Encouraging Children to Talk Using “Communication Temptations”

Posted: June 1, 2020

Adults often try to encourage children to talk by asking them questions such as “What’s that?” or “Say _____”. While answering these types of questions may be fun for some children, you may find that it only works for some time before they lose interest. This could be because they have yet to learn the word or for other reasons.


Setting up a “communication temptation” is a simple way to encourage communication.  When you use communication temptations, you can also use language stimulation strategies such as modelling (saying) new words, waiting, repeating and expanding.

Here are ways you can use communication temptations to encourage children to talk/communicate:


-Keeping things out of reach: Keep certain toys, snacks or art materials out of the child’s reach (in a clear bin or on a shelf) to encourage them to ask for them. If the child points at an object, you can model the word and wait 5-10 seconds to see if they repeat it before giving it to them. If the child does say the word (e.g. “car!”), you can repeat it and expand by adding 1-2 words before giving it to them (e.g. “The BIG car!”).

 -Giving one item at a time: Give your child one item at a time when playing with toys that come in multiples (e.g. crayons, blocks, Mr. Potato Head, etc.). You can also do this when eating a snack that is cut-up in small pieces.  Do not forget to model new words if they point (“more” or “block”), repeat and expand by adding 1-2 words to what they say.

-Sabotage: This is creating a silly problem or situation that the child will notice right away. For example,encourage your child to ask for help by “forgetting” to open their snack or “forgetting” to give them utensils. You can also be silly and give them a glass with no milk in it, give them only part of a toy, or put socks on their hands. This should not be frustrating for the child, but a silly wait to encourage communication. Again, wait to see what they say/do, model new words, and expand on what they say.