Communication temptations are a great technique to motivate your child to communicate and to enhance their language development. It means deliberately setting up the environment so your child is exposed to something unexpected or surprising, or where they need help from you.

Most importantly, you create an opportunity for children to approach you, rather than just respond to you. They will want to initiate communication to get your help or to let you know that something surprising or silly has happened! The key is to pretend that you do not know something is wrong. This technique can be used with children of any age and at any language level. Since it occurs in a natural setting, it also makes generalising into everyday situations more likely.

You can incorporate this technique in almost any situation. For example, when blowing bubbles, hold a bubble wand to your mouth and wait for your child to look at you, do the ‘more’ gesture or say the word ‘blow’ before blowing the bubbles.

Here are some other ideas:

Pause in the middle of a familiar routine

  • Stand at a door and wait without opening it
  • Place your child on a swing/bicycle without pushing them

Make a silly mistake

  • Put clothing on the wrong body part e.g. a hat on their foot, socks on their hand
  • Put only one shoe on
  • Start to pour juice from a closed bottle
  • Put a sticker on your nose and pretend not to notice
  • Bring out a box of dried out markers/ blunt colour pencils during art and craft activities

Give only part of it

  • Give them a cup without anything in it
  • Set up a race track without cars

Make something harder than usual

  • Put snacks or toys in a clear container which they will need your help to open
  • Put snacks in view but too high to reach


  • Make it fun!

It is important to have fun and be playful and happy during the process. Another thing to pay attention to is your child’s reactions. We want them to be curious and interested but not upset. You know your child best! The number of times you use this technique also matters. It is best to do it occasionally so as to keep it fun and not to stress the children.

  • Ensure the level of difficulty is right for your child

When using communication temptations, choose something that you know your child has done before or is familiar with. For example, if they are learning to use gestures, choose a situation in which you have already been practising a particular gesture. We want children to experience success instead of failure to motivate them to keep trying.

  • Wait
    Sometimes it feels uncomfortable not to jump in and offer help immediately. However, children require time to process. It may be helpful to count five seconds in your head to give your child the time to process and communicate.