May 15, 2017
by Mary Pat

Will speaking more than one language put your child at risk of stuttering?

In my last post you found out all about stuttering in pre-school children in general. What does it sound like? When does it start? What are the risk factors? And most importantly, what you can do when your pre-schooler starts to stutter. You can read it here. The 10 Dos and Don’ts in the post apply to everyone.


This week’s post is about stuttering when your child speaks more than one language. This is a complex topic! Stuttering is an intricate problem to understand and treat no matter how many languages you speak. The research is very limited. It’s hard to find definite answers for families who speak more than one language.

Speaking more than one language and the risk of stuttering is still being debated in the research. No studies in the last 16 years have actually focused on the frequency of stuttering in non-Western cultures and it’s not clear why. There’s been little progress in the research about stuttering and speaking more than one language. Right now, in the existing research, there isn’t even basic evidence to support or contradict a claim that speaking more than one language puts your child at risk for a stutter. Remember that fact if a health care professional tells you otherwise. The evidence either way just isn’t there yet.  (I’ve put the research I read at the end of the post for you) There’s no justifiable reason for suggesting that a child who begins to stutter should drop a language. Language is for communication, emotion, family, and relationships. And dropping a language is not the answer.

The Stuttering Foundation (a U.S.-based not-for-profit organisation) says that no evidence has been found to suggest that speaking two languages in the home since birth causes stuttering. Colin Baker (a well-respected author on bilingualism) says the same thing. The Stuttering Foundation also says that there’s no indication that teaching your child a third (or 4th etc.) language causes stuttering. Additional languages are often introduced around age four, which can be a critical age for both language-learning and stuttering. Now they also say that if you notice that your child’s language isn’t developing as expected or you notice the beginning signs of stuttering, you do need to see a speech and language therapist. They mention holding off on the introduction of an additional language in these case until after age 6. But if your child needs 2 or more languages to communicate, then holding off may not be an option.


People who speak more than one language and stutter, including pre-schoolers, tend to stutter in both of their languages. Stuttering might happen a little more in the less-developed language. As competence in the less developed language increases, stuttering usually disappears.


So in the face of all this mixed information, what should you do? I think it’s a good idea to consult a speech and language therapist who specialises in stuttering. Find out what are their approaches to treating young children who stutter. If they tell you to drop a language that your child needs to function in their home, school, or community, don’t do it. While you’re waiting for an appointment, use the 10 Dos and Don’ts in my last post which you can read here.


If you like this post, please pass it on to your friends.

Let’s get talking!


What I read:

Multilingual Aspects of Fluency Disorders (2011) edited by Howell and van Borsell.

National Stuttering Foundation

Colin Baker’s A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism

Practical Intervention for Early Childhood Stammering: Palin PCI Approach by Elaine Kelman and Alison Nicholas

Yairi, E. & Ambrose, N. (2013) Epidemiology of stuttering: 21st century advances. Journal of Fluency Disorders 38(2): 66-87.

Description of multilingual participants who stutter by Geoffrey A. Coalson∗, Elizabeth D. Pena˜ 1, Courtney T. Byrd2 Journal of Fluency Disorders 2013 38:141-156.

Vonga, E.,Wilson, L. & Lincoln, M. (2016). The Lidcombe Program of early stuttering intervention for Malaysian families: Four case studies. Journal of Fluency Disorders 49: 29-39.

Schenker, R. (2011). Multilingual children who stutter: clinical issues. Journal of Fluency Disorders 36: 186-193.


April 19, 2017
by Mary Pat

47 Books & 8 Movies That Every Health Care Professional Needs to Read & See

A new student society has been set up in the university where I work. It’s called The Health Care Society and the whole point is to put the patient and the patient’s voice at the center of health care. This is something I’m very passionate about. So I’ve put together a list of the best books and movies that I’ve seen and read so far that give insight into what it’s like to be the person experiencing the illness or condition. No-one knows it like the person living it.

So let’s start with the books. These are all excellent reads and will move you both to laughter and to tears. I’ve read them all and ruined my mascara repeatedly! I’ve divided them into 4 different categories.

#1 First person accounts

  1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean Domnique Bauby
  2. Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin
  3. My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor
  4. Expecting Adam by Martha Beck
  5. I Think There’s Something Wrong With Me by
  6. The Wounded Story Teller by Arthur Frank
  7. Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient by Norman Cousins
  8. Meaning of a Disability: The Lived Experience of Paralysis by Albert Robillard
  9. Staring at Lakes by Michael Harding
  10. Hanging with the Elephant by Michael Harding
  11. Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows: A couple’s journey through Alzheimer’s by Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle
  12. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi
  13. My Left Foot by Christy Brown
  14. Like Sound Through Water: A Mother’s Journey Through Auditory Processing Disorder by Karen J. Foli
  15. The Impossible Just Takes a Little Bit Longer by Art Berg
  16. If You Could Hear What I See by Kathy Buckley
  17. Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison
  18. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  19. Paula by Isabelle Allende
  20. The Horse Boy: A Father’s Miraculous Journey to Heal His Son by Rupert Isaacson
  21. We Need To Talk About Grief: How to Be a Friend to the One Who’s Left Behind by Annir Broadbent

Your suggestions

# 1 Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

#2 The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

#3 My Donkey Body: Living With a Body That No Longer Obeys You by Michael Wenham

# 4 Against the Odds: Living with Motor Neurone Disease by Andy McGovern

#5 Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius


#2 Books about conditions

  1. The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin
  2. Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry Prizant
  3. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks.
  4. Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
  5. Migraine by Oliver Sacks
  6. An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks
  7. Seeing Voices : A Journey into the World of the Deaf by Oliver Sacks
  8. When the Brain Can’t Hear by Terri James Bellis
  9. The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doige

 #3 Fiction

  1. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  2. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
  3. House Rules by Jodi Picoult
  4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
  5. Still Alice by Lisa Genovi
  6. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
  7. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  8. Great Small Things by Jodi Picoult
  9. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
  10. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
  11. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

 #4 Medical Memoirs

  1. Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh
  2. On the Move by Oliver Sacks

Your Suggestions

# 1 In My Room by Jim Lucey

And here are the movies some of which are made from the books- I always prefer the book first!


