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Language strategies: Commenting

How does commenting work?

Language difficulties are nobody’s fault, but changing the way you talk can really help your child.

In play and every day life situations, simply talk about what your child is doing.

Illustration of two fathers playing with toddler, all sat on the floor, looking happy and making eye contact

When playing, try and change from giving instructions and asking questions, to commenting on what the child is doing.

Let your child lead the play. You follow by describing what they’re doing, and joining in the fun!

In every day life, whether your child is eating a meal, in the bath, or exploring outdoors, comment on what they are doing.

  • “You’re looking for bugs…wow! You found a worm!”
  • “In the bath! You’re washing your tummy, washing your legs, bubbles gone everywhere!”

You can include specific vocabulary targets (new words you are trying to teach). For example, if teaching food words, play in the kitchen and add comments:

  • “You’re cooking the carrots, you’re cooking the apples, cooking me some chips, cooking an egg. Thank you!”

Why use this strategy?

  • It is a helpful way to help us avoid asking lots of questions!
  • It is a helpful way of providing new language, and useful language structures, such as sentence building.
  • It increases engagement by your child – they know you are paying attention to what they are doing.
  • It helps to establish joint attention – it’s harder to get them to come and look at whatever you’re focused on, and easier to go and join them in their interesting game. You can then add the language to comment on what they are doing.
  • It is non-directive, so there are fewer ‘battles’ about conforming. It helps take difficult behaviour out of the situation and can be a more positive and relaxing play time for both you and your child!
  • Some children don’t like an adult to join in their play, but are happy for the adult to comment on what they are doing. This gives them good language models.
  • You can do this whatever you are doing, wherever you are, all of the time!

Additional resources and information

Your first stop for information on children’s communication. Here you can find information to help you understand and support children and young people’s speech, language and communication: Talking Point

Visit the online hub of free advice and resources for parents with children facing difficulties in speaking and understanding language: I Can

Activities for parents, children and young people to improve their language, literacy and communication skills from home: Words For Life

An article on: Helping Your Child to Talk

Helping you help children to communicate: The Hanen Centre

The Giving Voice campaign aims to ‘give voice’ to people with speech, language and communication needs: Giving Voices 

Contact us

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.

Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

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Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

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