Focused Feedback

Some kids will need more than subtle feedback (described here)  to realize they do/say anything differently than anyone else. As these kids get a little older and approach the age of typical mastery, we should begin giving them focused feedback.

Focused feedback explicitly highlights the difference between what the child said vs. what focusedthe parent says, whereas typical feedback is not as direct. There are different ways we can do this. Again, I encourage you to try different things and find what feels the most natural for you.

One way to provide focused feedback is to verbally draw attention to what you are saying.

Sticking with the “wed hat” example, some focused feedback could sound like this:

Oh, you want your rredd hat. Here it is. Listen to how I say that word – rrrrrred. I use my tongue to say /r/, not my lips.

Another way to give focused feedback is to draw attention to your mouth as you say the word.

With the /w/ – /r/ example, it can be difficult for some to recognize the difference from the sound alone. Some kids need to see and hear the difference (possibly many, many times) for it to click.

We can do this by pointing to our mouths, or saying something like this:

Hey, sweetie, watch my mouth when I say this … (wait for them to be looking at your mouth) … “rrrrrrrred.”

Depending on your child’s level of attention, you can continue to give more information. For example:

Watch my mouth when I say  … “rrrrrrrred.” I’m making the “rrr” sound with my tongue. Now watch what happens when I use my lips instead … “wed.” Did you hear that? 

Are they still listening? Keep going!

…When I use my tongue it sounds like “rrrr,” when I use my lips it sounds like “w.”  I’ll do it both ways now – “wed … rred … wed … rred.” Isn’t that funny?

Again, you don’t need to drag it out. Only give what you feel they are receptive to in the moment. Let me know how it goes!


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