Is it normal for my child to seem like he or she doesn’t want to talk? How can I help him?
Yes, not wanting to talk may very well be normal for your child. All children progress at their own pace and on their own schedule. Some children are interested in being verbal. They are truly motivated by talking and imitating adult speech. Some children are not really talking, but enjoy interacting. Many children want to communicate, but they don’t want to talk. They want to let you know their wants and needs by gesturing, pointing, grunting, screaming or having a meltdown! Other children are more interested in climbing, manipulating objects with their hands and trying to get things for themselves. They don’t seem to have a lot of need for adults.
What is important is to develop the interaction between you and your child so that he or she WANTS to communicate with you. We do this through play and having fun.
You can do this in the following ways:
- Start with play. Watch your child. See in what activities he or she is interested. See if she will let you join her play.
- If your kiddo likes playing on his own, respect that but see if he will let you play near him or even with him even for short periods of time.
- Try not to talk any more than she is talking. Do exactly what she does. If she is driving a toy car, get another car and drive it near her. If she is making a sound, imitate that sound. If she is not making any sounds, but just producing gestures, just imitate the same gesture your child is performing.
- Don’t even focus on speech. Focus on play and having your child begin to enjoy interaction with you.
- If your kiddo makes a sound (any sound), imitate it. This will make your child realize that what he says is important and make him more likely to produce that sound again. Try to work on developing a back and forth exchange with that sound or word. Go for as many times saying the word back and forth as possible.
- The important thing is having your child practice making a sound or word lots of times. This will give him the practice time he needs so he is more likely to use that word on his own.
- Try to work in as much movement with sounds as possible. Movement really brings about sound production and speech (for example, say “hop” while hopping, “wee” while driving a car, etc.).
- Don’t focus on having your child repeat what you say. Try to avoid asking her to “say this” or “say that”. It puts your child on the spot and tends to make her want to avoid speaking.
Remember, have fun with your child. Children are only young once. If you continue to have concerns with your child’s speech and language development, please contact Early Intervention for an evaluation.
About the Author - Kathy Marflak, M.S.P CCC/SLP
- PA Licensed Speech-Language Pathologist
- Over 26 years experience with 15+ years in Early Intervention
- Bachelor of Communication Science from University of Pittsburgh
- Master of Speech Pathology from University of South Carolina
- Certificate of Clinical Competence from American Speech- Language- Hearing Association
accessAbilities First Steps Early Intervention provides a variety of home-based services for children ages birth to age 3. These services are designed to foster learning and growth during the most important developmental stages as well as provide support for the family as a whole.
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