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Language strategies: Giving time

How does giving time work?

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

Illustration of adult giving time for child to play more

  • When you play with your child, leave plenty of time and gaps for them to say something or to respond to your language.
  • Before you have the next turn in the conversation, try to wait longer than you usually would.
  • Count to 10 in your head before you say something else.
  • Don’t worry if it feels like a very long pause!
  • Keep your attention and focus on what your child is doing to maintain your shared activity.
  • Before ‘jumping in’ with an answer, give a few extra moments to see if your child wants to respond.
  • Your child may respond with looking, using gesture, making a vocalisation or trying to say a word.

Why use this strategy?

  • Children with language difficulties need more time to respond to questions or comments.
  • Your child may need more time to process what has been said, to find the right words to respond, or both!
  • Children will often know the answer and they are more likely to communicate if they have a little more time to respond before someone speaks again.
  • Giving time helps children to understand it is their turn to communicate, if they want to.

Top tip

Leaving a longer pause can help to reduce the demands on your child’s language system and create a relaxed and unhurried talking situation.

Additional resources and information

Information to help you understand and support children and young people’s speech, language and communication: Speech and Language UK

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.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not 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 this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SL29

Resource Type: Article

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