  1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  2. Inside I’m Dancing
  3. My Left Foot
  4. Untouchable
  5. Me Before You
  6. Brene Brown Empathy vs Sympathy

Your Suggestions

#1 Patch Adams

#2 El Mar Adentro/ The Sea Inside

I’d love to hear about what other books you’ve read or movies you’ve watched that put the person’s experience at the center, rather than focusing on labels or deficits. Be sure and leave a comment below telling their names.

If you like this post, please pass it on to your friends!

If you haven’t signed up to Talk Nua yet, be sure and sign up to get future posts direct to your inbox!

Let’s get talking!



March 30, 2017
by Mary Pat

10 Dos and Don’ts For When Your Pre-School Child Starts to Stutter

My little girl started to stutter when she was 2 & ½ years old. And although I knew the theory, it didn’t stop me from filling up with anxiety about it. This post is for you if your young child has started to stutter. (Stuttering and stammering are basically the same thing) The kind of speech I’m talking about here  is called normal non-fluency. It’s also called developmental fluency. It’s most common between ages 1 & ½ and 5 years of age. Or 2 and 4 depending on where you read. The American Speech Language Hearing Association say that about 95% of people who stutter, start stuttering before age 5. It sounds like this:

#1 Repeating syllables once or twice (parts of words) li-li-like this

#2 Repeating whole words once or twice but but I want to stay

#3 Hesitations or pauses

#4 Fillers like uh and er and um The dog is uh black.

 These kinds of disfluencies as they’re called, tend to come and go. So you might notice them for a few weeks. Then they go away and then after several weeks, they come back again. With my little girl, it seemed to me that the stuttering came back when she was going through a growth spurt. She’d grow a bit, stutter for a few weeks, and then it would go away again. She’s 6 and 1/2 now and it’s gone for at least a year.


In young children, these disfluencies tend to be effortless- no tension as your child is not aware of them. I know with my little girl, they were effortless and she never seemed to notice them. But then we never remarked on it. One day, my mother did say to her I think you have so much to say that you have a stutter. (I nearly died!)  I just held my breath and noticed my little girl looking at my mother with a kind of What the bleep are you talking about? expression and then moving on- phew!! I didn’t know what to say to my mother so  I said nothing. Later, I asked a colleague who specializes in working with children who stutter what to say when people comment. She suggested saying, lightly, ‘Oh that’s normal for her age’.

The other thing to remember is that everybody hums and haws when they talk, to varying degrees. We start a sentence and then change our minds and pause and start again. We use those fillers like uhm and ah while we try to put our thoughts in order. I noticed after a while that she sounded like my husband! (Hope he’s not reading this!) So she was learning from the model she was exposed to.

These disfluencies are often happen alongside spurts of speech and language development. How many people are affected by stuttering in genera;? About 5% of the population is thought to stutter at any one time in their lives- this is from childhood to adulthood. But it’s a bit of a head-wreck trying to find a definite number because studies tend to vary in how they carry out the research.  When stuttering first starts, the ratio of boys to girls tends to be equal. By the time they start school the ratio is 3 boys to every 1 girl. There’s a higher likelihood of stuttering in an identical twin if one of them stutters. But for non-identical or fraternal twins, the chances are the same as for anyone else.


Do children grow out of it? The 24 months between age 2 & 4 is considered to be the time window for both the peak numbers in terms of it starting and children recovering naturally. And rates of growing out of it range from 68%- 96%. Again, the issue with the variety in how studies are conducted….it’s not black and white. And it’s very hard to identify which children will grow out of it and which children will go on to develop a stutter.


Is your child at risk of developing a stutter? The most straightforward information I could find comes from The American Stuttering Foundation who have a useful checklist of risk factors.

Having a parent, sibling, or other family member who still stutters is considered a risk factor. Other risk factors are starting to stutter after 3 ½ years of age, the stuttering lasting 6-12 months or longer, being a boy, having delayed language, (I’ll be posting about this soon so be sure and sign up to Talk Nua) and having speech that is difficult to understand. I have a post about that which you can read here:


What can you do about it? Here are 10 ways to support your child’s fluency:

#1 Slowly, Slowly

I speak fast and I realised that when my daughter started to stutter, she was trying to keep up with me! So I focused on slowing down- still sounding natural, just not at full tilt. Keep it slow and relaxed. This sets the scene for relaxed communication in general. And when we talk too fast, it makes it harder for our child to organise their thoughts, and express themselves. Make sure your body language is relaxed too- you’re not leaking impatience in your facial expression or tapping fingers.

# 2 Pause

Pause before you speak- maybe count to 3 before responding- all part of creating an environment that will support fluent speech. This is also good for giving your child the space to start a conversation if they feel like it. The Stuttering Foundation of America recommend waiting 2 seconds before answering your child. The idea is that not only will it create an environment for relaxed talking but children learn by imitation and may well adopt a slower rate which helps fluency.

# 3 Respond to the message not the speech
Think about the content of what your child is trying to tell you and don’t focus on how it sounds.  What’s more important? For you to really get what they’re trying to tell you so they feel understood? Or saying it according to expectations that it should be a particular way? This is important because showing your anxiety to your child isn’t helpful. After a lot of reflection, I realised that I was the only one who was anxious about my little girl’s speech. I realised also that I had anxiety that was just looking for a home and it happened to be her speech! Let them know by giving them your full attention (listening and looking at them) that you’re interested in what they are trying to tell you rather than whether their speech sounds smooth or bumpy.

#4 Ditch the questions
How was your day? What happened in school? What are you doing? Do you want to watch a movie? Questions are a pressure on speech; there’s an expectation of a response. And they’re not the best way to get a conversation going. So reduce your questions and use statements instead. When you do ask a question, wait for your child to answer before asking another one. I have two other posts with more tips on getting rid of questions here: and here:

 #5 Don’t give them advice
It’s not helpful to tell your child to slow down, take their time, start again, take a deep breath and so on- the kinds of advice we might instinctively give.  Instead, focus on other general ways to create a calm environment like not rushing in general or putting time pressure on like Oh there’s the bell. We’re late. What ways can you think of that will help your child not tire themselves out and get more rest?

#6 Undivided attention
This means 5 minutes undivided attention where there’s no rush. This isn’t time reading a book or playing a lively outdoor game. You let the child choose the activity and you play with them for 5 minutes giving your undivided attention focusing on what your child is saying rather than how he says it.

#7 Don’t finish their word or sentence for them

Your child is most likely not aware that their speech sounds different and you want to keep it that way at this stage. The British Stammering Association suggest that as long your child isn’t upset by the struggle, it’s better to leave them finish what they’re saying in their own good time. Keep normal eye contact so don’t look away. Accept your child’s speech without commenting but do keep an eye out for any signs of anxiety about speech.

