child will still imitate, but in a more natural way.

3. Emphasize and use acoustic highlighting for the parts of the sentence the child said incorrectly, e.g., if the child says “ Look at the bog!” you can say “ I see a dog, did you see a bog or a dog?

4. For children who are 3 years and older, you can emphasize a sound that you know the child can produce, but tends to say it incorrectly. For example, if you know your child can say a ’t’ as in top, and table, but tends to leave out the sound when talking, or says a ‘p’ sound instead, you can emphasize the sound by saying “ I think you want to say top -- with a t t t - can you say that for me?’

Remember, DO NOT OVERCORRECT. A rule of thumb is to give your child 2-3 chances to say the word/phrase/sentence better, then accept his utterance and continue the conversation. If your child is really trying to say a lot and is ‘talking’ with long utterances --- don’t correct anything. Let him finish talking, then you can have him retell parts you didn’t understand by giving choices.

If your child demonstrates frustration with any attempts at getting better spoken language utterances, try using modeling with a stuffed animal or favorite character toy. This will take the child out of the ‘hot seat’ and he will be more likely to make the effort to use more accurate spoken language.

Let the Child, not the Lesson, Lead

Don't get stuck in the lesson if your child is excited about something and wants to talk about it.
Use it to achieve the lesson objectives.
Remember, your child controls the activities, you control the agenda!

How to Do Structured Activities

1. First of all, a structured activity in my book is an activity that provides the child repeated practice with a specific skill or skills. This is in contrast with a natural activity where you go with the flow of what is happening. The daily chore of washing dishes could be a structured activity or a natural activity depending on how you do it.

2. Many moms and dads find it easier to have a time of day when they do some special activities for listening practice. It also helps with a younger child to have a high chair pulled up to the dining table or an infant seat on the floor. Preschoolers will enjoy a special mat or a small table and chair. The space could even be a spot under the tree or on a porch. Your child needs to associate the space with fun listening practice. Having the same space will help the child get into a listening mode.

3. Infants and toddlers can only attend for short spurts to a highly focused activity. Alternate your activities between high focus and silly fun games. This way, you’ll be able to spend about 30 minutes in a chair with a very young toddler. Older children can of course be kept engaged for longer periods of time.

4. Use your home -- your ‘listening’ area will be your base. Start off here, do activities around your house and come back to your listening area to finish the activity. For example, you may start by having the child listen to some phrases in your listening area before getting your child’s meal ready (food or bottle). You take out the key items you need after the child has heard you say them. Then you and the child go into the kitchen, make his meal and come back to your listening area to ‘listen’ and eat/drink.

5. For reluctant 2- and 3-year olds -- have a system of 3 boxes. Each box has an activity, and after the third box, do your child’s favorite thing, e.g., go outside and play.

6. Capitalize on times when your child is already seated, e.g., mealtime and snack time. These can be extended so that you get blocks of 20-25 minutes at least two or three times a day.

7. Decide on one or two things to focus on throughout your listening time activities.

8. Try to do activities similar to real-life events so that your child can transfer his listening skills to everyday life and use them.

How to Practice Listening Around the House

Your child learns to listen and understand words and phrases by hearing them used repeatedly in daily activities.  This means that while you do need to do structured activities, you also need to help your child practice listening skills all day long. 

You can do this by thinking about all the things you do routinely. Think about the kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom, and yard. In the kitchen, you can involve your child during your daily cooking. Give him practice listening to different directions, or ask him to get things from the refrigerator for you.  You can make the sentences short or long based on what your child needs to practice with. So if your child is still learning single words, focus on the names of the food items, and have him listen to the action words, e.g., "Where's the potato?"  "We need to peel, peel, peel it. Then you can help me cut it!" If your child is at a higher listening level, you could give him directions using more than one step, e.g., "Wash the potato first, then peel it for me. We're going to cook it!" Make sure your child's attention is on what you are doing, and not on your face, so that he uses just his listening skills.

Similarly, you can have a set of vocabulary, phrases, and sentences that go along with each room in your house.

So, as you go through your day, you can engage your child in everything you do, while helping him learn all the vocabulary and language related to the house.

Making Listening Fun

When we want to learn a new language, we acquire it best if we have had a lot of fun during the learning process and also when we are able to use what we have learned right away. It is the same with your child learning to listen and use spoken language. You can make listening fun by having something unexpected or silly happen when the child listens, e.g., hide and seek games, peekaboo with very young children, and any listening activity that can involve movement and falling down, will make the lesson very exciting. Another way is to simply have a lot of your materials hidden. The child listens and then you take out the object or do the action.

