Sunday, 9 November 2014

Tips on Motivating your child in Public Speaking

When I look at my kids I see the vastness of their individuality, which sometimes baffles me actually, given that they have the same genetic mish mash, more or less same environment and same physical and mental support systems. And yet they all have their strong and weak points.

In some families, talking itself starts late. I read somewhere that is a family trait thing, and I see this to be true in 4 of my 6 kids. What I also notice is that the two who spoke early are more verbal and appear to have a more confident outlook. That's not to say the quieter ones don't have their own virtues, some that greatly outshine the other siblings. The four kids started speaking well after the age of three and continue to struggle with complicated and long sentences.

In the beginning, I was worried that this may be some form of learning disability, but time proved that some kids just naturally pick up later than others and have their own developmental pace. But the fact that they hit all other major milestones on schedule further calmed my frayed nerves. It becomes distressful if other milestones are also greatly lacking, in which case it is best to get it checked out.

So how can we improve this particular skill?

1. Vocabulary Hurdles: A lot of the time, the child can be struggling with a lack of words, he may have an idea of what he wants to say, but may be at a loss to verbally air those thoughts. So the first thing to do is try to pry out what it is that he wants to say, so don't bind him to any one language in particular. After you ascertain his idea, help him convert that into the language of presentation. The second thing would be either to encourage more reading or read to him from stories, newspapers, anything that he fancies that is age appropriate.

2. Little Show and Tells: Ask your child to describe the mundane everyday things, but keep changing the topic. His day at school, about his best friend, about the vegetable you are chopping. Encourage chanting and reading poems. You could even give him little flash cards to help him remember main points, or a chart to help his presentation.

3. Listening Skills: Often children with speaking difficulties may show a lack of concentration or attention whilst the teacher or you are talking. Train children to be attentive, maintain eye contact, not to fidget or interrupt when someone is talking. Note that very young kids have short attention spans as it is, so don't expect them to listen through an hour long lecture.

4. Body Language: An under confident child may stutter, have moments where he goes silent, may he slouches or avoids a direct gaze at his audience. Do not ever criticize these actions, just gently nudge him in correct direction, but don't overwhelm him. Be patient. Teach him polite verbal cues like greetings, and smiling and to look at the one they are talking to.

5. Ipad Apps: In collaboration with old school and personal steps like the above, technology can also play an effective secondary tool to improve speech and speaking skills, especially in young children. Check out this pinterest board with some free apps you can try.

6. Speaking in External Settings: Sometimes children have this fear of public speaking. They are afraid of rejection and being made fun off. A persistent word of encouragement from you about how trying is the main goal, and that you are proud of him no matter what will boost his confidence. So try and get them to talk to relatives, outside the his level of comfort zones, maybe to the nurses and doctors. Virtually any external setting outside your home can be used to this advantage, Just be creative, but do not be pushy.

7. Asking Questions: Encourage children to ask questions, invoke their inner curiosity by being curious yourself. Ask him 'why' about things around you, and he will pick up from you.

This is indeed a steep and slippery slope for us parents to climb, but consider that that as in all things, instant results are rare, you just have to keep at it, but persistence is a great virtue and combined with tolerance and patience, you will see a positive outcome.


  1. Very good share. A must read for all Mums who are worried that their kids dont talk much or talk late.