#8 Keep it simple

We talk a lot in our house and once I paid attention to how I was communicating with my little girl, I realised that I was using very complicated language. Long sentences.  I’d fallen into the habit of expanding everything she said to make it even more complex! I had to work at actually saying less and keeping my own contributions short and simple. So no long and complicated sentences.

#9 Take turns

Make sure everyone gets a turn to speak and try to minimize interruptions. This isn’t easy! But everyone talking at once is another pressure on speech. I have a blog post about how to work on turn taking here:

#10 Let them know you love them just the way they are

When I was worried that my little girl’s speech, I found myself thinking about the future and what would I want for her if she did have a stutter? The conclusion I came to was that I wanted her to love herself the way she was and the only way I could think of doing that was by loving her the way she was. I never commented on her speech or drew her attention to it because I knew that was actually my problem and not hers. I didn’t want to infect her with my anxiety so I talked to a trusted colleague who specialises in working with children who stutter and that really helped too.

One of my favourite books about this is Ann Irwin’s Stammering in Young Children: A Practical Self-Help Programme for Parents– you can get it on Amazon.

If you’re worried that your child is stuttering, it’s best to contact your local services and talk to a speech and language pathologist and ideally one who has experience of working with young children who stutter. There are other treatment options for pre-schoolers that involve working directly on their speech. So far. one approach has not been identified as being superior to another approach. Each child and family’s situation is unique so this is something to discuss with your local speech and language pathologist.

 If you like this post, please pass it on to your friends.

Did this happen to your child? What worked for you? Be sure and leave a comment below.

Here’s what I read for this post?

Yairi, E. & Ambrose, N. (2013) Epidemiology of stuttering: 21st century advances. Journal of Fluency Disorders 38(2): 66-87.

The American Speech-Language & Hearing Association 

The Stuttering Foundation

Ann Irwin’s Stammering in Young Children: A Practical Self-Help Programme for Parents.

Let’s get talking!


March 16, 2017
by Mary Pat

What you need to know about speech development when your child speaks more than one language

So my last post was all about speech development and delay in general. How to know if your child might have one and what to do about it. You can read that post here:


This week’s post is about children who speak more than one language and speech development. Oh my God, reading the research nearly wrecked my head! One word comes to mind: complex….actually other ones came to mind too when I was wading through the studies- most of the words too rude to put here!


So what’s the story then? Well, the research has tended to compare multilingual children with children who speak one language. Which is like comparing apples and oranges instead of comparing apples with apples. Not particularly meaningful. But that’s what’s out there.  What did they find? I’ve done my best to keep it simple but all the same, fasten your seatbelts!


Some studies found that in comparison to children who speak one language, multilingual children have speech sound skills that are more advanced. They call this positive transfer. But wait for it…they also have speech sound skills that are less advanced. They call that negative transfer.


What else? This stuff is SO confusing to read.  It’s a bit like the story of the blind men and the elephant. But here are 6 definites.

 7 truths about speech development & speaking more than one language

 #1 speech development is complex whether you speak 1 language or 4. It starts while your baby is still inside you; hearing the intonation patterns of the languages around them- I love that! And there are lots of ingredients that go into learning to speak. More of that later.


#2 Where children are acquiring multiple languages (which is actually the global norm) the languages interact with each other which leads to variation in their speech development and makes it hard to have definite facts.


#3 These interactions mean that there can be positive and negative transfer across languages.

There are numerous studies that show positive transfer. In one study of Maltese and English speaking children (aged 2-6), the bilingual children had more consonant accuracy, speech was more consistent, and they had fewer speech errors than monolingual children. This is positive transfer. Negative transfer then is where the multilingual child makes more errors and more uncommon errors (when compared to children who speak one language).  And there are lots of studies showing this too! One study involving Cantonese-English speaking bilingual children ages 26-67 months found that the bilingual children did not have as wide a range of speech sounds as the monolingual children.


#4 So what’s the bottom line? Multilingual children seem to have overall speech development that is similar but not identical to monolingual children.


#5 Over the long term, when children have lots of quality opportunities to hear and use all of their languages, their speech sound development will match monolingual peers. 


#6 There are clear differences between languages when it comes to their influence on speech sound development. What makes things more complex is that the options for the combinations of languages in families is huge given the potential number of languages in the world and the potential family make-ups. Variety is the order of the day which makes generalisations hard to make from the research. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it means that the individuality of each child’s family structure and language patterns must be taken into account.


#7 Speech sound skills are not the same in each language. They tend to be spread differently across the languages. This is because the rules of languages are different. What does that mean? Well in Italian, words with many syllables are common. They’re less common in English. Consonants at the ends of words are more common in English. Not so common in Italian. I once assessed a little boy who spoke Italian and English and words like helicopter, crocodile, hippopotamus were much better in his English pronunciation than I would have expected for his age thanks to the Italian influence.


I also read a paper that reviewed 66 studies carried out over the last 50 years. Basically, what they say is that there is limited evidence to suggest that bilingual children develop speech at a slower or faster rate than monolingual children. There was evidence for more variation in the speech production of the bilingual children. Nearly all studies show evidence of transfer but the amount varies. It’s accepted that there are 2 systems interacting when the child is acquiring 2 languages. 


How does speech development happen? There are 3 processes involved with different skills needed for each stage.

 3 Processes of speech development: Input-Storage-Output

For input, your child has to be able to hear a sound and recognise that it is a speech sound in your language as opposed to an environmental sound like the tap dripping.


Then they have to store the sounds in the right order. And they have to store the meaning that goes with that sequence of sounds. And they also store what kind of word it is; noun, verb etc.  When they are older they’ll add the spelling.


Think about a new word you learned recently. Our favourite one for teaching the SLT students is cryptosporidium– a nasty little parasite in Galway water that gave us the runs. When it was on the news first, I couldn’t say it because I hadn’t stored the sound sequence. I knew the meaning but not the sounds. It takes practice to set down the right sequence and then I could say it no problem. And later I could spell it. That’s how word learning goes.


Output or production means their brains have to plan & execute the saying of the word accurately. They are little geniuses when you think about what has to happen for speech to develop!


Each of these skills is important for acquiring a competent speech sound system. This all takes from birth up to about age 6 +. After age 6 there are still some things to refine like intonation and stress in words like photography and for English speakers, the /r/ sound.


