Interacting with your child

  • The ability to interact effectively with others is crucial for all communication. It is important that the interaction between you and your child, as well as between your child and other adults and children, is as good as it can be.
  • We are interacting with others all the time. These simple tips will help you to show you value your child’s communication. They should revolutionise your communication with others too!
  • Top tips for interacting with your child

    1. Follow your child’s lead by…

    a) Observing your child and seeing what they like to play with.
    b) Waiting and watching as they play, getting down on the floor and joining them in the play. If your child prefers to play on their own then play alongside, sharing the toys. Copy your child’s play.
    If the play becomes repetitive, then copy and model a slightly different way of playing. This will help to develop the play further.  

    2. While following your child’s lead…

    a) STOP! Encourage your child and wait for them to lead.

    b) LISTEN! Listen to what your child says and observe what they are doing. Treat any sounds as meaningful communication and respond to these. Value all the communication your child gives you.

    c) RESPOND! Respond by using one of these strategies:

    • Explaining/commenting Describe what your child is doing or looking at. Use single words or short, simple sentences that are 2 or 3 words longer than your child typically might say.
    • Repeating Repeat back what your child says, using an appropriately constructed sentence.
    • Expanding Repeat what your child says but add 1 or 2 new words to develop talking.
    3. Be careful about the number of questions you ask. Don’t keep asking, ‘What is this?’. If your child doesn’t know, they can’t tell you. It’s much better to comment and state what they are doing or looking at. That way, they will learn those new words and use them in the future. 

    4. Don’t be afraid of silence. Give your child 10 seconds to process information that you have said. Allow this processing time, because children have a lot to listen to and understand before they can give you an answer. If you give them time, you will be surprised by what they can say and do.

    Web links

    Check out these pages to find lots more information and great ideas.

  • Let’s Play: supporting early interaction and communication
  • Building good parent–child relationships
  • Communicating well with children
  • The Hanen Centre, ‘Why interaction matters: Part 1’
  • The Hanen Centre, ‘Why interaction matters: Part 2’
  • The Fundamental Building Blocks of Speech and Language

    Father and son playing together

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    Last modified: Friday, 15 May 2020, 2:22 PM