Q&A: How to Improve My Preschooler’s Articulation and Confidence?

CME WebsitesBehavior, Building Self Confidence

blockquote_bgMy child age is 3 years old. My child is a bit shy; he does not open up with any new person nor does he play with any other new kid in the surrounding area. Currently he is going to nursery school but he does not talk to the teacher or to his classmates nor does he play with them. He is not able to pronounce words properly. He is very mischievous at home with the people he knows. How can we overcome/improve his word pronouncement and how can we build his confidence?

It is great that your son is already enrolled in nursery school so that he is getting the opportunity to be around his same age peers, even if he is not yet engaging in play with them. It also means he probably has some good language role models. At age 3 children are still working on articulating many sounds, and are unable to pronounce some words correctly, but they should be understood at least 80% of the time and be using a large vocabulary of at least 200 words, as well as using sentences of 3-5 words. If your son has had a lot of ear infections, I would also suggest having his hearing tested to make sure it is within normal limits. Children with hearing loss (either due to fluid in their ears or permanent damage) will have difficulty with pronunciation. You can read our article on articulation to see what sounds your son should be able to produce clearly at age 3.

Since you describe him as shy, I would speak with his nursery school teacher about how she can help improve his social and peer interactional skills. His teacher can help encourage him to be more comfortable around his peers. She can maybe assign one “friend” for him to play with who is a more outgoing child, and then she can encourage that child to invite your son to play. The teacher can encourage the other children to entice him to play by saying things like “Give a truck to John too, so he can play in the sandbox”. etc. The teacher may also want to do things to make him feel special, such as make him her helper to pass out snack or help clean up after an activity. I am not sure how long he has been attending the program, but if he is new to it, he may just need more time to “warm up” and feel comfortable among his peers, especially if he hasn’t had much chance for peer interaction in the past.

This is a nice website with resources for parenting tips for a shy child.

If you feel there is more to his “shyness”, such as he is showing no interest in his peers or engaging with adults after several months in nursery school, you may want to consult a special education professional or child psychologist in your area to rule out any other developmental concerns.