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  • 5 Ways You Can Help Your Child's Language Development, According To A Dev Ped

    You can't rush your child's natural development, but you can help boost their language skills.
    by Kaydee Dela Buena .
5 Ways You Can Help Your Child's Language Development, According To A Dev Ped
  • A typical one-year-old can communicate in one to three word sentences, like ma-ma, da-da, or ba-ba (referring to bottle). By age 4 or 5, their vocabulary should expand and they can hold a conversation with other kids and even adults. If your kid has not met those milestones, they may have speech delayDevelopmental milestones help gauge your child’s progress, but they’re just general guidelines. As with other skills, children's language development also grow at their own rate and pace.

    According to Dr. Francis Xavier Dimalanta, MD, FPPS, FPSDBP, one of Asia’s top behavioral and developmental pediatricians, there are two types of language: expressive and receptive. The former is related to the actual talking, while the latter is how you process and understand the message.

    "Mas gusto ko ang batang nakakaintindi, [at] hindi nagsasalita, kaysa sa salita ng salita pero hindi nakakaintindi." — Dr. Dimalanta.

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    At the Smart Parenting Masterclass Toddler Expertips titled "LEARN: How To Nurture Your Child’s Thinking Skills," which was co-presented with NIDO, Dr. Dimalanta was asked which is the better indicator of intelligence between the two. For him, it is receptive language. "Mas gusto ko ang batang nakakaintindi, [at] hindi nagsasalita, kaysa sa salita ng salita pero hindi nakakaintindi,” he says.


    5 ways to help a child's language development

    If your child has a speech delay, it doesn’t always mean that you should be alarmed. You may simply have a late bloomer, who find it harder to process information. It can also be due to biological differences or genetics. Many types of speech delay can be effectively treated. As parents, you also play a vital role in your child’s language development.

    Here’s how you can support their growth and development.

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    Educate yourself 

    The best first step is to gather all information, before you sound off the alarm. It’s dangerous to self-diagnose your child. Learn about developmental milestones by age. For example, a 3-year-old should be able to answer who, what, where, and how questions. The child should be able to sing songs, tell stories, and construct sentences. The child should be able to answer questions properly. You might also want to check if a child displays signs of echolalia or the constant repetition of what you say. 

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    Stimulate your child’s speech and language development 

    There are four cores of stimulating your child’s ability to speak, according to Dr. Dimalanta. First, always get down to the child’s physical level when talking. Avoid letting them think you’re talking down on them, because it makes them stubborn in expressing their thoughts.

    Second, slow down your rhythm of speech. “Enunciate letters. Para mas maintindihan. This will allow time for your child to process your message, even while you’re reading. Talk to them about colors, shapes, etc. every time you turn the pages,” he says.

    Third, always wait for your child to respond. Don’t expect answers from them immediately, but instead count at least 10 seconds before rephrasing your question. They might need time to process and generate a proper response.

    Lastly, take equal communication turns with your child. Pay attention to what they’re saying and encourage them to express their ideas and opinions. Positive communication is a two-way street, after all.

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    Surround them with developmental tools

    Dimalanta stresses the importance of not exposing kids to technology when they’re still below 2 years old. “Dapat walang gadgets ang mga bata hanggang 2 years old. Mas nauuna pa matutunan mag-swipe kaysa mag-sulat. Hindi ninyo pwedeng gamitin ang gadget para pampatulog sa kanila, kahit sabihin ninyo na ginagamit yung medium to help them makapagsalita. We found out na hindi siya nakakatulong."

    He adds, "Mas nagkakaroon ng madaming delays at problem ‘pag binigyan niyo agad ng gadgets. Ang kailangan nila is nilalaro ninyo, kinakausap ninyo.” Moreover, kids as young as 4 to 6 months old are more interested in toys, so better to choose ones that stimulate their senses

    Try different communication techniques

    Dimalanta lists four techniques you can use on your child. First is questioning. By the time they reach 3 to 4 years old, they should be able to answer who, what, where, when, and why questions. Try to ask follow up questions to make them think and generate a response.


    Second is modelling. “Paano mo mapapabasa ng libro ang bata kung ikaw hindi nagbabasa? ‘Wag mag gadgets kung ikaw puro gadgets,” underlines Dimalanta. Incorporate books and toys in your bonding time with kids. Also, if they have trouble pronouncing some words, do not laugh at them, but instead correct them. As parents, you are your child’s biggest source of learning. Praise them when they’re good instead of focusing on the things they did wrong.

    Third, expansion. If they show interest in a particular story, toy, color, etc, ask them about it.

    Lastly, self-talk. Dimalanta says, “When you tell your child to not do anything, the opposite happens. So as early as now, you can teach and talk to them about the consequences of their actions.”

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    Ask for professional assistance

    Kung feeling niyo may delay, sabihin agad sa doctor. It’s better to overthink than to be late,” advises Dimalanta. After careful assessment and observation of your child’s development, set up an appointment with a doctor to discuss concerns. Also, don’t be afraid to share any family history of speech and language disorders, if known. Some disorders have a strong genetic component, so this is important information to share to your doctors.


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