So what does all this mean for you and your child?

 #1 Speaking more than one language does not cause speech problems. This is universally agreed upon in the research and by professional bodies like the American Speech-language & Hearing Association (ASHA), the Royal college of Speech & Language Therapists (RCSLT) etc. (This doesn’t mean you won’t be told to drop a language. If you are told to drop a language, ignore them and read this instead:


#2 There is greater variation in the speech development of children who are learning more than one language. This can make the precise identification of a problem a little harder to work out. What you can do about that is when you go to see a speech and language pathologist, have a clear description of:

  • the languages that your child is exposed to,
  • the amount of time (roughly) that they are exposed to each
  • the ages they were when they began to be exposed to the different languages.


# 3 It’s reasonable to allow a greater range of normal variation in the bilingual children and allow more time for speech milestones to be reached. For any child, when you look at ages at which they should be doing things, it’s always important to remember that these are rough guidelines and not written in stone. At the same time though, you should see your child making progress i.e. speech gradually getting clearer. It’s important to identify children with speech sound disorders sooner rather than later.

If you do go to see a speech and language pathologist, here are 2 things to bring along with you to your visit:

#1 This form which comes in lots of different languages. It’s a report of how easy or hard it is to understand your child. And it’s a great starting point for exploring potential speech problems.


#2 This speech checker is for English but it will allow you to get a sense of what sounds your child is using at the start, in the middle, and at the end of words.


#3 If you do the speech checker for English, listen to your child speaking the other languages and make a note of what speech sounds you’re hearing. And write down examples of some words and how your child is saying them, especially if they are not saying them ‘correctly’ by adult standards. It doesn’t have to be precise, just a 1st attempt at mapping out their speech sounds.

If you like this post, please share it with your friends.  Be sure to leave a comment below about your child’s speech development.

Where is all this from? Here’s what I read:

Cruz-Ferreira, M. (2012). Sociolinguistic and cultural considerations when working with multilingual children. In McLeod, S. & Goldstein, B. (eds.) Multilingual Aspects of Speech Sound Disorders in Children.


Hambly, H., Wren, Y., McLeod, S. & Roulstone, S. (2013) The influence of bilingualism on speech production: A systematic review. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 48(1), 1-24.


Goldstein, B. & McLeod, S.  (2012). Typical and atypical multilingual speech acquisition. In McLeod, S. & Goldstein, B. (eds.) Multilingual Aspects of Speech Sound Disorders in Children.


Gildersleeve-Neumann, C. and Wright K. (2010). English speech acquisition in 3- 5 year old Russian children learning English. Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools 41, 429-444.

Let’s get talking!



March 2, 2017
by Mary Pat

Would you know if your child had a speech problem?

Are you worried about your child’s speech development? If so, then this post is for you. You’ll find the latest research and 5 things to do if you think your child has a speech delay.

Speech is the pronunciation of their words. If they say tat when they mean cat or Sue when they mean shoe. When children start saying their first words and putting words together, they don’t sound like adults. There’s a process of development that they have to go through to get to adult speech. While their speech is developing, they’ll do things like leave off the last sound in the word so boat becomes bo. They’ll leave out sounds in words like spoon and say boon instead. I’m not talking about stuttering. I’ll cover that in a later post so be sure to sign up to get that in your inbox.

It’s also normal to not understand everything your child says to you.  How much should you be able to understand?

Here are the numbers:

At 18 months, you can expect to understand about 25% of what they say.

At 24 months, it’s between 25% & 50%

And by 36 months it’s between 75% and 100%

This is only a rough guide so don’t panic if this doesn’t fit for you.

The percentages are slightly different for when your child is talking with people who don’t know them very well.

So for unfamiliar listeners, here’s how it goes:

By 3 years, unfamiliar people should be able to understand about 50% of what your child says.

And by 4 years, even though your child may not yet have totally adult speech, most of what they say should be understandable. If it’s less than 2/3rds of what they say at this age, they need to see a speech and language therapist.

So how do you know if your child has a speech problem?

The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) have a useful guide about the signs of speech problems in your child. Here’s what they say are signs of speech problems:
• If at 12-24 months, you child says the sounds puh, buh, muh, huh, and wuh incorrectly in words.

•If at 24-36 months, they say the sounds kuh, guh, fuh, tuh, duh, and nuh incorrectly in words.

• If between the ages of 24 to 36 months, they produce speech that is unclear, even to familiar people.

However, it’s important to remember that children vary quite a lot in their speech development.


What puts your child at risk for having a speech problem?

Sharynne McLeod and Elise Baker review the research on the risks in their book Children’s Speech. Now, although your child may tick several of the risk boxes, that doesn’t mean that they’ll have a speech sound problem. Some children who are mispronouncing words will grow out of it but at least half will need speech and language therapy.

There are lots of conflicting findings and gaps in the research but clear risk factors for speech sound disorders are being a boy, having on-going hearing problems, and having a family history of speech and language problems.

Here are 8 Red Flags for Speech Problems from Caroline Bowen’s book.

1. Not babbling or being late to babble. Babies generally produce strings of consonants and vowels at about 7 months or so. It sounds close to real words. And before 12 months, they should be babbling at least some of the time. You can listen to the different kinds of babble here:

2. Glue ear (posh name: otitis media with effusion) between 12 & 18 months is associated with speech delay.

3. Leaving out the first consonant in words isn’t typical if your child’s 1st language is English. So saying up when they mean cup. 

4. If your child has few consonants and/or vowels.

5. If they have problems with vowels after age 35 months or so. Many typically developing children under age 35 months make mistakes with vowels.

6. If they continue to leave out the last sound in a word at age 3 years. Typically, this goes away between 2 years 10 months to 3 years 3 months. If it persists, it might be sign of a speech problem.

7. Persistent, mild speech difficulties after age 6 years and 9 months of age are associated with difficulties learning to read and write.

8. If your child has an intellectual/learning disability, they’re more likely to have speech sound errors.

What can you do? Here are 5 Tips for Helping Your Child’s Speech

1. Trust your instinct and if you’re concerned then contact your local services. Children speech sound disorders make up a high proportion of the children on speech and language pathologists’ caseloads. Speech sound problems are common with studies indicating a range of 1.06% to 20.5% of children having a speech sound problem.

