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  • Lillian Hallett, MS, CF-SLP

Reducing Communicative Pressures in the Home

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

Whether your child is experiencing stuttering, a language delay or is simply shy, reducing communicative pressure in the home is an effective way to encourage communication and confidence, during play and throughout the day.

What is communicative pressure?

Communicative pressure can be described as a feeling of hesitance, nervousness or even resistance to communicate that children may experience when adults use too many questions. Questions, especially testing questions (“What’s that? What color is it? Where are we going?”), naturally increase the pressure that children may feel during communicative interactions, especially if they don’t know the answer.

Here are 5 ways to reduce communicative pressure in the home:

1. Reduce the number of questions you ask - and replace them with comments! Making more comments than questions is one of the best ways to reduce communicative pressure. There is almost always a way to reframe your questions into comments. Here are some examples of ways to reframe your questions into comments:

  1. “I see a car!” instead of “What’s that?”

  2. “Yellow ball!” instead of “What color is the ball?”

  3. “Go go go!” instead of “Where are you going?”

  4. “You are building!” instead of “Are you building?”

  5. “Mmm, yummy!” instead of “Is it yummy?”

2. Increase wait time. As you begin to reduce the number of questions you ask and make more comments, you also want to ensure you are actively providing enough time/space in the conversation for your child to respond. Once you make a comment, count to 5, 10 or even 15 seconds before you make the next one. At first, it may seem strange to experience so much ‘quiet time’ during play - that’s okay!

3. Follow your child’s lead. Children often love the autonomy they feel when they are given the opportunity to choose toys, games, and the direction of play. During play, (especially pretend play), try not to tell them WHAT to do - i.e. “Put the animals in the barn!” too often. Allowing children to make decisions about what is happening and how the toys are being used can increase confidence, self-esteem and, in turn, how comfortable they feel initiating communication.

4. Model slightly slow, relaxed speech during play. This tip is especially helpful for children who experience stuttering. Using a slightly slowed/relaxed rate of speech can communicate to your child that you are not in any rush, you are enjoying playing with them and that you, yourself, are relaxed and comfortable. Using hurried or intense speech with your child may cause a sense of urgency that will not foster low-pressure, comfortable communication.

5. Consciously take turns communicating with your child and avoid interrupting them. This tip goes hand-in-hand with increasing wait time and following your child’s lead. It is important to take turns talking with your child when playing, and throughout the day, so they can begin to understand that when there is a pause in talking, it can be their turn! This will allow for ample opportunities to initiate communication, and make children feel as though their conversational turn (aka their thoughts, feelings and ideas) are equally as important as yours.

Let us know if you have any questions or if you found any of these tips particularly helpful with your child. We are here for you!



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