A deep and meaningful relationship
In the realm of Speech and Language Therapy, connecting with a child goes far beyond the mechanics of language and articulation. It’s about fostering a deep, meaningful relationship that nurtures growth, builds confidence, and unlocks the potential for effective communication.
As Speech and Language Therapists we embrace this art and invest in building authentic connections. We want to pave the way for children to embark on a path of communication success that will resonate throughout their lives.
Establishing rapport and trust is the foundation upon which effective communication and progress are built. In this blog, we explore the significance of making a connection with a child as an integral part of Speech and Language Therapy. We look at strategies, benefits, and the transformative impact it can have on a child’s journey to communication success.
The importance of connection
Every child is a unique individual with their own personality, experiences, and challenges. Recognising and respecting these individual differences lay the groundwork for forming a connection that goes beyond the clinical setting. A strong therapeutic alliance encourages a child to open up, engage actively in sessions, and make greater strides in their speech, language and communication development.
Strategies I use for establishing connection
Face to Face:
I always aim to get down and dirty: I sit on the floor with a child or at a low level so that it is easy for a child to look at me, even for a brief moment, here and there. When sitting at a table I position the child so that they can make eye contact with me should they be so inclined. Important: not every child wants to make eye contact! We must not be too focused on a child looking at our face or into our eyes. Sometimes some individuals find this disconcerting and off putting. They would rather look at what they are doing, and that does not mean that they are not aware of you or not listening!
I devote my full attention to the child. This demonstrates that they are important and that I am genuinely interested in their world. This is not always possible for longer periods of time, but I aim for 3-10 minutes of top-quality time before I might have a little break. I would encourage all parents and caregivers to try this out for 1 , then 2, then 3 minutes: turn off your phone and be 100% with your child no matter what. You will see your child really appreciates your undivided attention.
I try to discover and engage in activities, topics, or hobbies that resonate with the child.
Play is a big part of all Speech and Language Therapy sessions. This is because it is a child’s natural mode of communication and all learning comes through play and fun.
Respect for autonomy:
Encouraging a child’s autonomy is important. Where possible, I involve children in decision-making about session goals, activities, and approaches. This also makes sessions more motivating for the child.
As the connection strengthens, communication barriers begin to dissolve. Children are more inclined to take risks (challenges that are within their reach), try new sounds or words, and explore new ways of doing things.
A solid connection sets the stage for ongoing progress. The child is more likely to continue practicing and engaging in speech, language and communication exercises outside of therapy, leading to sustained improvements.
The transformation that can occur through a strong therapeutic connection is nothing short of remarkable. A child who once hesitated to communicate might now eagerly share their thoughts and ideas. Those struggling with speech sounds before might gain the confidence to practise them frequently and thus master them. The bond forged between the child and the Speech and Language Therapist becomes a source of motivation, encouragement, and resilience.
Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.