2. Be a good model of speech for your child. This means talking aloud about what you’re doing as you’re doing it. Describing what your child is doing. Using a slow rate of speech yourself. Turning off any distracting background noises like the TV when you’re having a conversation with your child. You can find more ideas here in this quick video on Talk Nua’s YouTube channel:

3. Don’t correct their pronunciation. Young children often think that you have the listening problem so correcting them won’t make sense to them. Correcting them may only frustrate them or cause unnecessary awareness. Just repeat the word correctly after them once. No need to emphasise the pronunciation because this distorts the word. You can find more ideas here in this video 

4. You could write down the words they say and how they say them and bring this along to your appointment. Or give it to their teachers or child minders if they’re having trouble being understood there.

5. Fill out this form

It’s a measure of how your child’s speech is understood by a range of people like parents, immediate family, extended family, friends, acquaintances, teachers, and strangers. And bring it along to your appointment too. It’s a good idea for both parents to fill it out and your child’s teacher too as people can have different perceptions.

So this post is all about speech development where the family speak one language. But what about families where two or more languages are spoken? Be sure and sign up to get my next post about speech development in multilingual children.

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Let’s get talking!


American Speech-Language Hearing Association

Bowen, C. (2011). Table 1: Intelligibility. Retrieved from on [24/01/2017].
Bowen, C. (2015) Children’s Speech Sound Disorders. (2nd edition). London: Wiley.

McLeod, S. & Baker, E. (2017) Children’s Speech: An evidence based approach to assessment and intervention. London: Pearson

McLeod, S., Harrison, L.J., & McCormack, J. (2012) Intelligibility in Context Scale. Bathurst, NSW, Australia: Charles Sturt University.

Pascoe M. (2005) Speech Intelligibility: how to evaluate and provide treatment. CASANA: The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America.

February 10, 2017
by Mary Pat

Is it selective mutism? Or the silent period?

So this week’s post is about selective mutism and what’s called the silent period in bilingual children.

Kate got in touch about her little girl who is 4 years old. She has an older sister who is 6 years old. Their parents are native English speakers living in Germany. Both girls have attended kindergarten since they were 2 years old so they are sequential bilinguals; acquiring one language at home until they enter education where they acquire a second language. Abby, the youngest suddenly stopped talking in kindergarten a few months ago. She’ll happily speak German with her sister at home but not in the kindergarten. She talks happily at home with visitors. She communicates non-verbally in the kindergarten and is happy to go there every day. Her parents and the pediatrician are not too concerned but the staff at the kindergarten are very concerned. Kate wonders is selective mutism a possibility? Another possibility is what’s called ‘the silent period’.

The name ‘silent period’ of language development doesn’t mean that the child doesn’t talk at all. It means that they aren’t speaking in the 2nd language. According to the American Speech & Hearing Association (ASHA), when children first encounter the second language (for example in pre-school), they often focus on taking it all in; they devote time to listening and developing their understanding. This may be the first time they realise that their home language is not understood & that their 2nd language skills aren’t quite enough to communicate effectively. In terms of a time frame, ASHA talk about a few weeks or months for older children and for pre-schoolers, a year or more.

As they move through the silent period children may start to repeat words that they hear around them. For example, they might repeat phrases that they have memorised. Examples in English would be things like ‘What’s this?’ ‘Look at me!’ Then they may quietly start to produce new words and phrases before starting to speak publicly. The Hanen Centre say that children may use a kind of ‘formula’ first where they use a phrase that they have learned (like ‘I want’) and then they insert their own word at the end of the phrase. Gradually they become more and more fluent while still making some grammatical mistakes as they are missing some grammatical rules. So a child might say ‘I no want that’. Some of the mistakes at this point are just the influence of the first language. And then others are the same kinds of mistakes that monolingual children make as they acquire their language.

It’s hard to find recent information about selective mutism and as always, there’s variation in what you read. Here’s a summary of what I found in the research:

On one hand selective mutism is considered to be rare in some descriptions (about 1% of children who attend mental health services according to the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders used by health professionals)). Or not as rare as once thought (7 in every 1000 children according to the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry). It’s described as a failure of the child to speak in at least one setting, while speaking normally in others and it’s considered to be an anxiety disorder. According to ASHA other symptoms include:
• not speaking interferes with school or work, or with social communication
• lasts at least 1 month (not limited to the first month of school).
• failure to speak is not due to a lack of knowledge of, or comfort, with the spoken language
required in the social situation
• not due to a communication disorder (e.g., stuttering)

So Abby would not meet these criteria, suggesting it’s more likely to be the silent period.

About 1/3 of children affected by selective mutism are bilingual according to a recent feature in ASHA (See the link below). The reasons children who are immersed in a new language environment are at greater risk for selective mutism are that they may have increased anxiety due to being in a foreign social and language environment. They may become socially isolated at school if they don’t speak the language. Children who are naturally inhibited or anxious may get stuck in the silent period as being silent becomes a habit that‘s hard to break.

It can be hard to distinguish between the silent period and selective mutism but the ASHA article I mentioned suggests it’s selective mutism when the child
• remains silent even after a protracted period of second language acquisition
• is silent at school in their native language as well as in the language of the school
• appears shy, overly anxious, or inhibited.

In terms of preventing problems in second language learners, here are 9 tips for teachers:

1. Find a speech buddy who speaks the same native/home language as the child and with whom the child
can communicate at school
2. Take the pressure off by keeping your own language simple
3. Be okay with the child responding in their home language
4. Make the environment warm, welcoming, nurturing, and supportive for the child
5. Allow the child to work 1:1 or in small groups to decrease communication anxiety
6. Don’t remand or require speech
7. Create early, meaningful opportunities for simple language expression. For example, teach just
one or two key words or phrases that the child can use early in the language-learning process,
and reward the child when they are used in a communicative context. The word “more,” for example,
can be used extensively during snack time to get more food or drink
8. Continue to build the child’s understanding of the school language to foster greater confidence
in using it.

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Inspired by:

February 9, 2017
by Mary Pat

Get your child to behave better…now and forever

So it’s been one of those days where your proactive parenting has gone out the window. (What’s proactive parenting you ask? Read all about it here But, you have remembered to connect with your child and validate their feelings after they have:

• Kissed your freshly-painted, white wall with mummy’s red lipstick (happened in our house!)

• Said very mean things out loud about another child in public (that’s us too…)

• Grabbed a toy off a much younger child and refused outright to share (you got it- us too….)

