Category: Parenting Advice

Toddler with Mother

  • Read! Choose colourful books with large simple photos or drawings. Talk about the pictures rather than reading the text.
  • Wait! Don’t anticipate our child’s needs. Delay your response to your child’s pointing, gestures or babbling when he wants things. Pretend you don’t understand what he wants. Allow enough time for him to process information and find the words that he needs to say.
  • Self Talk. Talk out-loud about what you are seeing, hearing, doing and feeling when your child is in earshot, this will help increase receptive language.
  • Parallel Talk. Talk out-loud about what is happening to your child. Describe what he is doing, seeing, hearing and feeling when he is in earshot.
  • Praise your child. Respond to your child’s speech attempts with non-verbal and verbal praise. This will encourage his to try and communicate more.
  • Expansion Modelling. Try and add one to two words to what our child says when responding back to him. For Example: Child says “daddy” and you say “daddy home.”
  • Sing to your child. Children love music! Songs promote vocal play, imitation, attention, listening and speech. For example: “The Itisy Bitsy Spider,” “Twinkle, Twinkle little star” or “The Wheels on The Bus.”
  • Use Sign Language. The use of sign language can help bridge the gap between language and speech. Sign language has been found to encourage language development not hinder it. It improves IQ by 13 points!
  • Ask open-ended questions. You want to encourage your child to use his words and to avoid answering yes/no questions. For example ask; “What do you want?” as opposed to “Do you want the ball?”
  • Don’t pressure your child. Communication should be fun and interactive. Don’t ask your child more than 3 times to answer a question. Children tune out when they feel pressured.

Tips for helping your child with speech clarity

Maybe YOU can understand your child but no one else can. Speaking clearly takes a lot of brain power, and a lot of coordination. Think about it, every time you want to say something, your brain has to think of the words, think of how to put the words together, then your brain has to tell your lips and tongue where to go and how to move for EVERY SOUND! It is complex and as adults we take it for granted. When young children are learning to talk, speech clarity often takes a back seat. When children’s sounds are developing, omissions, substitutions or inconsistent productions are common.

Before 3 years of age, the following sound errors or patterns are very common.

Deleting final consonants (e.g., “ha” for “hat”)
Deleting the unstressed syllable (e.g. “nana” for “banana”)
Consonant Assimilation (e.g., “tat” for “cat”)
Repeating sounds or syllables (e.g. “baba” for “bottle”)
At 18 months of age you should be able to understand your child 25% of the time, at 2 years of age, 50-75% of the time, and at 3 years of age you should be able to understand your child 75-100% of the time.

Early 8 Sounds

Emerging development between ages 1-3 with consistent production ~3
/m/ as in “milk”
/b/ as in “baby”
/y/ as in “you”
/n/ as in “no”
/w/ as in “we”
/d/ as in “dada”
/p/ as in “pat”
/h/ at in “hi”

Middle 8 Sounds

Emerging Development Between ages 3-6 1⁄2 with Consistent production ~age51⁄2
/t/ as in “toe”
/ng/ as in “hopping”
/k/ as in “cup”
/g/ as in “go”
/f/ as in “fan”
/v/ as in “van”
/ch/ as in “chop”
/j/ as in “jump”
/s/ as in “see”

Late 8 Sounds

Emerging Development between ages 5 -7 1⁄2 with Consistent production ~age71⁄2
/sh/ as in “shoe”
/th/ as in “think”
/th/ as in “that”
/r/ as in “red”
/z/ as in “zipper”
/l/ as in “lap”
“zh” as in “measure”

Below are some ideas on how you can help a child who has unclear speech. It will give you some general ideas before seeing a Speech Therapist.

  • Get down to your child’s level, so your child can see your mouth. Visual models can reinforce how to properly say certain sounds.
  • Speak in a slow but natural way so your child is encouraged to speak at the same rate. Speaking quickly requires more refined coordination.
  • Instead of asking your child to repeat the word, model the word back emphasizing the sound in error correctly (e.g., Your child says, “I want the big tar”, you can say, “You want the big Car?”.
  • If you know your child can say the sound, you can give him/her choices (e.g. Do you want the “tar” or the “car”?) If they aren’t able to say the sound, offering choices would not be very helpful.
  • If you have understood part of his sentence/conversation, repeat it back to him/her so he/she knows you have understood him. Building confidence is important so he/she keeps trying.
  • Don’t’ pretend to understand but rather ask your child to “show you” what he/she wants.
  • Use contextual and environmental cues as well as facial expressions and intonation to help you to figure out your child’s message.
  • Promote good hearing. Good hearing is essential for the development of normal articulation. If you are concerned with your child’s articulation skills, it is always a good idea to have his/her hearing assessed.


This blog post is written by
Jasmine Mallik
Speech Language Pathologist