Ten practices to develop language and communication in children who are late talkers.

by John Peats M.S., CCC-SLP

There are several reasons why children may not be communicating as a parent might expect. While some kids just have a timetable of their own, others truly are having a difficult time figuring out why there’s a need to engage others, how to go about connecting to others and whether there are any benefits to making social connections. Whatever the situation – there are some general things that can be done to help children who are late talkers develop critical language and communication skills. Here are ten things a parent or care giver can do.

1. A parent’s first goal is to be the child’s play partner. Let him or her take the lead during play. The child should select the toys that interest them most and be allowed to interact with the toys in a way that’s most comfortable for them.

2. Engage your child in a fun way. The parent should move in an enthusiastic manner, using good energy with lots of smiles and relaxed movements.

3. Engage in turn-taking behavior. This is a very important skill and is essential for all communication. Use the words “it’s your turn” often when engaging the child.

4. Be  Visual. Use striking, colorful materials and emphasized actions in a fun way.

5. Model! Model! Model ….. behaviors and words or phrase you want your child to learn.

6. Teach words or phrases that are important for your child in expressing basic needs (i.e. “juice”,”want more”, “food”, “no” etc.).

7. Use simple language when talking with your child. Always speak slowly with frequent pauses. Start with 2 word phrases like “want toy?”

8. Go slowly and use target words or phrases often and in naturally occurring situations. For example you would use the phrase: “want juice” during family breakfast, at snack time or after a rigorous play session.

9. Perform all desired words directly in the child’s visual field. A toddler’s field of focus and learning is within the first 2-3 feet of their face.

10. Set aside time to read to your child daily. Reading is visually appealing. It initiates and promotes shared focus – a building block to successful communication and language development.


I've been a speech therapist for 18 years now. I've worked with children and adults in a variety of settings and have found the work very fulfilling. I am married and have 3 children. I am also a musician.

2 comments on “Ten practices to develop language and communication in children who are late talkers.
  1. Thanks for the useful guides john Peats!