Every parent wants to raise confident children with healthy social and emotional development. A crucial component of this is their ability to effectively communicate. Children must have the foundational speech and language skills to understand the world around them, develop strong interpersonal relationships, and process their internal emotions.
Unfortunately, nearly 8% of children grow up with some type of communication difficulty. This can affect a child’s social and emotional well-being in different ways depending on their age and condition. For example, younger children who are unable to clearly process and articulate their thoughts feel frustrated. This can lead to outbursts and behavioral issues.
Older children may experience a variety of challenges. For example, children that stutter may fear being teased or ostracized by their peers. This leads to low self-esteem and isolation. Additionally, children that have a developmental language disorder often know exactly what they want to communicate but have difficulty articulating their thoughts and feelings. These children may exhibit short-temperedness due to their inability of having their needs heard and met.
Research on Communication and Emotional Health
One landmark study in this space actually spanned 29 years, following children into adulthood from ages 5 to 34. This study began by using standardized tests to measure the receptive language skills of approximately 7,000 children at age 5. When the study group turned 34 years old, researchers conducted the same test again. What they found was that children that experienced delays in their receptive language skills were more likely to experience mental health problems than those that did not have these issues.
The study concluded that: “The needs of children with language problems are complex and call for early and continuing provision of educational support and services.”
How Communication Issues Can Affect Education
As children get older, these issues can become more pronounced, with communication difficulties affecting both their emotional well-being and academic success. Here are some reasons for this:
Language and speaking skills help prepare children for learning to read and write. Children that struggle with their verbal abilities are more likely to struggle with literacy skills, which can continue to persist as they get older.
As children grow, they become more aware of their environment and the abilities of their peers. At this age, they may be increasingly interacting with other children their age – on the playground, at birthday parties, during playdates, etc. The differences in verbal abilities can suddenly become quite noticeable for children, and their social skills and relationships can suffer if they experience feelings of self-consciousness.
How to Help Your Child
It’s important to recognize that all children develop at their own pace. In fact, many children are simply late bloomers – and it’s only a matter of time before they speak a mile a minute.
With that said, it’s hard for parents to recognize if their child is experiencing a brief setback, or if there’s a more severe issue that could persist into adulthood. These signals aren’t always clear. This can be especially troublesome for parents because speech patterns become more habitual overtime – meaning the sooner you can intervene, generally the more progress your child is likely to make.
Therefore, if you notice your child struggling with their communication, or acting out due to their inability to express their thoughts and feelings, it’s recommended that you speak with your pediatrician or a speech-language pathologist. Speech therapists are communication experts. They work with families to evaluate, diagnosis, and treat speech and language issues, developing a personalized plan to meet your child’s needs.
Many parents that want to be more personally involved in their child’s speech therapy, homeschooling parents, or those looking for an affordable and convenient option, opt to receive these services online. Online speech therapy is just like traditional, in-person therapy, except families connect with their speech therapist over video (just like Zoom or FaceTime). Unlike speech therapy offered in a school or clinic, online speech therapy enables parents to more easily participate in their child’s care; parents can sit alongside their child during video sessions, learn directly from their therapist, and help reinforce exercises and best practices at home by incorporating them into their child’s educational curriculum and everyday activities.
About Leanne Sherred, M.S. CCC-SLP:
Leanne calls Austin, Texas home but studied Speech and Hearing Sciences at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and gained her Master’s in Speech-language pathology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She has worked in pediatric outpatient clinics, schools, early intervention, and home health. Leanne is currently the President and Founder of Expressable online speech therapy, a company that envisions a modern and affordable way for anyone who needs speech therapy to access these vital services. You can check out her blog here.