What to Do If Your Three-Year-Old Doesn't Speak

Language acquisition is one of the most important events in a child's development. But, what should you do if your three-year-old child doesn't speak yet?
What to Do If Your Three-Year-Old Doesn't Speak

Last update: 28 June, 2021

Parents tend to be eager to hear their children’s first words. We even wonder what their voice is going to sound like. Language acquisition is one of the most important events in a child’s development. But, what happens if your three-year-old doesn’t speak? Should you be worried about this? In this article, we’ll try to give you some answers to these questions.

Almost every child starts speaking without even realizing it. However, seven percent of one to three-year-old children have some difficulties or limitations when trying to speak as they should.

Do you want to know the causes of their language delay? What can you do as a parent? What’s the proper treatment? If you don’t want to miss this information, continue reading.

Signs that tell us your three-year-old doesn’t speak

It’s important to bear in mind that every time you go to the pediatrician, you must ask all the necessary questions regarding language development. This way, you’ll be able to do everything you can in order to help your children. Notwithstanding, we’ll show you some signs that may indicate your child suffers from language delay.

Boy trying to speak.
  • They’re able to repeat words and phrases, but they’re not able to use them to communicate their thoughts.
  • Children don’t talk spontaneously, they just repeat what they hear.
  • It’s very difficult to understand what they try to say.
  • If they need something, they don’t use words to explain what they need.
  • They find it hard to follow simple instructions.

If your child is three years old and has some of these problems, you should visit a speech therapist. A specialist will assess your children and give you a complete diagnosis.

What can be the causes of language delay in three-year-old children?

There are many reasons for language delay in children. Therefore, you should bear in mind that the sooner you identify the problem, the faster you’ll find the solution:

  • Sometimes, children suffer from otitis or they have excessive ear wax and we don’t realize it. As a result, they don’t hear as they should, so it takes a longer time for them to learn to speak.
  • Other children may suffer from hearing impairment, so they don’t hear properly. This impairment can cause language delay.
  • Lack of stimulation can be another cause of language delay. If children receive almost no stimulation from their parents or close family members, they’ll probably have problems developing this ability.
  • A short lingual frenulum also makes it difficult for children to produce certain phonemes.
  • Anticipating what your children might say may also cause language delay.
  • Not paying attention to your children when they’re demanding something from you. 

What will the speech therapist assess?

Once you realize your child has difficulty producing speech, you should take them to a specialist. Then, the specialist will assess the following aspects:

  • Your child’s ability to distinguish certain phonemes.
  • Their understanding level.
  • If they use non-verbal language (gestures) to communicate.
  • Their ability regarding sound articulation.
  • The organs that are involved in speech production, such as the tongue, the lips, the palate, the cheeks, etc.

After the specialists evaluate all the necessary aspects, they’ll design a special treatment, according to each child’s needs.

What can parents do when their children don’t speak?

First of all, it’s important to point out that the family context is very important in every kind of pathology. Therefore, parents must collaborate actively in the process to treat the child’s language delay. The following are some aspects we should take into account in order to help our children:

Boy producing phonemes.
  • Answer your children’s demands. This way, they’ll keep trying to communicate with you.
  • Don’t anticipate what they try to tell you. Let them express themselves on their own.
  • Use any opportunity you get to communicate with them, promoting dialogue.
  • Use games to stimulate their language development.
  • Try to avoid all childish talk. This is because they need to follow correct speech models.
  • If they try to ask for something, let them do it on their own. Don’t ask them constantly what they want. They must be able to ask for it. If you ask questions such as: “Do you want milk?” Or, “Do you want bread?” They’ll only answer by saying, “Yes!” Or “No!” As a result, you won’t stimulate their abilities to produce language.

If your three-year-old child doesn’t speak…

If your three-year-old child doesn’t speak, this information might be quite useful. However, your best choice will be to visit a speech therapist. They’ll talk to you about the best treatment to work on your children’s language delay.

Notwithstanding, you should take these aspects into account if you want to stimulate language production in your children. So, what are you waiting for to put them into practice?

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.