One of the facets of speech therapy, unlike many other treatments that a child may have to undertake, is that opportunities to help the child are bountiful. What we mean by that is that a child with speech and language difficulties can be helped to take steps towards their speech therapy goals taken beyond the times they are visiting their speech pathologist.

This, of course, means that the child’s family, and in particular their parents, can play a huge role in the child’s speech therapy, and many of the ways that can be done present themselves in ordinary, day-to-day scenarios. These opportunities are especially beneficial when they call for verbal interaction.

At the core of these verbal interactions will be situations when the child wants or needs something. The reason for this is that these are moments when they are most likely going to be persuaded or encouraged to speak, given that there is likely to be some kind of reward as a result.

Whilst you can utilise any situation when a child shows that they are requesting something, here are 15 examples to get you started and to spark some momentum towards you thinking of additional ones.

  • Give them a bowl that has dessert in it, but without a spoon
  • Give the child a burger or sandwich but without a filling
  • Give them a drink but with only a tiny amount of liquid in the cup
  • Give them a cereal bowl but omit either the cereal or the milk
  • Send the child to brush their teeth but hide either the toothpaste or their toothbrush
  • Approach a door with the child but instead of opening it, stand at the door
  • Place something the child wants in a closed container or box
  • Place a toy or something the child wants on a high shelf or surface that the child cannot reach
  • Place the child in the bath or the shower but do not run the water
  • Sit the child on a swing or roundabout but do not push them
  • Place a treat such as a chocolate bar or biscuit in a sealed container that the child cannot open
  • Whilst they are getting dressed, hand them a sibling’s clothes or clothes that no longer fit them
  • Give the child a broken pencil or very short crayon that is too short to draw with
  • Give the child a toy to play with that has a component or important piece missing
  • Sit the child down to watch TV but do not switch the television on immediately

It might be the case that some parents reading through this list think that some of the suggestions seem somewhat cruel in the sense that it involves a parent tricking their child in some way, and it might even be perceived as toying with the child. Let us state that we are not suggesting that any of these are done for a prolonged period, nor that they are done without requesting the child to ask or speak as part of their speech therapy.

For any of the suggestions to work, and more importantly for the maximum benefit for the child to be realised, their parent must encourage their child to speak or to ask so that each of them is resolved or the child gets what they need or are asking for. We stress that if the child refuses to cooperate or gets themselves into a stressful state, there is little to be gained by trying to force them or prolonging their distress.