top of page

11 Tips to help your child understand you and do what you ask

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

11 Tips to help your child understand you and do what you ask


Comprehension, also known as receptive language, is our ability to understand the language we hear or read. In order to interpret meaning from the language around us, we need to understand words, linguistic concepts, grammatical rules, the nuance of facial expressions, body language and have a general knowledge that puts the language we hear into context.

Our comprehension skills enable us to make sense of the world and follow instructions.

Comprehension involves all the skills that allow us to understand language, interpret the meaning of spoken language and understand what we see, hear and read. Strong auditory comprehension skills are vital for academic and social success.

When should I be concerned about my child’s comprehension skills?

There is not a single set of symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of comprehension or receptive language delay. A language assessment can determine your child’s specific comprehension strengths and weaknesses. However, some daily indicators of challenges with comprehension may include:

  • Appearing not to listen when spoken to

  • A lack of interest in books when they are read to them

  • Difficulty understanding and learning new words

  • Difficulty understanding the meaning of words and sentences

  • Challenges remembering all the words in a sentence to make sense of what has been said

  • Not understanding longer, more complicated sentences

  • Inability to follow verbal instructions; especially if the instruction is long or complicated

How to help your child understand you

Here are 11 strategies to support your child’s comprehension.

  1. Make sure you have your child’s attention before giving him some information or an instruction

  2. Simplify your language – keep it simple and consider the order of your words. For example, rather than “Before you eat your snack, put your lunchbox on the sink and then you can go and play” try “Put your lunchbox on the sink. Then eat your snack. Afterwards, you can go and play”

  3. Give instructions and information in small chunks. Give your child one step at a time.

  4. Use gestures and facial expressions to help your child understand what you need her to know. The animated expression will emphasise important information and help her remember the key points

  5. Explain the meaning of new words. A broader vocabulary will help your child’s comprehension of spoken and written language.

  6. Check if your child has understood what is expected of him. Ask him to repeat back the information or instructions you have given him.

  7. Use lots of describing words when you are speaking to model concepts e.g. big, little, heavy, quickly, beautiful, happy

  8. Ask questions to help your child describe objects – Talk about the colour, size, shape, of the object, what it does, where you find it, how it feels etc

  9. Read lots of books together

  10. When your child asks a question praise her “That was a great question, you are thinking really hard”

  11. When your child tells you about something she has seen or done, ask her more about it, “What did they do next? What did they use? Tell me more about….”

If your child finds it hard to comprehend language or you are struggling to help them follow instructions then we’re here to help. At Newcastle Speech Pathology we love to see parents equipped with the knowledge and skills to help their child become a confident communicator.

Written by Alison Speech Pathologist Newcastle Speech Pathology


bottom of page