Communicating helps people to express their ideas and feelings, and it, at the same time, helps us to understand emotion and thoughts of the others. As a result, we will develop different emotions toward other people, and positive or negative relationships will be created.

Communication is a key area of a child’s development. We begin to communicate with the world from the moment we are born. Babies learn to communicate their needs and ‘take turns’ in communicating with their parents or carers. This develops a strong bond and critical attachments. We learn to develop our communication skills through body language such as eye contact and crying or leading an adult to what we want and later develop the skills to verbally communicate our wants and needs.  We learn to listen; a vital ingredient of communication. These skills equip us with the ability to communicate and listen which enables us to engage with the world in bigger and clearer ways, leading to the development of our identity, relationships with others and the capacity to learn.

As a parent we talk and listen to our children, we help them to learn skills and equip our children with the skills to communicate with others and develop positive relationships.

Children with speech, language and communication needs often struggle to express themselves as they would like to, which can lead to frustration and behaviours such as withdrawal and/or challenging.

Communication barriers can lead to difficulties making and keeping friends, or children may rely on others around them to communicate for them.

Often self-esteem, can be affected and can lead to children developing a negative view of themselves, this can lead to anxiety. Using positive communication to help children understand more about themselves, their peers and the world around them can enable their self-esteem to develop. Young people recognise that developing good communication skills helps us to feel confident.

What does it mean?
  • Interactions.

  • Eye gaze

  • Attention & Listening

  • Non-verbal

  • Verbal

  • Initiation

  • Speech

  • Language

  • Facial Expressions

  • Engaging

  • Showing an interest

  • Wants and needs

  • Responding

  • Play

  • Adults

  • Peers

  • 2-way

  • Turn-taking

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Building Relationships that Build Communication
  • Play- spending time playing with a child , is the key to developing a relationship with them.

  • Creates lots of opportunities to develop speech. Language and communication skills

  • Develops social and emotional well-being

  • Provides opportunity and motivation for communication

  • Positive, enjoyable interactions

From 3 years onwards, children should demonstrate most of the following behaviours with peers:
  • Getting a peer’s attention

  • Being the leader in an activity

  • Imitating a peer

  • Expressing affection towards a peer

  • Expressing hostility toward a peer

  • Following or refusing to follow a peer’s request

  • Negotiating an acceptable solution

  • Playing in a group for a relatively long time.

The four conversation styles, Hanen.

  • The Sociable Child

-Constantly initiates and responds to others

-Even in infancy, sociable children initiate interactions to draw attention to themselves.

  • The Reluctant Child 

-Seldom initiates, often on outside of group. He may take time to ‘warm up’ and respond to you. Given time he will interact with you.

-Peer interactions may be more difficult for him

-If language-delayed, this child’s reluctance to initiate may be related to his language difficulty.

  • The Child on his Own Agenda

-Spends a lot of time playing alone, appear to be uninterested in interaction.

-He may initiate when he needs something, but he frequently rejects your efforts to engage him.

-Typically developing children may go through this independent phase. However, they still enjoy interacting with others in some social situations

  • The Passive Child

-Seldom responds or initiates, seems to have little interest in objects or people around him.

-It is hard to elicit a smile from him or to engage him in any sort of playful interaction.

-This may reflect a developmental delay.

We notice whether a child spontaneously approaches others and initiates interactions and how well they respond.

What is supporting communication?


People have communication needs if they need support with understanding, expressing themselves or interacting with others. To meet their needs you have to be flexible in how you communicate and the methods that you use.


How do you support a child's communication development?


Here are some ideas to help your baby or child develop communications skills:

  1. Respond to your baby's gestures, looks and sounds.

  2. Talk with and listen to your child.

  3. Help children build on their language skills.

  4. Teach your child about non-verbal communication.

  5. Respect and recognize your child's feelings.

  6. Help your child to develop a ‘feelings’ vocabulary

  7. Read together

  8. Narrate what you do as you carry out your daily routines

  9. Encourage pretend play

  10. Make you instructions clear and simple and appropriate for your child’s age and ability.

  11. Be a good role-model

Here are some strategies you can use with children, depending upon their language level. How you do these things may be different during infancy compared to when children are starting to use words, but the idea will remain the same.

  • Imitate: If your child is babbling, making another sound in play, or even banging a spoon, you can do that too. Imitating children’s sounds, words, and actions shows them that they are being heard and that you approve of what they’re doing or saying. It also promotes turn taking and, most of all, encourages them to imitate you and your more complex language utterances.

  • Interpret: If your child is pointing to the apple juice that he/she wants to drink, he/she is communicating with you. Take this to the next level by interpreting what they are trying to say. Respond with, “Apple juice! You want apple juice!”

  • Expanding and recasting: When your child says “red truck,” you can expand on that by saying, “Yes, a big red truck.” If your son/daughter says, “The dragon jumping on the bed,” you can recast their grammar by saying, “The dragon is jumping on the bed. Use stress and intonation to highlight the words you want your child to focus on.

  • Commenting and describing: Instead of telling kids what to do during playtime, give a running commentary and give a play-by-play of what they are doing. Say, “You’re driving the red car around in circles,” or, “You’re putting the cow into the barn. The cow is going to sleep.” This models good vocabulary and grammar and helps children organize their thoughts. Maybe they were not actually putting the cow to sleep — maybe they were just putting it inside the barn—but by suggesting that you have given them a new concept to consider.

  • Eliminate negative talk: Try not to say things like, “That’s not where the cow goes,” or, when they’re colouring, “The sky isn’t pink.” Remember we want to encourage all attempts to communicate and validate those attempts so that children do more of it. We all respond better to more positive phrasing.

  • Contingent responses: Respond immediately to all attempts to communicate, including words and gestures. This is a big one. It shows your child how important communication is and gives you the opportunity to model more sophisticated language skills.

  • Balance turn taking: Give children the space to exercise their communication skills by making sure they get a turn. Turns do not need to just be talking. A turn could be your child handing you a toy or making eye contact. Maybe your daughter will look at you because she needs help opening a box. You can say, “You need help opening the box!” Then you can wait for her to hand you the box — that is her taking another turn. Turn taking can be hard for parents because we are used to taking charge of situations, but it is important to give kids the opportunity to use the skills they are developing.

  • Label things: Even when children are not ready to use words yet, you can prepare them by labelling things in their environment. For example, during a bubble bath, keep referring to the bubbles; during snack time you can label the apple juice.

  • Limit questions: If you know that your son knows which sound a pig makes, do not keep asking him. Questioning him whilst playing instead of just playing with him can be stressful, instead you could say, “I wonder where the pig is going?” It still invites him to respond, but it does not put him on the spot.

  • Labelled praise: Instead of just saying “well done,” put a label on that praise. If your child is not yet using words, (or even if they are) you could say, “Well done putting all the blocks away,” because it reinforces their good behaviour even more. For a child who is using some words to communicate, you could say, “Great telling me that you want apple juice,” or “Great saying more juice please.” This will help create positive feelings around communication and motivate them to continue to try and add new words.