‘Comfortable’ is not always best for us….or our children!

Most of us like operating within our comfort zone.

The comfort zone is a cozy space where we feel safe and familiar. While it provides a sense of security, staying within its confines is not necessarily good for us.  In the short term it can give us that dopamine hit that feels lovely but it doesn’t always serve our long term goals well to always choose what is comfortable.

This is true in many areas of our life.

Choosing the most comfortable, cushioned running shoes doesn’t tend to result in strong feet that can walk along a beach easily when you are older.

Choosing to lie on the lounge to watch TV of an evening is rarely as good for us as going to bed that little bit earlier.

We are told that choosing to sit rather than stand doesn’t support our long term health and posture.

Choosing the less healthy food options can feel great in the moment but not so great if we do this for a lifetime.

Both children and adults can fall into this trap; fearing change and avoiding new experiences.  No one likes to be uncomfortable so we naturally tend to avoid putting ourselves into these situations.

As parents, we rarely want to see our children experience tricky emotions when out of their comfort zone as we ourselves know how challenging this can be.  It is essential however that we recognise that true growth and learning occurs when we stretch ourselves beyond the boundaries of our comfort zone.  This is true not only for us but for our children.

For children who need to learn new speech and language skills, the capacity to move beyond their comfort zone is often required.  When working with younger children, we can often weave facilitation of their development into play and everyday routines.  Children may not even realise that this is ‘intervention’ when adults do this well.  However, as children get that little bit older and move into their preschool years, speech therapy often requires repetitive practice and speech drills in order to change existing speech patterns and encourage new skills to develop.

Learning new speech sounds can be difficult for children as can learning new concepts at school or learning to read and spell.  It can feel uncomfortable when learning new skills.  This inevitably requires us to support our children to stretch beyond their comfort zones.

We all react differently when we feel uncomfortable.  If children can be supported to process rather than avoid these emotions then we are much more likely to see steady progress towards achieving therapy goals as well as the development of other important skills that will set your child up for a lifetime.

The Power of Taking Risks

Trying to do something that feels difficult involves taking a risk.  A risk that many children find difficult to take is that of risking failure but needing to try multiple times before achieving a goal helps children to learn resilience and problem-solving abilities  Developing the confidence to face challenges head-on is a skill that will certainly […]


“I don’t want to!” When Children won’t do their Speech Home Programmes

Your child or a child you educate is hard to understand.

He or she may have a speech sound difficulty and you want to help.

You have made a start by isolating this area of your child’s development for specific attention as you know that speech that is easily understood can help your child interact successfully and positively with others, make friends and reduce frustration.

If you are still unsure if ‘speech’ is the area of communication development that your child needs assistance in, then read one of our previous blogposts on the topic here  https://learn2communicate.com.au/my-child-is-difficult-to-understand/

You have decided on some sounds to get started with but…..

Your child or a child you educate is unable to imitate you when you model the sounds in words and encourage him or her to imitate you.

Your child refuses to do any home practice with you.

Your child struggles to focus, pay attention and fully engage when you attempt to practice at home.

You are struggling to find the time to do any home practice as have a busy schedule as a parent/carer or early childhood educator.

Let’s tackle one of these challenges this week.  Here are some tried and tested tricks that I have found can help carers and educators make speech home programmes work!

Your child is unable to accurately imitate the sounds when you model them in words

Here are some tips to try:

