Photo by Saeed Karimi on Unsplash
As parents, we’re always concerned about our children and how they present themselves to the world. We want everyone to know how amazing they are!
But what if they don’t speak clearly?
Whether it’s late talkers, fast talkers or mumbling teens, parents are always looking for advice on how to help their child speak more clearly.
Before considering advice, it’s important to understand why your child might be unclear and hard to understand and when it’s time to seek professional support.
Here are 3 reasons your child might not be speaking clearly
They have trouble making specific speech sounds e.g. calling a ‘car’ a ‘tar’ because they can’t say /k/ yet.
They can make the sounds but are having trouble using them in the right spot e.g. leaving the sounds off the ends of words, saying ‘wo’ instead of ‘what’, or using dropping sounds in blends and calling a ‘snake’ a ‘sake’ or ‘nake’
They are having trouble with language and are unsure of what to say. For example, they may mumble through the small words in sentences because they are not sure what the words should be or what function they have - (mumble) go (mumble) shop?
If you think your child is unclear because of any of these reasons, it’s important to seek specific advice from a speech pathologist as soon as possible, as your child may require specialist, targeted intervention to support their speech and language development.
These are my 5 tips to help your child speak clearly.
1. Try some robot talking.
You can move and talk like a robot, saying one syllable at a time. This will increase your child’s awareness of the structure of words. It is easier to hear and say all the sounds in the word and pay attention to every syllable.
Pick one activity in the day which turns on the robot talking, e.g. driving to school, going through the shopping list, naming pictures in a book.
2. Get in front of the mirror
Try pulling funny faces, making funny sounds, and generally encouraging your child to experiment with their mouth movements and shapes.
Increasing your child’s awareness of sounds, mouth shapes and tongue movements in sound play can help them become comfortable with opening their mouth wider and making more accurate movements for speech sounds.
3. Talk about new words or funny-sounding words in books.
Say the word slowly and clearly as you provide a good sound model for your child. Get them to repeat it. Children’s books are filled with so many fun words that are crying out to be spoken out loud.
Some of our family favourites are ‘snozzcumbers’, ‘glumptious’ and ‘humplehammers’ from Roald Dahl’s BFG.
4. Make up family nonsense words or names.
Practising saying nonsense words clearly is just as effective as practising real words. It’s all about having fun while helping your child to hear, say and feel the movements of sounds in words.
5. Play games like ‘Whisper Down The Line’
Each person takes a turn to pass on a whispered message to the next person in the line. You certainly have to focus on speaking clearly to get the correct message across!
Remember, if you suspect that your child's speech clarity is impacted by any of the reasons mentioned in this blog, seeking advice from a speech pathologist is crucial. Don't wait and see if your child's speech improves. Early assessment and treatment is important for all speech and language delays and will enable the best outcomes.
Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have concerns about your child's speech.
At Newcastle Speech Pathology, we provide effective, personalised therapy because clear communication unlocks opportunities.
Certified Practising Speech Pathologist
Director, Newcastle Speech Pathology