|Content contributed by Speech Pathologist Stephanie Harvey
It’s holiday season! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Bodhi, or Kwanzaa, there is a lot to celebrate in December! For many people, that means getting together with extended family and friends. It’s exciting to see how much children have grown and changed, and catch up on their latest adventures. For children who have trouble talking, though, it may be overwhelming to have to talk with so many people during holiday gatherings.
Holidays can be relaxed and fun if we plan ahead to make talking easier. Pressure to talk can cause stress and make it hard for some children to join in the holiday fun. Therefore, most of these tips aim to reduce pressure.
Tips to help children talk:
- Place yourself at their level, or even a bit lower. It’s usually best to sit facing them, but some children feel more comfortable sitting next to an adult.
- Talk about things that interest them, or what they are doing or looking at in the moment. Share some stories from your life if they seem interested.
- Avoid giving children the message that they have to talk, or insisting that they say something specific.
- Pause often. This gives them a chance to talk without any pressure to do so.
- Make comments. Comments invite children to talk without pressuring them to do so.
- Limit questions. Questions can make some children feel pressured to talk, especially a series of rapid-fire questions. Reduce the stress of questions by giving choices. (What would you like to drink? Water or milk?)
- Accept all of the ways that children communicate – gestures, sounds, words, drawings.
- Avoid criticizing them or the way they talk.
- Invite them to do an activity to help them feel comfortable. They may like playing board games, looking at photos, singing songs, or doing something active with you.
- If children still don’t talk despite your best efforts, try to let them participate in ways that are easier for them.
I hope these tips help you connect with the little ones in your life this holiday season. Happy Holidays!
||Stephanie Harvey, MA, SLP (C) is a bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist at SpeechWorks Inc. SpeechWorks helps people with aphasia to speak and understand so they can connect with life!