(Can’t remember that connect bit? Read it here So what do you do next? The No Drama Discipline people call this next part 1-2-3 Discipline.

1 definition: Remember that discipline is about teaching. Not punishment.  For example, when my daughter pushed me over in fury about not going on a walk with me, I waited until later to have the conversation with her about it. After I had connected with her, acknowledged her feelings and she was calm. Then at bed time, I asked her ‘How d’you think it made me feel when you pushed me over?’ I could see her little conscience kicking in and a guilty look on her face. ‘Yay’, I thought- that’s exactly what I want to see. Guilt can be good! Natural guilt from thinking about what you did & how it made someone else feel.

2 principles: Wait until your child is ready & Be consistent but not rigid.

Let’s find out what these are. #1 Wait until your child is ready So when your child misbehaves, their upstairs, logical brain is temporarily unavailable. Lecturing won’t work! We have to wait until they have calmed down. And this might mean waiting until tomorrow.

Ask yourself ‘Is she ready to listen now?‘ If not, wait.

Say ‘I’d like to wait until we’re really able to talk and listen to each other. We’ll come back and talk about it in a while.

Or you can say ‘I’m too angry to have a helpful conversation about it now. I’m going to take some time to calm down. And then we’ll talk later’.

You can start the conversation by saying: ‘I’d like to talk about what happened yesterday at the library. That didn’t go so well did it?’

#2 Be consistent but not rigid.

This means having some definite non-negotiables like physical safety. Like your toddler isn’t allowed to run around alone in a busy car park. Or your school aged child isn’t allowed to swim without adult supervision. And then there can be some exceptions. They give the example of having a rule of no devices at dinner. But if you’re having dinner with another couple, you might decide to let your child play games quietly on your phone so you’ve a chance to talk. The idea is that you’re consistent but flexible when circumstances change.

Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson who wrote No Drama Discipline say to use do-overs. Let’s say your child says something disrespectful to you. You can teach them how to speak respectfully by saying ‘I bet if you tried again, you could come up with nicer way to say that’. They need practice to get it right; not punishment or a lecture.

3 desired outcomes

#1 Insight

When you connect and try to work out what’s going on for your child; you get insight into their inner world. And they develop insight into how what they do affects you and other people. Eventually this insight will help them control themselves better; their words and their actions. You can say things like

  • When she took away the doll, it looked like you felt really mad. Is that right?
  • I was watching before you lost it with your brother. It looked like you were getting more and more annoyed when he was at you. Is that what you were feeling?

#2 Empathy

Developing awareness of other people’s feelings. Seeing things from another people’s point of view. Thinking about how what they did made someone else feel. You can do this about real incidents but reading together and watching cartoons together gives great chances for chats about feelings. Asking questions like:

  • See she’s crying? Can you imagine how she might be feeling?
  • Did you see his face when you yelled at him? That must have been hard for him especially when he likes you so much.

In the book, the focus is on behaviour that upsets others, but you can do this for positive things too. Like I saw how delighted Katie looked when you gave her a big hello.

# 3 Making things better

Asking questions like: What can you do to make it better? What do you think needs to happen now? Saying sorry isn’t always easy! They say that sometimes it’s okay if you actually deliver the apology for your child. The two of you can agree on the wording beforehand. That’s better than a fake apology any day!

So that’s the No Drama Discipline way. The short version is:

  • Be proactive and spot trouble before it begins.
  • Connect before you direct. Our job is to make them feel safe and secure; that we are there to guide them through the hard stuff
  • Acknowledge what your child is feeling
  • Get below their eye levle to be less threatening
  • Wait until you’re both ready to have a useful conversation
  • Give them chances to practice saying things nicer and make things better.

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Let’s get talking,


January 26, 2017
by Mary Pat

The first step towards better behaviour

So the last post was all about pro-active parenting from No Drama Discipline by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. It covered 3 questions to ask yourself when your child misbehaves. You can read it here:

But let’s face it, we’re not going to see misbehaviour in advance every time. So what do you do when the misbehaviour has already happened? Well, connection  the foundation of the No Drama Discipline approach. What’s that? It means that we communicate to our child that we value our relationship with them no matter what their behaviour. That we are there for them when they really need us. Unconditionally. We communicate to them that we’re on their side whether we like the way they’re acting or not. It’s like how we would respond if they fell, scraped their knee and were in physical pain. That’s the connect part.

Then we redirect. That means setting clear and firm boundaries. But we may have to wait for what they call the teachable moments. When our child is very upset, that’s not the time to try and get them to see that grabbing that toy off the other child is not a nice thing to do.

This post is all about the 3 principles of connecting and the 4 strategies for carrying it off.

The 3 principles of connecting with our children:

So- how do we connect? What do we say or do? There’s no one way to do this but it there are 3 things to do.

#1 Turn down the shark music.

That basically means pausing for a moment before thinking here we go again. I can’t believe she did that again and so on. Not jumping to conclusions about what just happened because of something they did in the past.

# 2 Be curious about the behaviour.

Asking in our own minds things like:

I wonder why she did this.

What is she wanting here?

Is she asking for something?

Trying to discover something? Communicate something

The idea is that we try to understand their inner world before rushing to judgement. So for example we were at a birthday party recently where one of the party games involved sitting in a circle on the floor. The party girls were age 6 and a little 2 year old tried to join in by sitting between my little girl and another girl. This did not go down well and my daughter began to say some mean things. I was mortified but took her out of the situation for a little chat. Then I realised that what she actually wanted was to sit next to one particular girl and the toddler had got in the way. My own shark music suddenly stopped and her behaviour now made sense. That doesn’t mean it was acceptable behaviour though. Or that we didn’t have a conversation later about it. And I’m readier now for future party crimes!

# 3 Think about the how

That is how we talk to our children when they are having trouble managing themselves or making good decisions. So instead of using intense facial expressions, raised voices, we could keep our face relaxed and use a warm tone of voice. I like the statements too like instead of issuing a command, saying things like The door is open (You want them to close it). Your lunch box is on the table (You want them to put it in their school bag). I have a post about getting co-operation going here


How we say things is important because it models how to talk to others for our child. We all know this right when we hear them chastising their dolls like mummy does! The  how influences how they feel about us, themselves and what they learn about treating others.


So what does is all look like in action? They describe 4 strategies in the connection cycle.