  1.  Don’t request that your child imitates you.  Instead of working on encouraging your child to SAY the new, tricky sound in words…take the pressure off for a while and simply model the sound in words naturally as it occurs throughout the day in everyday routines. For example, if you child’s sound to learn is the /l/ sound, you can repeat and draw attention to words such as ‘like’ ‘love’ ‘little’ ‘lick’ ‘lolly’ ‘lots’ and ‘light’ throughout the day.
  2. Speak with your Speech Pathologist (if you have one) about starting with an easier sound for your child to get started. Sometimes we need to start with something really simple and very achievable for the child in order to build confidence and motivation.  If you are trying this at home or in an early childhood setting without a Speech Pathologist’s guidance; then this advice is even more important.  Go back to the information you have about the child and the sounds that are difficult for him or her to say.  Perhaps choose one of the earlier developing sounds to start on.  Success breeds confidence.  There is an entire chapter to help you do this in our FREE resource available here https://learn2communicate.com.au/product/identifying-speech-and-language-difficulties-a-practical-guide-for-early-childhood-educators/
  3. I love the analogy of helping a child learn to ride a 2-wheel pushbike.  Would we just show the child how to ride the bike and then expect them to be able to imitate this new complex motor task without any other help?  Of course not.  This is similar to when helping a child learn how to use a new speech sound in words.  At first your child is […]

Less can be More

I am finding myself coming back to this theme more and more over recent weeks both in my work as a Speech Pathologist and in my personal life.

Take small steps every day and eventually you will get there.

When things feel overwhelming you can focus on this…just taking the next step.

Wow!  What a good reminder for all of us; busy Allied Health Professionals or parents of children who have complex and challenging communication difficulties.

Small Steps and AAC

Has your child been recently prescribed a high-tech speech output device?  Maybe you have been introduced to LAMP, SNAP Core, TouchChat or Proloquo2Go.  Does that sound like another language to you?  Well, learning to use AAC can be likened to learning another language.  It is another way of communicating and is quite different to using only spoken language.  Learning how to use an augmentative and alternative communication system is a BIG GOAL but…if you break it down into small steps it can be achievable in a manner that is not overwhelming for parents, educators or children.

Families we work with who have seen success with introducing AAC all seem to have one thing in common; they have taken it slowly and persisted with small steps over time.  If it is all feeling overwhelming right now, work with your Speech Pathologist to choose focus words and try introducing only 1 word at a time.  Model as well as encourage your child’s functional use of this word in everyday routines and take it slowly.

Less can be more.  We can focus upon building your child’s use of all the vocabulary that AAC has to offer step by step.  It doesn’t have to be all at once!

Small Steps and Speech Pathology Goals

So your child has been diagnosed with a communication impairment… therapy is recommended.  The next stage will be to decide upon goals.

My advice is that less is more.  Choose no more than 3 small things to achieve.  Choose goals that are important, that have meaning and that will make a significant difference for your child but keep them small and really specific.

Achieving these small goals helps your child to inch towards achieving those big, longer term goals whilst being motivated by small wins and success along the way.

This is far more effective than standing at the bottom of the ladder, looking up and giving up because it all feels too hard.


Choose a small number of goals that are specific, small and achievable.  This applies if your child is in therapy or if you are feeling overwhelmed with your role in all of this as a carer of a child who requires the services of a Speech Pathologist or other service provider.

You can say ‘no’

There are no quick fixes in therapy..not when it comes to Speech Pathology.  Families need to be able to fully commit and engage in the therapy process for children to make good progress. It is okay if now is the not the right time […]


Why does my child have a Communication Disorder?

There are many reasons why your child may have a communication disorder.

Some children may have a communication disorder which is secondary to another developmental condition.  These conditions include but are not limited to:

Hearing impairment, Clefts of the lip / palate, Intellectual Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder, other neurological conditions and syndromes including Fragile X Syndrome, Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy.

Some children may acquire communication disorders as a result of a brain insult e.g. stroke or head injury.

Exposure to toxins such as drugs and alcohol whilst in utero can contribute to the development of communication disorders for children as can exposure to trauma, neglect and/or abuse.

Most Communication Disorders have no identifiable cause

This can be quite frustrating for parents, carers and educators who often want to know ‘why’ their child or a child they care for has challenges with speech, language and/or communication skills.

Sometimes knowing the causes can be helpful….

This is especially true when we can put remediation in place that address the root cause of the issues.  A good example of this may be a child who has delays in his or her speech development due to conductive, fluctuating hearing loss. Often getting this identified early and working with an ENT specialist can result in this type of hearing loss being improved.

