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Tuning into your child

What do we mean by ‘tuning into your child’?

Children communicate in lots of different ways as they’re playing and interacting. They might not be playing with toys in the expected ways, but you can still do this activity by looking at whatever your child is doing. They might be exploring an object, part of the environment, a physical movement, or something else that interests them.

Tuning into your child involves waiting, watching and listening to your child without interrupting them, to see exactly what they’re doing. You will know some things your child already enjoys and some ways they communicate, but it is still a valuable exercise to try. By starting to tune into your child, you will be
able to follow their lead in play.

We’d like you to:

Illustration of adult playing with child


Wait to see what your child is interested in doing or playing with. Don’t worry if they don’t like toys, let’s see what they are interested in.

Get down on their level

Ideally face to face, so they can see your eyes and face easily. Sometimes this means lying on the floor next to them.

Illustration of parents playing with child

Look at what they are doing

Don’t tell them what to do or make suggestions, just observe what they’re doing.

Now listen to your child

Are they making sounds, noises,

Are they sending you any messages?

Sometimes messages can be very quick or subtle, maybe a quick glance at you. Or more obvious, like taking your hand and putting it on a toy they need help with. Sometimes, your child might not send any messages.

Try not to join in, but of course if your child does communicate with you then you should respond, but continue to follow their lead in play.

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: SL206

Resource Type: Article

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