Strategy # 1 Communicate comfort

We hold our babies to calm them down and we soothe them right? And with our older children, we want to help them calm down when they need to. We can use words: It’s hard isn’t it? Can you tell me about it? The good news is that it’s more effective to do it without words. This means touching your child. And it might look something like this:

Putting your hand on their arm

Drawing them into a hug

Being below their eye-level

Rub their back

Hold their hand or give it a gentle squeeze.

Putting your arm around their shoulders.

This will release oxytocin and reduce cortisol which actually changes their brain chemistry and helps them calm down- amazing! We have to communicate to them that we’re not a threat because that would escalate the emotional intensity. And crouching down to be below their eye level is the quickest way to communicate safety and no threat.


Strategy #2 Validate their feelings

Resist the temptation to minimise what they are going through. This is hard! We want to focus our attention on genuinely appreciating their inner world, where they are coming from. The message we want to send is I get you. I see what you’re feeling and I acknowledge it. I can see how you might feel that way. I tried this recently when my little girl was crying because she coloured in the ‘wrong’ page in her school work book. She was very upset and I remembered this strategy. So I said You coloured in the wrong page and you’re very upset about it. You could almost see the upset drain out of her. Then another day she was saying something aggressive about hurting someone- I can’t remember the exact details. But that kind of talk usually alarms me but this time I said, I can understand how you’d want to do that. She was so surprised that I didn’t go into my usual lecturing about behaviour mode! And I could see she felt that I got her- for once!

This also means NOT saying:

You’re only saying that because you’re tired

It’s no big deal

Calm down.

It means saying things like:

You really wanted to go to her house today didn’t you? It’s so disappointing that her mummy was working and you couldn’t go.

That made you really sad.

You’re having a hard time.

I have another post with more details on how to validate their feelings here:


Strategy # 3 Stop talking and listen

Forget logic for the moment and definitely forget lecturing or sermonising.

So validate their feelings and then zip it! Really listen to the feelings within the words; not the literal words. Avoid the temptation to teach or explain. Don’t just do something, sit there!


Strategy # 4 Reflect back what you hear

This shows our child that we have heard them and it communicates comfort.  It feels so good to feel understood. This is different from acknowledging the feelings. Reflecting back would sound like:

I hear what you’re saying. You really hated it when I told you we had to leave the play date.

No wonder that made you made. I’d feel angry too.

It’s okay if you don’t get it totally right (No, I’m not cranky, I’m angry declared my little girl one day!) because this is a skill that takes a lot of practice to develop. And at least you are making the effort to understand them.

One last thing. While I really like this approach, you have to be in a good place yourself to be able to do it. So you need to look after your own needs too; making sure you have time for yourself. That you’re well fed and rested. It’s hard to do this if your own tank is empty. And go easy on yourself. It’s a long term project so just take baby steps and every bit helps!

So that’s the connection part. The next part of No Drama Discipline focuses on redirecting them towards better behaviour and that will be in my next post.


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Let’s get talking!




January 12, 2017
by Mary Pat

Three questions to ask yourself when your child misbehaves

Recently I had a very upsetting experience in one of those soft play places where another mother essentially said that I was a bad mother because I wasn’t keeping a constant hawk eye on my boisterous & sometimes bolshie 6 year old….

When I had recovered from the shock of feeling judged and reprimanded by a complete stranger in public, I did realise that lately, I have kind of taken my eye off the ball or gotten a bit lazy- issuing empty threats that I had no intention of following through on, using arbitrary rather than natural consequences to get the behaviour I desired, and expecting emotional maturity beyond her age…Hmmmm-does this make me a bad mother? It took me a while to realise the answers was ‘No’. It makes me a human mother trying to balance working full time and parenting consciously.

Of course I had a book in the pile that came to my rescue at the same time! It’s called No Drama Discipline by Daniel Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson. And it is definitely a very different angle on discipline.

So they say (and I think it’s fair comment) that when we think of discipline, we tend to think of punishment and consequences, but the word actually means to teach or to lead. As in the person receiving the discipline is learning through instruction. According to Siegel and Bryson, ‘Punishment may shut down a behaviour in the short term, but teaching offers skills that last a lifetime.’

For sure, our children need to learn skills like inhibiting impulses, managing big challenging feelings and thinking about the impact of their behaviour on others.

The 2 primary goals of no drama discipline are:

#1 Short term:

To get our children to cooperate and do the right thing

# 2 Longer term goal

Coaching our children in ways that help them to develop skills and the ability to resiliently handle challenging situations, frustrations, and emotional storms that might make them lose control.

We want to help them develop self-control and a moral compass, so that even when authority figures aren’t around, they are thoughtful and conscientious. When we use the ‘If you don’t stop that now, there’s no X later’ approach, they’re smart enough to ‘behave’ when we’re there. But we’re not there all the time! So this approach is about helping children grow up to become kind and responsible people who can enjoy successful relationships & meaningful lives.

The essential message for children in their approach is:

No matter how ‘bad’ you are I am here for you and I will guide you through.

It’s about saying ‘No’ to the behaviour but ‘Yes’ to the child. It is a relationship-centred approach where the relationship is critical to guiding the child and helping them to make better decision and choices. It’s all about responding rather than just reacting or operating on auto-pilot. Intentional or conscious parenting basically. Which realistically, we can only do in fits and starts when trying out the approach. It’s not easy!

So in the next series of posts, I’m going to set out the elements of the approach for you, focusing in particular on the fine details of how to actually do it.

 The three questions

When your child misbehaves, they suggest you pause and ask yourself: Why, what, how? I think the pausing by itself is great- a few deep breaths and I’m less likely to snap or raise my voice.

 #1 Why did my child act this way?

The tone of the question is important. When we approach the question with curiosity we can often understand what they were trying to express or attempt something but simply didn’t handle it appropriately. If we understand this, we ourselves can respond more effectively & compassionately. You can ask yourself:

I wonder why she’s having a hard time right now? Why did she hit me? Is she hungry, angry, tired, wanting attention, lonely etc? (HALT)

 #2 What lesson do I want to teach in this moment?

The goal of discipline is not to give a consequence. We want to teach a lesson- whether it’s about self-control, the importance of sharing, acting responsibly, time management, being kind. It might be that hitting is not okay or that we don’t shout in the library. You want our child to learn that there are lots of appropriate ways of expressing big feelings.

What do I want to teach her right now?

#3 How best can I teach this lesson?

