Listening, Understanding, Talking and Interacting

Learning to listen, understand and interact is important for children and young people. Children and young people develop these skills in their own time.

Find out more about all of the skills that come together to help children develop speech, language and communication- The Building Blocks of Language!

Building Blocks

Most children develop speech, language and communication in a predictable sequence. New skills build on skills they have already learned. Usually, we expect language and communication to develop over time and by a certain age. Yet, most children will progress at their own pace. Have a look at the Child Development Timeline for more information about what to expect and when.

There are lots of underlying skills that your child needs to be a good communicator. So if your child has only recently started saying words, they may take longer to learn speech sounds.

Some children with long term conditions may not develop all skills when you expect them to.

Click to find out why each building block is important for communication.

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Speech Sound Development



Screen Time

Tablets, mobile ‘phones, TVs, laptops and computer games consoles are everywhere. Most of us couldn’t do without them!

We know giving your child screen time sometimes feels like the only way parents can get things done. Giving them a tablet or phone is a sure-fire way of keeping them happy and busy whilst you get on with other things! 

But did you know that too much Screen Time could have an impact on your child’s language development?

Click on the leaflet for more information.


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Dummies and Speech Development

Many parents use a dummy to help soothe their child. This is understandable. Most babies have a strong sucking reflex and often a dummy can help settle a child. Dummies can be a great support to parents and babies in the early months of development.

But, did you know that using a dummy for too long can cause impact on the development of speech and language?

Click on the leaflet for more information.

Advice and Support Line Contact Details

If you have queries or concerns regarding a child or young person's speech, language or communication then contact the advice and support helpline in your area:

Renfrewshire Advice and Support Line

Are you a parent or carer living in Renfrewshire? Do you have queries about your child's communication? Contact the Renfrewshire Therapy Advice and Support Helpline:

Helpline Opening Hours

Monday and Friday 11am-1pm

Telephone Number: 0141 314 4624

Inverclyde Advice Line

If you have queries or concerns regarding a child or young person's speech, language or communication, contact the Inverclyde Speech and Language Therapy Advice Line.

Advice Line Opening Hours

Wednesday 12:30pm-4pm

Telephone Number: 01475 506150

Glasgow and East Dunbartonshire Consultation and Advice Line

If you have any questions or concerns about a child/young person’s speech, language or communication and are thinking about referring to Speech and Language Therapy, contact the consultant and advice line.

Advice Line Opening Hours

Wednesday 1pm-4pm
Telephone Number: 0141 211 6056

Friday 9:30am-11:30am
Telephone Number: 0141 531 6843

Or e-mail: [email protected]



Stammering Advice Line

Top Tips

Attention and Listening



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Try these simple tips to get the most out of talking times with your pre-school child!

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5 Tips for Helping Your Toddler with Talking

Tip 1 Follow Your Child's Interest

Playing is an important language learning activity. When you join your child's play, you can make this a good way to improve attention. This also helps them to learn words and develop interaction skills. To get the most out of play, it helps to follow your child’s interest rather than direct the activities yourself.

Click here to access the Follow Your Child's Interest leaflet.

Tip 2 Wait and Respond

Life is busy for everyone especially when you have toddlers or young children at home. Yet, waiting is a powerful way that we can help youngsters develop language skills. When children have few words, it’s tempting for adults to do all the talking. Some children are passive or not so confident. They may not get a chance to try out new skills and join in conversations like more confident children.

Click here to access the Wait and Respond leaflet.

Tip 3 Copy and Add More

Copying will motivate and encourage your child to interact with you. Copying also shows your child that you notice what they are doing. Copying might also encourage them to imitate you back.

Click here to access the Copy and Add More leaflet.

Tip 4 Repeat

We all know how important it is to practice when learning a new skill. Think about learning to drive or trying a new sport. Learning to communicate is the most complex skill that any of us learn. Children who are learning to talk need lots of help from you and lots of opportunities to practice.

Click here to access the Repeat leaflet.

Tip 5 Describe Instead of Asking

If a child is a less confident communicator, we often ask questions to get conversation going. This approach often has the opposite effect. It can stop interaction altogether if they feel under pressure to answer. They may not understand or don’t have the words to respond.

Click here to access the Describe Instead of Asking leaflet.

Helping Your Child with Unclear Speech

Top tips on helping your child with unclear speech.

