Pausing and Using a Slower Rate-of-Speech When Talking with Children

I’ve mentioned this before, but I feel that it’s an important enough concept that it should have it’s own post!  Children process language at a much slower rate than adults do.  This is true of all children, but it is especially true for children who are struggling with their speech and language development.  The answer?  Talk slower, and increase the number and length of pauses used in your speech!

What do I mean by ‘processing?’

When I talk about processing speed, I am referring to the time it takes for an individual’s brain to process and understand information presented.  Think of your brain as a computer.  Every time your brain receives information, it takes time for it to upload and process that information.  Processing speed varies widely between individuals and tasks, but for most adults, information processing happens very quickly.

Language Processing

Language Processing refers to the amount of time it takes for an individual to process spoken language.  Most adults are able to quickly process spoken language.  Children, however, cannot process language as quickly as adults.  Their brains are still developing, and so are their language skills.

So, What’s My Point?

My point is, if you want your child to understand and better respond to you, talk to them slower, and use lots of pauses to give them time to process!  Adults talk fast, and for good reason.  We’re busy, we have a lot going on, and we understand fast language.  Why slow down?  Well, because your child does not understand you as well as adults do.  Again, this is true for all children, but it’s especially true for children with language difficulties!  Those poor kids don’t have a chance if the adults in their life are talking a mile-a-minute, and they already have a hard time understanding basic sentences!  Let me give you an example.

You are at your Mom’s house, and your toddler just learned how to tell people how old he is.  You say, “Look honey, it’s Grandma, say hi to Grandma!  Can you tell her how old you are?  How old are you?”  Then, Grandma immediately says, “Oh, are you a big boy?  How old are you?”  You both look at your son for about 2 seconds, and when he doesn’t respond, you say, “Well, he’s just being shy, he was saying it earlier!”

The problem isn’t that your son was being shy, but that he was never given enough time to process and respond to the question!  Try this instead: ask your child a question, and then close your mouth and count to 10.  This gives your child time to process and respond to what you’ve said.  I have used this technique time and time again, and I promise it works.  Try it with your child.  You’ll be amazed at the responses you’ve been missing!

Until next time,

Aersta Acerson

A Utah Speech Therapist


One thought on “Pausing and Using a Slower Rate-of-Speech When Talking with Children

  1. Pingback: Using Expanded Sentences to Promote Your Child’s Language Development | The Speech Clinic

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