The No Drama Discipline approach is all about putting the relationship first. This doesn’t mean accepting unacceptable behaviour or being permissive. One of their catch phrases is Connect before you direct. So instead of giving unrelated consequences, instead, you pull your child close to you or at the very least, put your hand on their arm and let them know they have your full attention. The first time you do this, they’ll be surprised! Then you acknowledge their feelings and model for them how to communicate those feelings better. So what would that be like? What would you say? Something along these lines:

It’s hard to share. You really want to play with both of those toys by yourself. Is that right?

Now that your child knows they have your attention, you can talk and as they become calmer and able to listen, you can look them in the eye and explain that saying nasty things or hitting is never all right. Then you can talk about some alternatives like moving away, not saying anything if you can’t think of anything nice to say the next time you’re in the library. (If only I had remembered this yesterday at the library…..)

Another phrase they use in the book is teachable moments. So when your child is very upset, that is not the time to try and teach the lesson as their system is just overwhelmed physiologically. I had an incident recently with my daughter where we were getting ready for our night walk to see the stars etc and she would not put on her coat. So I said, we’re only going out with coats on. It was late in the day, she was tired and totally lost it and pushed me over on the ground and the natural consequence was no walk. This time I had just read the book so I was prepared! So I did the connecting- I said very little; just picked her up and held her as she sobbed her heart out and gradually she calmed down. Later that night when she was in bed, I asked her how she thought I might have felt when she pushed me over. This was the teachable moment and I could see her conscience playing out on her face; the little guilty look. That’s all your looking for according to Siegel and Bryson – a sign that the child understands the impact of their behaviour on others.

We also need to take into consideration their age and developmental stage and the context of situation to work out how we can most effectively communicate what we want to get across. There is no one-size-fits-all and we won’t get it right every time. But if we remember it, then it becomes another strategy to help us parent better.

Things to say include:

To the child: What could you do to make this right?

When you’re angry, where do you feel it in your body?

I wonder how Jemma felt when she heard what you said.

That’s a tough one. What do you think you should do to make things right?

No Drama Discipline encourages children to look inside themselves, consider the feelings of others, and make decisions that are often difficult even when they have an impulse or desire to do something else.

Another way to reframe misbehaviour is that misbehaviour is our child’s way of communicating to us what they need to be working on; things that have not been developed or specific skills they need practice at. At the moment, for my little girl, it’s sharing, giving way a little more, and recognising bids from other children as friendly invitations rather than threats that provoke defensiveness. Misbehaviour can also be an indication that the child is having a hard time dealing with what is going on around her and inside her- she needs help.

So that’s the 3 Questions- be sure and leave a comment below to let me know how you get on with them. And if you like this post, please pass it onto your friends.

The next post will be all about the Connect step of No Drama Discipline and how exactly to do it.

Let’s get talking!


December 2, 2016
by Mary Pat

6 things to do when you are about to lose your temper with your child

So the last few posts have been about attachments and helping our children deal with their feelings. Now it’s time to think about ourselves and our own feelings that parenting can trigger.

When the red mist descends… you know the feeling. You’ve been calm and understanding all day long; not rising to provocation and calmly navigating all sorts of disputes and complaints without raising your voice or rationalising. And then suddenly, you just can’t take any more; the irritation builds until you say something mean and then the guilt appears for snapping at your precious darling! We’ve all been there! Part of the issue is that we tend not to be authentic about how we are really feeling; we try to be ‘nice’ even though we may be fuming; then it just leaks out anyway later in unhelpful ways. So we might be better off being more honest about how we are feeling in the moment. The #1 thing to do is pause and breathe, resisting the temptation to react instead of respond- not always easy but I definitely feel better when I manage to remember this! Next up are 5 steps from the highly practical and effective How to Talk so Kids will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk to help us deal with our own feelings as parents.


# 2 Describe what you see

So let’s say you notice something that needs to be done like your child’s toys tidied up or their coat picked up off the floor and hung up or crayons spilled over the floor. Instead of getting intense about it, try describing what you see in a light tone of voice. The Lego is all over the floor. Your coat is on the floor. The crayons have spilled out of the box. There’s a wet towel on the bed/floor. The light’s on in the bath room.  And my own personal bugbear: The door is open. (I just said that to my little girl as I was writing this and it’s like magic- she closed the door! So far it has worked every time and occasionally she’s even said ‘Oh sorry’ before closing it. And one day she even told my husband to close it!) It’s easier for children to concentrate on the problem & generate a solution when we just describe it neutrally to them.


# 3 Give information

Information is a lot easier to take in than accusation so you can try saying things like Apple cores belong in the bin. Walls are not for writing on. Paper is for writing on. Seats are not for feet. Again the tone of your voice is important so keep it neutral and low on drama when you can!


# 4 Say it with a word

Resist the temptation to lecture or sermonise with lengthy explanations-it just makes children tune out. Instead try one to two words like Eve, peas (I’m just doing this right now!). You can use more emphasis in your tone here and use your eyes too to communicate you mean business! Other examples are: Jamie, your lunch, your coat, the dog etc.


#5 Talk about your feelings

With this one, you talk about your own feelings without commenting on their personality or character. So for example I don’t like having my sleeve pulled, it bothers me when the door is left open, I don’t want to feel cold. For older children: I feel so frustrated when I start to say something and can’t finish or I object to being told ‘ I have to do’ anything. What I’d like to hear is ‘Dad, I’m ready to go. Can you take me please?’


#6 Write a note.

There are some lovely ideas in the book for this tip although it might take a little more effort to be creative and funny. One father wrote a note on the bathroom mirror: Help! Hairs in my drain give me a pain. Glug. Your stopped-up sink. Another mother taped this to the TV screen: Before you turn this on- THINK- Have I done my homework? Have I practiced the piano?  Another mother wrote a note on a paper plane and flew it into the room. The note said Toys away after play, love Mom.


You can combine #1 & #2 for example: That towel there is making my blanket wet. Wet towels belong in the bathroom. If that doesn’t work, you could increase the volume a bit with #3 Jill, the towel! Still nothing doing, then you can go a little louder with # 4 and Jill, I don’t want to have to sleep in a cold wet bed all night! Or I don’t like being ignored. I’m putting your wet towel away and now you have a resentful mother! Or if you don’t want to raise your voice, you could try a note: Wet towels on my bed make me see red! It’s all about matching the message to the mood!


Hope you find these ideas helpful! If you like the post, please pass it onto your friends.

Next time, I’ll be reporting on my No Drama Discipline experiences so be sure to watch your inbox!


Let’s get talking!