Each child is unique, and you will need to find out what your child really enjoys doing. Some children enjoy play-doh, others painting, while yet others like the computer. Choose something that you won’t need to fight your child to do on a regular basis.

Making Playtime a Part of Listening

Play is a child’s ‘work’. A child spends a lot of time playing. You can make sure this is a good ‘listening’ time by playing with him and i) talk about what you are playing with; ii) pretend play and make the toys ‘talk’ to each other; iii) practice telling the child what the toy is doing and have him do it, e.g., "Let’s make the truck splash in the water!" (then wait for the child to do this). If your child is in the early stages of listening, you can make the car go ‘beep beep’ or the toy mommy can ‘walk walk walk’ or at the everyday phrase level, you can practice ‘Oh no! The stove is HOT!’ using play kitchen and utensils.

One of the best ways to reinforce listening and language you use during playtime is to take pictures of your child playing with his favorite toys, and put them in your experience book. (See AV Techniques - Experience book). As your child gets older and his listening progresses, you will be able to tell and act out little stories using the toys you have.

Remember -- anything your child plays with can be a listening activity. You just need to have the child ‘listen’ to a word or phrase, then do an action in response.

Managing Your Child's Behavior

Many parents say ‘Oh - my child won’t sit down and listen at all!’ If your child is under 5 years old, it is normal for him/her to be up and about. Here are some tips to make things easier!

1. Find a time that is consistent e.g. right after dinner or right after breakfast. This helps your child get into a routine.

2. Sometimes, doing fun listening activities during the meal or snack can help you get your child listening! Kids love to listen and feed toy animals at the table, or serve them in little bowls or plates. You can have sounds and phrases the child listens to and then does the action

3. Keep it short. Start with just 15-20 minutes of a fun game your child likes. The game should consist of listening and then doing something fun e.g. blowing bubbles, making puppets talk or, with an infant/toddler playing peekaboo.

4. Hide your items in three boxes — this will help your child learn when the ‘lesson’ will be finished.

5. End with a surprise activity that you know your child enjoys.

6. Make your activity area colorful, but don’t keep all the favorite toys out. Put them in a closed bin so your child will need to ask you to open the bin to play with them.

7. Always finish your activity, but follow your child’s lead with the materials. For example, you may have wanted the child to listen and identify objects on the table, but your child is interested in the alligator puppet. So you can have him listen and feed the alligator puppet instead of just throwing them in the box!

Remember that learning to listen doesn’t always mean sitting at a table. Listening can be practiced all day long in your home, and you can practice structured tasks when your child is naturally at the table.
Once your child learns that listening is fun, and the activities mean special time with mom and/or dad, you will find it much easier to work skills that need structured practice.

How to Involve Family and Friends

Listening happens all day every day! Your child needs to learn to listen to your voice but also to the voices of family members. I’m sure there are brothers, sisters, cousins grandpa, grandma and many more!

The most important thing is to ensure that i) other family members talk normally to your child ii) you help other family members learn to get your child’s attention by talking, and learn to show the child what they mean if he/she doesn’t understand.

Routine visits or activities with other family members are important to help facilitate your child’s ability to understand and talk to them. If this is not possible due to distance, then using video calls is a good way to practice ‘chatting’.

Your child’s experience book is a good way to help other family members talk to your child. Your child can use the experience book to talk to them as well! An experience book is a picture book of things your child does every day. If you haven’t started one for your child already, then go to AVT Techniques AVT033 to find out how to create and use an experience book.

Here are other ways to involve family members:

-- Story time with grandparents
-- Playdates with cousins or other children in the family
-- Invite them over during your ‘listening activity’ time so they can use the same strategies and techniques as you do when talking to your child

How to Use Any Object for Listening Activities

Your child learns to listen, understand language and use language every minute of the day! So anything you are doing or he is doing can be a listening activity.

You need to know your child’s listening goals e.g. maybe your child needs to listen and understand simple sentences or maybe your child needs to listen to a specific sound and pro due it.

You can use these sounds or sentences with any object or activity and make it into a listening activity. A general rule is to take any object and

-- Use appropriate sentences for things you typically do with that object
-- Have your child listen to the sound/phrase or sentence, and then do the action with the object
-- Give your child a turn to say the sound/word/phrase etc and do the action or tell you to do the action

For example:
Your child takes out a pot in the kitchen

Mom: Look! you found a pot! Its empty
Child : ………
Mom: I see you (look into the pot) while behind the child. (Child is listening to the sentence and seeing himself/herself in the shiny pot)

Turn the pot so the child can see you — WAIT! If your child doesn’t say anything, turn the pot again and say “I see you” when you can see the child again.

