• User AvatarMiriam
  • 08 Sep, 2023
  • 3 Mins Read

How to communicate with your children 0-6 years.

Last week I spoke at an event at a school to parents and educators, including early childhood educators, on how to communicate with your children. The following points are what I use when coaching children, parents or educators to help our child’s speech and emotional capabilities. 

Here are the bullet points of discussion:

  • My experience – professional and personal including qualifications. My research is referenced,
  • Communication Pyramid
    1. Opportunity – time – devices down, cuddles, singing, babbling, bath time, bed time, in the car
    2. Eye contact – they copy what we do with our mouths, so try to be clear and correct. Listening – 2 steps. Shared attention is devices down. Turn taking is chat.
    3. Understanding; we build this up, provide experiences. We might not get verbal responses but we watch their body language and facial expressions closely.
    4. Verbal replies – aim for 5 turns. Talk as you do things – “let’s cut up the sandwiches into triangles”, “Do you want to wear your red or green t shirt today?” “What did you do at playtime? If a child only hears instructions for the first 5 years of their life they won’t have the vocab to hold a conversation by the time they are 14.
    5. Giving them experiences to build their vocab necessary to converse and learn to read and write. For example, going to the park and telling your child what you see, hear, smell, touch. Dinner around the dining table!! 700 words a minute are lost if you watch TV while you eat.
    6. Accurate speech sounds: Exercises can help to prepare them as tongue placement is crucial, find these in my book and online courses.
  • Have to give them the vocab of feelings and character strengths to self – regulate, handle their emotions and build resilience.


I also got asked a couple of questions –


Q – What can you do about children who won’t speak? You ask them a question and they simply don’t respond.


A – I’m not a Speech Language Therapist so I don’t deal with physiological or psychological reasons that could be in behind why a child just doesn’t speak.  But from my point of view, I’d say make sure you’ve given them enough time to respond, maybe count to 10 in your head. Model the answer while you look into their face, and speak to them everyday to let them know you want to talk to them. But also look into the why of this with an Speech Language Therapist.


Q – What do you say when a parent is surprised to learn they need to put their phone down or turn off the TV and talk to their children instead, because some parents are genuinely surprised to hear this. 


A – Tell them the why. Children learn and grow through contact with other humans. Our eyes, hands, face, our whole body! If we don’t give them our time, they may grow up dis-jointed from people, lacking in social and emotional skills. They also won’t build up enough words to hold a conversation, learn to read or write as easily as they could. A good idea would be to list these reasons, hand it to them and read over it with them so they can ask any questions.


Things are challenging out there in the education world, and becoming more so. We really, really need whanau to understand the importance of their role in bringing up their children and the danger of devices for overall well-being.


I have mentioned earlier, and it appears in our media quite frequently – our literacy rates in New Zealand are rapidly falling and a phonics programme being touted as the golden ticket that will solve all literacy problems, is not even vaguely close to being the answer. 


Here’s to another lovely week, Miriam.


  1. Fascinating information. I have a 3.5yo grandson who just started speaking real words about 4 mos ago. I cannot understand everything he says, but he tries so hard.i will have to send my daughter this link for advice.

    1. Thanks for your message Darlene, it’s great that he’s chattering away, definitely a stage in the journey of learning to talk so don’t worry if you can’t understand everything. But if you want to help him out repeat what he has said slowly but using the correct sounds and make sure he can see your mouth. There is a video you can watch on my website to show you what I mean. Here’s the link Clear Speech for Children and don’t worry, he won’t start speaking with a New Zealand accent! Miriam.

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