Do you attempt to engage your child in conversation by asking questions?

Does your child answer you with one word or symbol answers?


If this is the case, then this blog post is for you! Let’s talk about a different approach you can try that does not require asking a lot of questions.


Have you ever heard of non-directive communication? Non-directive language is a treatment approach that is naturalistic, pressure-free, and parent-friendly. Non-directive language consists of comments, descriptions, and observations made by us (parents, teachers, speech-language pathologists, nannies).


Examples of non-directive language:


  • I see a …..
  • Wow you made a ….
  • I like your…..
  • I’m going to…..
  • Yummy ice cream…..
  • I feel…..
  • It is…..
  • You are silly


Directive language is the opposite of non-directive language. Directives put the child in the responder role. Directives are not “bad” but should not be the majority of your interactions. Many times we use directive language as an attempt to engage a child, but let’s face it just because they answer a question doesn’t mean you are having a conversation.


Examples of directive language:


  • Show me….
  • Find the …..
  • Point to the …..
  • Say …..
  • What is it…..
  • Is this a…..


Why should we use more non-directive language then directive language?


Non-directive language gives our children a great conversation model. It teaches children that we use language for more than answering questions and requesting. Non-directive language works for children with a variety of communication needs, including individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).


How can you use non-directive language?


Every time you go to ask a question ask yourself:


  • Why am I asking this question
  • DO I already know the answer to this question?
  • Is it my intention to test or communicate?
  • How can I make this question a comment/statement/observation?


Directive Language/Questions Non-directive language
What color is this? I see a red car.
Show me cat. Wow a black cat.
What are you wearing? You got a new coat. I like it


See the attachment below to practice using non-directive language at home!

TPT Non-Directive Langauge PDF



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