You know the scenario: little Jackson runs up to you and excitedly starts telling you about…something. You can’t really make out what it is he wants to tell you and he gets increasingly frustrated as you ask him once, twice, three times, “What, Jackson? Can you say it again? Slow down.” Finally, he hunches over and storms off, giving up, with a crestfallen look on his face.
It’s heart-breaking to watch a child experience so much frustration in just trying to get his words out and it puts a strain on the whole family. You start to wonder if you should find him speech therapy in Austin or if he just needs some extra time to develop. To top it all off, you’re not sure exactly what the issue is or how to help him. If this sounds like you or someone you know, keep reading!
Below I’ve listed 2 (out of 10) top reasons kids become frustrated with talking and some suggestions on general techniques you can use to help them. It’s important to understand that this is general advice for supporting your child in overcoming some common issues with talking. If your child continues to struggle or only partially improves after you implement this advice, don’t lose hope! It just means that most likely your child needs to work with a speech therapist, an expert who is highly trained in techniques for improving communication skills.
#1 Mispronouncing speech sounds:
Difficulties pronouncing speech sounds is quite typical for young children. It’s when your child sounds different than other children her age that it’s worth taking a closer look. Here are some simple stats to help guide you:
You should understand:
- 50% or more of what your child says by age 2.
- 75% or more by age 3,
- 100% by age 4, even if not all the sounds are perfect.
Additionally, if your child’s teacher is expressing concern about her speech sounds, that’s a strong indication something is wrong. Teachers simply work with so many children that they have a good radar when it comes to detecting something that is out of the ordinary. The first things you should do to help your child are:
- Consult your child’s pediatrician.
- Ask about getting your child a hearing screening to make sure her hearing is normal, since abnormal hearing can affect pronunciation.
- Consult a speech therapist if your child’s hearing is normal and she’s not catching up with peers.
Check out my blog, “The Number One Reason Your Child is Hard to Understand and How You Can Help” for more information and helpful tips on what to do when your child is mispronouncing sounds.
#2 Not using words or complete sentences:
As with all other skills, children learn to use words gradually. No one expects a toddler to give a TED talk, but there is still confusion as to exactly what kids should be able to do when. Here are a few pointers:
- Around age 1: says his first word.
- Around age 2: speaks in 2 word combinations.
- Also around age 2: communicates more with words than gestures.
- Around age 3: speaks in 3-4 word combinations.
- Around age 4: talks about things that happened during his day, using about 4 sentences at a time.
- Around age 5: tells short stories and has short conversations.
For more information, click here to consult a checklist of speech and language milestones from birth-age 5 by the National Institutes of Health.
If you’re noticing that your child is a bit behind in these areas, here aresome recommendations for things to try:
- Make time every day for your child to interact with you and his siblings and friends without devices: play with toys or games, share time looking at picture books together, go outside and explore, or do a cooking or craft project.
- Repeat what your child says, and expand on it. If he says, “Blue car”, repeat back, “The blue car goes fast!” and pause to give him a chance to copy your sentence. However, do not pressure your child to repeat your longer sentence, as this will usually cause kids to shut down.
If you find your child is continuing to fall behind peers with using words and sentences, consult your pediatrician and a speech therapist for recommendations specific to your child.
Wait and see or be proactive?
If your child is falling behind peers with talking, this can lead to serious disadvantages during school years, even if your child is only a toddler right now. Although “wait and see” was the traditional advice given by family doctors, we now know from research that the earlier we address issues with spoken communication, the better for kids’ long-term success in school. This is because reading and writing are based on spoken communication: if you can’t say it, you won’t be able to read it, and definitely not write it.
The good news is we offer a free phone consultation with a certified speech therapist to help parents of Central Texas children get peace of mind about whether they are dealing with a temporary issue that’s part of normal development for all children or whether your child may need a little extra boost to achieve clear speaking skills.
That’s 2 out of 10 frustrations…
There are many reasons that kids could be frustrated about talking and interacting. Check out our FREE eReport, “10 Frustrations Kids Have with Communication and How to Help Your Child Overcome Them” to learn about all 10 of the most common reasons.
About the author:
In over a decade as a speech language pathologist in schools, clinics, and rehabilitation facilities, Simone Gregoire, MS, CCC-SLP has helped hundreds of kids improve their speech and trained their parents, caregivers, and teachers to support those improved skills.
Photo #2: “Mother and son in tree grove” by Jose Hernandez Some rights reserved.