3 Reasons Why There Is Power in Waiting

Sep 21, 2020 | Blog

Do your kids ever yell “MOM!” over and over again?! To the point where you can’t even respond?! I’m sure the answer is yes. Well I don’t want to shock or upset you but sometimes parents do the same! This week we are going to learn about the power of waiting and why this is such a beneficial langauge strategy to practice.

Ugh! Just Give Me a Second!

This post might not be very technical, but it is just as important as any other post. If you are constantly bombarding your child with the same question over and over again, you probably won’t get a response. Here’s an example:

Mom: “Do you want a drink? Say drink! I know you want your drink. Say drink!….. (waits a second)….. Maverick just say drink! Look at me, dddrrriiinkkkk [mom exaggerates each sound]!”


Mom: “Drink! Drink. Drink!!!!”

Okay you get the point. This would stress me out! Honestly, I would get so flustered I wouldn’t know what to do and this is exactly what happens to kids. So let’s take a step back and figure out how we can change this situation.

Mom’s first question was “do you want a drink?” PAUSE here! Wait for a clue from your child to see what their response might be. Give them some time to process this question and figure out how to respond on their own. If they aren’t using words yet, model a sign!

If you’re new to signing with your child, check out this post where I help you get started.

Work Towards Spontaneous Speech

The end goal of speech therapy is for your child to communicate their wants and needs and maintain social conversations on their own without any help! Once you practice pausing and waiting after questions, keep going!! Another way to do this is by using a carrier phrase.

Carrier phrases basically give your child the initial part of the sentence and allows them to fill in the blank. I use these ALL of the time. Using this strategy allows you to to take a step back and allows your child to complete the phrase or sentence on their own. It reduces the pressure for a lengthy response and models what an appropriate response looks like.

I usually start with the phrase “ready, set, go!” No, this isn’t very complicated but since kids LOVE to play, I feel like this is an easy way to model the concept of a carrier phrase. Check out the graphic below for an example.

carrier phrases

Use the phrase often. Once it becomes familiar, drop the ending. You will build anticipation and this will encourage your child to complete the phrase on their own.

What’s Next?

You won’t always need to have long pauses or use carrier phrases. Eventually your child will be able to use longer and longer phrases on their own. BUT did you know there are a bunch of different ways to cue your child? It’s true! You might need to give lots and lots of cues (like hand over hand assistance) but eventually they’ll be independent.


Moral of the story? Slow down and wait. Let them figure out how to communicate with the right amount of cues- not too many to feel bombarded! You’ve got this!

Let me know your thoughts on this one! Feel free to leave a comment below or send a message straight to my inbox.

Alyssa Dudley, MS CCC-SLP

Owner, The Child Inspired