After one or two opportunities, you can move on to listening to the direction to bang the pot and it goes boom, boom, boom etc.

Now, look of all the things in your home that your child is interested in, and connect these to the sounds/words/phrases or sentences you want your child to understand and say. In this way, listening doesn’t have to stop with the structured practice at the table, it can be anywhere your child is.

Say It Like It Is

Children need to learn the correct words for objects, even when we think the words are difficult for them. The more words your child acquires, the better the language will develop.

If your child drinks fruit juice —- use the correct word! Call it fruit punch, or lemonade, or apple juice or a drink, rather than just ‘juice’. This way, your child can also learn that ‘juice’ is a category of things he drinks. This is a very important skill for your child to learn!

Another example is ‘bird’. When you see a bird, use it’s correct name such as eagle, or hawk, or parrot or sparrow.

Classification is a crucial thinking skill all children need to acquire in order to learn more complex ideas when they are older.

When you use the correct word for something and point out that it is a kind of bird, or a kind of drink, your child will learn these language concepts very easily.

How to Learn with Your Child

When you want to help your child learn, you often feel as if you need to know everything! Nothing could be far from the truth. When you and your child problem solve and learn something together, your child learns to listen and understand more complex language than if you just ‘told’ him something.

Examples of this kind of learning are putting a model car together, following a new recipe, or figuring out how to change a light bulb, or learning how to play a new game. Such activities also help your child learn that it is ok to make mistakes, and that it is ok to try out something new and take risks.

Make sure you talk about what you are doing, ask your child what he/she thinks you should do, and then put the whole experience in his experience book to share with others.

Take Time to be Quiet

With all the talking and interaction you are expecting from your child, it is very important to take time to let your child lead the way, without you saying anything at all.
The ‘golden silence’ of you not saying anything for a while gives your child the chance to think, express his/her ideas and initiate a conversation with you.

Times to be ‘quiet’ are during activities where you need to stop and listen to what your child is trying to say. When we keep talking in our anxiety to provide the child with language, we often forget to ‘listen’ to the child — especially when he/she is not intelligible.

Another ‘quiet’ time can be together both of you looking at your own story books. You would only respond if your child said something or initiated a conversation.
Do not worry if your child doesn’t initiate anything in the beginning. It is important that you give him/her that time and space.

What to Do If Your Child is Stuck

One of the most difficult things is when your child seems to not make progress, and you don’t know what to do. The important thing is to identify where your child is stuck.

1. Is your child not verbalizing even after you give lots of modeling, opportunity and reinforcement?

2. Is your child not understanding even after lots of repetitions of specific language?

3. Is your child not learning new skills but has made good progress so far?

Once you have tried to identify where your child is stuck here are some general things you need to do:

a. Go to the audiologist and make sure that your child’s hearing loss is not getting worse, that the hearing aids are functioning properly and that they are adjusted appropriately so that all speech sounds are audible to the extent possible

b. If your child has a cochlear implant, go to the audiologist and make sure it is functioning and adjusted appropriately so all speech sounds are audible

c. If the above two reasons have been ruled out, observe your child with other children and see if he/she demonstrates skills you are not seeing in the home

d. Take a break for a a few days and do really fun activities with your child outside your home

e. Look for an educator or professional, even if they are far away, who can evaluate your child to see if there are any other learning difficulties, or if his lack of progress is merely a part of the listening process.

f. Take a hard look at your interactions with your child and see if you are giving plenty of opportunities to listen,learn and communicate. Sometimes, we tend to do everything for the child, which prevents us from recognizing that the child actually understands and can use more language than we thought.

Independence is the Key

Do not do things for your child all the time!!! Right from infancy, encourage independence by helping, rather than doing. So if your baby cannot hold the bottle, help by putting your baby’s hands around the bottle, and you help by providing just enough support to keep the bottle in baby’s mouth. If your toddler can’t put on his socks, help by putting them over his toes, then have him/her pull them up on his own.

This independence carries over into listening and talking. So if your child wants a drink, WAIT till he verbally indicates it, then let him try and pour it himself. Chance are he can’t, so again, WAIT till he asks for help and just support the container as much as needed while he pours the drink.

Using these strategies will help your child become independent and a spontaneous communicator.

The contents of this web page are available in Danish