Language Development

How Taking the Pressure OFF can Help your Toddler Talk

speech therapy, houston, late talker

May 5, 2019

I’m Brooke
I'm a speech therapist specializing in early language, but more importantly, I'm a mom of a toddler who has been on her own journey with physical and occupational therapy
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Questions and Comments


As a Pediatric Speech Pathologist specializing in Early Intervention, one of the tips I offer to parents of Late-Talkers is to is to replace questions with comments. Comments provide opportunities to build upon your child’s interests! In fact, word learning is enhanced when you follow your child’s lead and attend to their focus (Fararr, 1986). When you comment, you model the words associated with your child’s interests. This helps build their vocabulary and facilitates turn taking, resulting in a longer interaction. The longer the interaction, the more opportunities there are for language learning!


Asking too many questions can end a conversation immediately. Once your toddler responds (or doesn’t), there is nothing for you to expand upon. It can also take the fun out of communication! Think about how you would feel if someone repeatedly asked you questions you already knew the answer to!


Communicative Pressure


Too many questions leads to communicative pressure. This happens when the parent or caregiver demands a response or overwhelms the child with too many questions. It is actually counterproductive to language development!


In a recent study, researchers compared a program that teaches parents of Late Talkers strategies to encourage language development (Target Word ™) to a control group. They found that children of parents who changed their behavior regarding pressure on the child improved more on expressive vocabulary (Kruythoff-Broekman et al, 2019).


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“This study emphasizes the importance of teaching parents of Late Talker’s to reduce the communicative pressure on their child, in particular by cutting down on the number of testing questions they ask during communicative interactions” -Astrid Kruythoff-Broekman et al

Take-Home Message


The take-home message is that children actually learn better when we take the pressure off! Through tweaking our own interaction styles, we can actually support our child’s language development. Next time you find yourself “quizzing” your little one, try a comment instead. Instead of saying “What color is that?” try saying something like, “Your truck is big and red!”

For more ideas on turning comments into questions, check out my article, “Ten Things to say to your Toddler Instead of, “What is That?”or“Why I Don’t Say, “Say” to your Toddler.” Most of all, have fun! Learning to communicate can be a joyful experience for you and your little one!



Astrid Kruythoff-Broekman, Carin Wiefferink, Carolien Rieffe. Parent-implemented early language intervention programme for late talkers: parental communicative behaviour change and child language outcomes at 3 and 4 years of age. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 2019, VOL. 00, NO. 0, 1–14


Brooke Andrews Speech Pathologist in HoustonBrooke Andrews, M.A. CCC-SLP is owner of The Speech Dynamic and specializes in providing speech and language therapy toddlers and preschoolers in Houston, TX. Her clinical expertise include early intervention, language delays, and apraxia of speech in young children.

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