In many cases, however, even when the root cause can be and is addressed, a child may still require assistance with the communication challenges that have already resulted.

In most cases, even when a cause can be identified, quick fixes are not to be found.  This is not a very popular message to broadcasting but the truth is that communication disorders and challenges take lots of time, dedication and the commitment of the entire village around the child to support.

If you have any niggling doubts about a child’s communication skills…

Download our free guide and educate yourself about what can be expected at different ages and stage.  https://learn2communicate.com.au/product/identifying-speech-and-language-difficulties-a-practical-guide-for-early-childhood-educators/

Don’t blame yourself!

Remember that the vast majority of communication disorders have no identifiable cause.  Genetics play a very strong role but there can be huge differences in personalities, learning styles and skill levels across individuals even within the same family.  Don’t waste time blaming yourself.  This gets you and your child nowhere!  Accept your little person for who they are.  Nurture their strengths and get the help you need to support any areas of challenge and difficulty.

Contact a Speech Pathologist for a chat

You can email us at Learn2Communicate any time for free confidential advice info@learn2communicate.com.au and, if you are in Australia, you can contact your local Community Health Centre to speak to a Speech Pathologist who services your local area.  If you are wanting more support, your child’s Early Childhood Educator is a great first port of call to discuss any concerns you might have.

As we have previously mentioned in The Chatterbox…your child is not being lazy and it is highly unlikely that you, as the parent, have […]


My child has started to Stutter

Stuttering is a relatively common communication disorder that affects 1-2% of the population and impacts the fluency or flow of speech.

Children who stutter have difficulty saying what they want to using smooth or fluent speech.  Unfortunately the onset of stuttering in young children can cause much worry and even alarm for parents.  Luckily we have several effective treatments at our fingertips to help….but first, some answers to some frequently asked questions.

What Causes Stuttering

Contrary to popular belief, stuttering is not caused by anxiety, exposure to trauma / stress or parenting.  Instead, it is now known that stuttering is a problem with neural processing involving the brain activity that supports speech production.  We also know that stuttering tends to run in families and is more common in males than females.

Can Stuttering Appear Overnight?

Stuttering can appear quite suddenly or can develop gradually over several weeks or months. Stuttering is usually first noticed in the toddler to preschool years when children are learning to combine words into phrases and short sentences.  Stuttering can range in severity to very mild to quite severe.

Will my child grow out of it?

Some children will naturally grow out of their stuttering whilst some will require therapy.  As it is not possible to predict which children will recover naturally, speech pathologists recommend that children who begin to stutter should receive therapy.

What Does Stuttering Sound Like?


These are the most common type of stuttering behaviour. Repetitions often occur at the beginning of an utterance and may be the first sound, syllable or entire word or phrase.

  • e.g. “C C C Can I have the car?”
  • e.g. “Can Can Can I have the car?”
  • e.g. “Choc Choc Chocolate is yummy”
  • e.g. “I want I want I want a biscuit”


Children who use this stuttering behaviour sound like they are ‘stuck’ on words. The word does not sound bumpy as with repetitions but more like a struggle to get the words out. Blocking is often accompanied by facial grimaces or other body movements.


Words may sound stretched
• e.g. “IIIIIIIIIIIIIII want one”

How is stuttering treated?

Luckily we have plenty of effective interventions available for treating stuttering.  Those who receive early intervention have really good chances of becoming stutter-free particularly if that treatment is received in the preschool years when treatments are simpler and more effective.

Some recent research has shown that even children as young as 7 who stutter are at risk of feeling anxious about talking in social situations so this is another reason why we recommend treating stuttering when a child is under the age of 6 years wherever possible.

There are currently two evidence-based approaches that we use to treat preschooler who stutter at Learn2Communicate. These are the Lidcombe Programme and the Westmead Program.  Both are effective and many can be delivered either face to face or using telehealth.

Please contact a Speech Pathologist if you have any concerns that your child may be stuttering.  Contact us if you would […]



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