I received this message in an email recently:
“I have a child in my setting with very few words.
I’ve had late talkers before and I’m trying not to stress too much but parents are worried and I need some help to support them”.
It’s tricky when there is parental anxiety as this can add an extra layer of stress and accountability for you.
Here are some of my top tips when it comes to working with worried parents and family members.
1. Remind them of your Role and Experience
I always take the ‘expert’ role in situations where parents are super-anxious about their child.
Well, I do have a number of degrees and post-qualification certificates, as well as many, many years working with children of all ages. It’s not inflating my ego, it’s a fact and it can be reassuring for parents to hear this.
Think about how long you've been in your current role, how many children you've worked with before. Have there been children with similar profiles in the past who have overcome their difficulties? Can you explain (without naming names to preserve the confidentiality of the other children) how you were able to help those children and their families?
It can be helpful to reassure parents with your expertise and experience, just make sure you aren't being patronising. We may be experts in our field but they are the experts in their child.
2. Set Homework
Parents are often desperate to take action and crave guidance on what they can do at home with their child.
I’m a big fan of easy homework that can be woven into daily activities. Things like games to play in the car, during bath time, at the dinner table. Or I like to show parents how to modify story time with their books to include some speech and language activities.
You’ll find a whole bunch of these activities in my Early Years Speech and Language Course.
3. Include Other Family Members
Many of the families I work with have hands-on grandparents and other family members who are keen to help their beloved child.
I have a resource that I created especially for parents, grandparents and caregivers so that they can support their child in the home environment, weaving speech and language development into their daily activities.
Find out more about my Helping Your Child to Talk course here: https://www.thespeechandlanguagegarden.com/parents-helping-your-child-to-talk
4. Record Activities and Interventions
One of my favourite tools to use with families and education or childcare settings alike is my Intervention Record Sheet where all of the speech and language activities are logged. Extra bonus points and praise are given to the people who can complete a whole sheet in a week!
You can grab a copy of the Intervention Record Sheet for free HERE.
5. Record Videos
My final top tip for working with anxious or worried parents is for them to record videos of their child periodically, i.e. each week or month.
Then I encourage them to look back at the videos after 3 or 6 months so that they can see the progress their child has made for themselves.
I’m a parent too and I often don’t realise how much my own children have grown until I look back at past photos or see that their clothes are suddenly too small!
This can be the same for the parents we work with and this video exercise has helped so many parents to see the difference and measure the outcomes for their child.
So there they are, my top tips on working with worried parents and family members.
If you need to top up your expertise, enrol onto one of my online courses to receive specialist training from an expert (me!)