Connecting with a Nonverbal Child

Connecting with a Nonverbal Child

For parents of nonverbal children, it can sometimes be a struggle to know how to best communicate to their child. When they do something well, how to compliment them; when they do something bad, how to reprimand them.

However, there are seven key ways to get through and communicate with them in the most effective manner, and eventually may even develop language in them.

Be playful

One of the top forms of learning for children is actually play. They learn how to interact with others, morals behind fairness, and even language! Playing with your child offers a plethora of benefits, one of the top being communication between the two of you - both verbal and nonverbal.

It is important to try lots of different games, as you never know which will be their favorite. Definitely incorporate activities that promote social interaction, such as singing, gentle wrestling, playing Simon Says, reciting nursery rhymes, or playing I Spy, to name just a few.

It is important that throughout these games and activities you ensure that you are positioned in front of your child, and have them around eye level. This is crucial because it best enables them both to see and hear you.


Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right? Well, more importantly, it is also one of the best ways to communicate with your nonverbal child.

When you copy the sounds and behaviors your child makes, eventually they will begin to catch on and see it as a game. This will prompt them to make more sounds, or exhibit more such behaviors, in an effort to get you to copy them. As a result, they will become more comfortable interacting and vocalizing.

If done correctly, it will also prompt your child to copy you as well. This will promote the idea of "taking turns," so your child will be learning a lesson along with crucial communication skills.

When mimicking your child, ensure that you are copying how they are playing, only when it is positive behavior - as you don't want to proliferate poor behavior.

For example, if they turn their head one way, you turn your head the same way. If they stick out their tongue, you stick out your tongue. But if they hit you - of course, don't hit them or anything else!

Put an emphasis on nonverbal communication

While often overlooked, some of the aspects of communication that pack the most punch are actually gestures and eye contact. Enabling your child to master these will be a significant advantage.

So, when you speak with them, show that you are looking in their eyes, and use gestures as you speak to get your point across. Never talk to them while on your phone, while watching television, while looking away, or while otherwise distracted. When using gestures, exaggerate them to add emphasis. Combining the power of your body and your voice will better enable you to communicate with your child.