3 Ways to Develop the Critical Skills Your Child Must Have Before They’ll Talk

If you have a child who’s not yet talking, those first words are probably something you’re excited about hearing. Keep reading to find out one thing your child needs to be able to do before you’ll hear those precious first words and ways you can help them to learn how to do them.

The critical skill they need is joint attention. Joint attention is when you and your child share focus on something together. It might be a toy, a person or something interesting in your surroundings. It’s important that your child is able to gain and direct your attention to something. They’ll often do this by pointing and looking at the thing of interest. It’s also important for them to be able to respond to you and shift their attention when you want to share something with them. Joint attention is super important as it’s one of the ways we ‘tune in’ to other people and learn from them and our surroundings. It’s a critical skill your child needs to learn to talk. Without it your child’s talking will be delayed. 

So, how do you help your child develop joint attention? Here are 3 things to try:

1. Get down to your child’s level

When you’re standing up, you seem a really long way away from your child and this makes it harder for them to focus on you and what you’re looking at. Getting down to their level helps them to pay attention to your face and the thing you’re showing them. It also makes it easier for them to get your attention and direct it to what they’re interested in.

2. Be animated 

When you’re trying to get your child’s attention or you’re sharing focus together, use lots of facial expressions and an excited tone of voice.This will not only help to capture your child’s attention but it’ll help them stay focused for longer too.

3. Follow their interests

Pay attention to what your child is interested in and join them by looking at it too and making comments about it. There’s no need to try to get them to focus on a new toy if they’re interested and enjoying focusing on another. When you do this your child will be far more likely to return the favour and share in your interests.

If you’re worried about your child’s talking, a paediatric Speech Pathologist is the health professional who can help. Contact your local Speech Pathologist or send us an email at info@talplaygrow.com.au


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