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Language difficulties

February 2011

My child has language difficulties. I would like to know how to help them on a daily basis without losing the notion of fun.

Communicating with your child

Language and communication play important roles in one’s daily life. There are a number of strategies that can be used to improve conversation and to promote clear communication. The following are some strategies that may be helpful to you:

When you speak to your child :

  • Make sure you get your child’s attention by calling out their name or by gently touching them. Lower yourself to their height. Bend down, if you need to.
  • Adjust the length of your sentences. In other words, do not make sentences longer than what your child is able to understand.
  • Give one instruction at a time.
  • Use common words.
  • Resort to hand gestures or demonstrations, if needed.
  • Speak more slowly.

When your child speaks to you :

  • Do not pretend to understand them when you do not. Instead, rephrase what you understood and ask questions to help your child make what they are saying clearer.
  • Encourage your child to use hand gestures or to point to objects in order to be better understood.
  • Give your child access to pictures that they may need to use to clarify what they are saying. Put these pictures in places where your child is likely to find them. For example, in the kitchen, you can have pictures of different food items taken out of grocery store flyers. You can also put together a small album containing pictures of their toys, family members, favourite places, etc. Your child can use these pictures as visual aids to show you what they want.
  • Remember that communication should be fun, so do not insist upon your child to repeat difficult words or long sentences until they get them right. Gently persuade them to try, but do not pressure them. If it is too difficult for them, just carry on with the conversation.
  • Use creative ways to facilitate communication between your child and the different caregivers of their daily environments. For example, give the child care worker at the daycare a log book in which you record what your child does at home or on weekends. This way, when there are group discussions, the child care worker will know how to invite your child to talk about what they did. And you can use the log book in the same way to help your child recount what they did at the daycare.

The following are some books or sites to consult


We would like to thank Josée Laganière, psychologist, and Geneviève Lauzier, speech therapist, at the Communication Disorders Program, for having collaborated in the production of this capsule.

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Updated on 3/20/2015
Created on 1/19/2015
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The CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation’s Mélio Fund – formerly the Fondation Mélio – is an essential pillar of support for the centre of excellence in musculoskeletal disorders and in rehabilitation medicine. It is dedicated to providing ongoing and indispensable support for the 5,000 children with locomotor or speech impairments being cared for at the Marie Enfant Rehabilitation Centre (CRME).


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