Helping a Pre-School Child Whose Speech is Non-Fluent

When they are learning to talk, some children can stumble over words or pause and start again. This can sound like a stammer. It is normal for a child between the ages of two and five years to repeat words and phrases. They may hesitate while they are thinking of what they are trying to say. Many children will become more fluent as they get older.  Others can continue to get stuck and find talking difficult.

Get advice and information on how to help as soon as you notice your child becoming non-fluent.

Stammering Information - The Young School Aged Child

Lots of young children speak dysfluently at times. This can happen particularly when they are under some pressure to speak. There is no exact point at which normal dysfluency becomes stammering. There are features which help us to decide between normal non-fluency and stammering.

For example, normal non-fluencies are usually relaxed repetitions. This sounds like whole words repeated either at the beginning of a phrase. It can also happen when a child is thinking of how to finish a sentence.

There is a greater risk of stammering developing when the child often gets stuck on words. This might sound like prolonging or repeating part of the words. It might also sound like putting extra effort into finishing them.

It is also a concern when the child seems aware of and upset by their dysfluencies. It can be difficult to say for certain that a young child stutters. This is because there can be so much variation from day to day and in differing situations.

Stammering Information - The Older School Aged Child

By now the child who stammers may have been stammering for some time. Some children may stammer with obvious physical tension. Some may have mild, infrequent non-fluencies such as repetitions and sound prolongations.

To speak fluently children need to know lots of words, know how to put words together (grammar). They need to think of the “right word” or correct sentence to say what they mean. They also need to listen and understand what others say. They also need to learn which sounds we use in our language and how they go together to form words.

They also need to coordinate the movements for breathing and speaking. These skills change according to how the child feels as well as by the demands placed on him. When the child feels: happy, confident, listened to, sure of the content etc.., then it is easier to speak well. Speaking may be more difficult when a child feels upset or tired. This can also happen if they feel unwell, over-excited or unimportant. Any of these reasons may cause a break in fluency

You are not the cause of your child’s stammering but you are the best people to help their talking get easier.

Children Who Are Learning Two or More Languages

A bilingual child is one who hears or speaks two or more languages (multi-lingual).

Many young people learn more than one language in their pre-school years at home. Some children learn one language at home and then go on to learn another. This is usually English as an additional language when they start nursery or school.

Advice for parents of children who live with more than one language.

Useful Websites for Information


  • This website seeks to raise awareness and create better services and provision for children and young people with speech and language difficulties.
  • It contains helpful information on speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).
  • There is also a helpline for parents: 0300 666 9410.



Ambitious about Autism

  • This is a national charity website which provides practical information and resources. It was designed for adults with autism, parents and professionals.
  • You can read other people’s stories and there’s an online community called ‘Talk about Autism’.



Autism Toolbox

  • This is a resource for Scottish schools which includes real life case studies and gives practical examples.
  • There is a guide to interventions and support for people on the autism spectrum.



Baby Buddy

  • This can be accessed through a computer or using an app
  • It guides you through your pregnancy journey and the first six months following your baby’s birth.
  • It is designed to help you look after your baby's mental and physical health, as well as your own, and give your baby the best start in life. It includes helpful advice, tips and videos including come focus on communication.




  • This website provides information, which is downloadable, for people who stammer, parents and professionals working with people who stammer.
  • The website aims to bring people who stammer together and there’s a link to their Facebook page and a list of upcoming events.
  • There is also a helpline available: 0808 802 0002.




  • This will provide you with an overview of Makaton and how this supports children with communication difficulties.
  • Makaton uses speech with signs and symbols to help people communicate. It can be used to develop communication, language and literacy skills.
  • You could also follow Makaton on social media for weekly sign videos.



Scottish Autism

  • An organisation dedicated to enabling autistic people to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.



National Autistic Society - Scotland

  • Aims to provide individuals with autism and their families with help, support, and services they can access.
  • There is an online community and resources and advice for teachers.
  • The website provides sensory advice on topics such as eating and drinking.



Play Talk Read – Parent Club

  • The Read Talk Play campaign encourages parents to read, talk and play to their young children. It provides practical advice for parents to support their child’s learning and development.




  • This website provides information advice and resources on how you can support children who are selectively mute.



Talk To Your Baby and Young Child

  • A campaign run by the National Literacy Trust which encourages parents and to talk more to children from birth to three.
  • Have a look at this website for a range of useful resources, including advice plus lots of songs and rhymes!



I Can

  • I CAN is the children's communication charity.



BBC Tiny Happy People

  • Advice and activities to help your young child's communication skills.