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Boost Language Development in Your Child’s Natural Environment

language development tips

Trying to spark more verbal communication with your kiddo? We’ve got you! During our Q&A with Dr. Diana Barrett, the child psychologist shed light on language development hacks that parents can use to help kids find their voice. Dr. Barrett provides tips and advice to help foster your child’s chatter into crystal-clear communication! 

Dr. Barrett describes an effective technique called Pivotal Response Training (PRT) that can significantly contribute to your child’s language development journey. Make way for more magicial moments with your child! 


What is Pivotal Response Training (PRT)?

Pivotal Response Training is an evidence-based approach designed to foster language development in children, particularly those who are barely verbal and/or on the autism spectrum. 

Developed by Bob and Lynn Kegel, this technique aims to create opportunities for children to engage in communication and language expression in their day-to-day lives.

At its core, PRT involves prompting your child to produce language in a way that makes the experience natural and meaningful to them. 

The goal is to encourage them to echo or respond to a specific language target behavior. For example, if you want your child to repeat the word “juice,” you might create a situation where they want juice from the refrigerator.

language development for kids


The Step-by-Step Process of PRT

1. Identify the language target behavior

Choose a specific word or phrase you want your child to repeat or respond to, such as “juice” in the example given.


2. Find the right moment

Look for opportunities when your child is attentive and engaged, not during tantrums or stressful situations. Choose moments when they want something from you and are likely to be receptive.


3. Share control

Create a scenario where you and your child share control. For example, you hold the refrigerator door while your child asks for the juice. This sets the stage for meaningful interaction.


4. Provide a clear prompt

Prompt your child by saying the chosen word or phrase, “juice,” in a clear and distinct manner. Make sure they understand what you are saying.


5. Wait for the response

Allow your child time to react and produce an utterance in response to your prompt. It might be a simple echo or an attempt to say the word.


5. Natural reward

The key to PRT’s effectiveness is that the natural reward comes from the interaction itself. When your child responds with an utterance, they get what they want—the juice. There’s no need for external rewards like stickers or charts.

Pivotal Response Training

Making PRT a Part of Your Daily Routine

Identify opportunities

Take some time to observe your child’s daily routines and activities. Identify moments when you can naturally incorporate language prompts.


Stay patient

Be patient and allow your child to respond at their own pace. Remember, the goal is to create an enjoyable experience, not to rush their progress.


Keep it fun

Turn PRT moments into playful interactions. Make funny sounds or use animated expressions to engage your child and make learning enjoyable.


Celebrate efforts

Praise your child’s efforts and attempts at language expression, regardless of perfection. Positive reinforcement encourages them to keep trying.

Pivotal Response Training is a powerful tool that parents can use to foster their child’s language development in a natural and enjoyable manner. By seizing the many opportunities that arise throughout the day, you can create meaningful interactions that nurture their communication skills. Remember to stay patient, have fun, and celebrate every step in their language journey. 


language acquisition for kids


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How do you spark language development opportunities for your kiddo?

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