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Child struggling with speech? When to intervene and how to help as a parent

Here is when to intervene when a child is struggling with speech.

Children have a natural inclination to explore the world and learn new things, and speech is no exception. It’s normal for kids to stumble and struggle with certain sounds as they learn to talk. In most cases, these cute mispronunciations add to their charm and are seen as an endearing part of their development. However, sometimes, as children get older, these speech struggles can dent their confidence.

Speech therapist Ashley Christensen shares how you can help children master those tricky sounds while ensuring that the process is fun and empowering.

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How to Help a Child That is Struggling With Speech

As parents, it’s natural to cherish the cute speech quirks of our children. However, there comes a point where we may wonder when, or if, we should intervene. Ashley suggests that around the ages of three to four, parents should start considering help if their child struggles to be understood by others and shows signs of frustration and overwhelm. Early intervention is key to ensuring a child’s speech development proceeds smoothly.

Understanding the Impact on Kids

When children have difficulty expressing themselves, it can be disheartening. They may feel misunderstood, and this can lead to frustration and even a loss of self-esteem. Ashley recommends that parents take the time to get down to their child’s eye level, acknowledge their efforts, and remind them that what they have to say is important, regardless of how it sounds. Boosting their confidence is fundamental to their speech development.

Building Confidence through Celebration

One of the most significant aspects of speech development is celebrating small successes. When children feel that they are making progress and that their efforts are being recognized, they are more motivated to continue trying. These small victories create the building blocks for confidence. Encouragement, patience, and positivity are the tools to use in this journey.

Fun and Interactive Learning

Ashley emphasizes that learning should be fun and interactive. Parents don’t have to resort to a formal, rigid setting. They can incorporate speech practice into everyday activities. Use the cereal box at breakfast to remind your child about their target sound. Creating awareness for a minute a day can make a significant difference. Make it a joyful exploration rather than a chore.

Steps to Mastery

The process of speech development should occur in steps, ensuring that children have a solid foundation before moving on to more challenging sounds. Parents should be mindful not to overwhelm their child by introducing sounds that are too difficult too soon. Using mirrors and props like straws can help children visualize and internalize the proper speech mechanics.

Encouraging Generalization of Skills

One of the most significant challenges is helping children generalize their newly acquired speech skills to real-life situations. Ashley recommends using simple, yet effective tools like Post-it notes with affirmations to boost children’s confidence and remind them of their progress.

It’s important not to just address speech difficulties, but also to foster confidence and a positive attitude in children. Speech development is a journey, and it’s essential to celebrate the milestones along the way. With the right approach, parents can ensure that their children’s speech development is a fun and empowering experience.

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