Renee Sakai
Early Childhood Development
Material Type:
Adult Education
  • Behaviour Management
  • Communication
  • Help Students With Special Needs
  • Language Development
  • Parenting
  • Visuals
    Creative Commons Attribution

    How to Use Visuals for Effective Communication with Your Child

    How to Use Visuals for Effective Communication with Your Child


    In this course, you are going to learn;

    a) Possible cause(s) of communication difficulties with your child,

    b) How visuals can help you and your child with effective communication, and

    c) Tips for effective use of visuals and communication with your child


    If this course is used in groups, ask students what challenges them in terms of communication with their child. Worried and stressed parents would become less worried and stressed as they share stories.



    Are you tired of your child screaming at you when you don't understand what he or she is asking for?


    ..... Maybe your child does not know how to verbally or properly request what he or she wants?



    Does your child have a hard time listening?

    no listening

    ..... Maybe your child does not mean to...maybe simply doesn't get what you are saying?



    Communication does NOT necessarily only mean verbal communication.

    Therefore, if you find it difficult to verbally communicate with your child, using visuals is a suggestion that may help you with better communciation. 



    .....Ok, let's break down.

    Here's an example;

    When you travel to a country where English is NOT spoken at all and you want to eat at a restaurant, how would you order food? You may use a menu with pictures as you point to the picture of food you want.  And you would have no problem communicating with a server even though you don't speak their language. And your server may say the word of your order in their language, which may teach you what it's called in their language. 


    That's what using visuals is for. With visuals, your child can visualize what he or she wants to tell you and you can pair the visual with a word to teach him or her what it's called. 


    Do you think you can use visuals for better communication with your child? Let's learn how to use visuals for effective communication. 


    Using Visuals for Communication (Choice Board/Request)

    Share these choice board samples and tell them they can make their own.


    No Success in Communication With Your Child?

    Does your child give you a hard time with frustration because you don't understand what he or she is asking for?




    Do you, therefore, give your child what YOU THINK he or she wants BEFORE he or she requests?




    That may take your child's opportunities for spontaneous communication.

    If you have a hard time with verbal communication with your child, let's think about different ways of communication. 



    Here's a scenario (example);

    1. Your child wants a cookie but you don't understand what he or she is asking for.   cookie


    2.  Your child screams for a cookie but you still don't get it.  huh


    3.  Your child now gives you a tantrum. tantrum


    4. wanna give your child whatever YOU GUESS he or she wantsno

    5.  After offering your child whatever you think he or she wants, you now figured out your child wants a cookie. Tantram ends. cookie


    Let's try with visuals (Choice Board ) choice

    1. Your child wants a cookie but you dont understand what he or she is asking for.

    2. You show your child a CHOICE BOARD that shows what he or she may want.


                                                                                                      (Image 1: Choice Board ("I want....."))

    3. Your child taps on/points to the image of cookies. choice

    4. Now you know what he or she is asking for. aha


    5. Enjoy your cookie, child. eatcookie


    .........See the diffecence? 


    Your child screams for a cookie..

    - Maybe your child doesn't know how to say 'cookie', which may cause the behaviour.

    But if what your child wants is visualized, that information would be successfully shared with both him/her and you. cookie

    As mentioned on the previous page, communication does NOT necessarily only mean verbal communication as long as the information you need is successfully shared. aha

    Download the attachment below and take a look. There are some samples you can use. 


    Now, let's see how we can use visuals for effective comunciation.



    How to Use Visuals for Effective Communication with Your Child


    Using Visuals = No Verbal Language Needed?

    Even though communication does not have to always mean verbal communicaiton, learning verbal language is still very important.

    Using visuals, therefore, does NOT mean that you don''t have to worry about verbal communicaiton. You do use verbal language when useing visuals. 


    Ok, let's go back to the scenario.

    1. Your child wants a cookie but you don't understand what he or she is asking for.

    (pointerYour child may scream with frustration. Then you stop him or her as you tell him or her that no need to scream in a nice and calm tone of voice.)


    2. You show your child a CHOICE BOARD that shows what he or she may want, as you say "Ok, let's see what you want."

    (pointerYour child may not get a choice board for the first time. But don't give up. DAY 1 is the hardest when you do something new. REPETITION is the key.)


    3. Your child taps on/points to the image of cookies. Then you say "I want.....coookie."

    (pointIf your child doesn't get it, help him or her tap on/point to the image hand over hand.)


    4. Now you know what he or she is asking for. You give your child a cookie as you show it to him or her to get his or her attention (eye contact). You say "Cookie. Cookie for ** (your child's name)."

    (point (1) If your child has a hard time with eye contact, hold a cookie (what he or she wants) right beside your eye (temple) when showing. (2) Make sure to pair the action with words that describe the action)


    5. Enjoy your cookie, child.


    dingWhen using visuals, make sure to pair visuals with verbal words so that visuals can help your child improve his or her language development. 





    Tips for Effective Communication


    What Else to Remember for Effective Commmunication?


    When thinking about effective communication, please remember these tips below;


    1. Doing Nothing (Waiting) Can Sometimes Be a Great Strategy watch


    Generally speaking, parents tend to do everytning for their child BEFORE he or she asks because it is time-saving and less stressful as avoiding frustration or tantrum. 

    If parents do everything for their child beforehand, when would their child learn/practice their coommunication skills? If your child doesn't have to spontaneously communicate with others as he or she just passively waits till someone brings what he or she wants, whats the point in learning communiaction? He or she would never need the skill. Before "helping" your child, therefore,  please consider whether what you are about to do may slow down your child's communiation development, whether your "help" is good enough or too much, or even whether your child needs help.

    You, overall, need to learn to wait for your child to spontaneously take action.


    bulbDoing nothing doesn't mean to be lazy. As you watch your child, you will get so much information such as a) your child's developmental level (what your child can do or can't) and b) goals to work on (how you can help your child with his/her development).




    2. Communication = One on One = You and Me 1on1


    When someone asks your child what he or she wants and , a second later, you ask your child the same question, that takes your child's time to think to answer and may frustrate and confuse him or her. Think about it, when someone asks YOU what you want and, at the same time, somebodyelse asks the same question from your other side, don't you wanna tell the person to be quiet because you are talking to the other person coverear?

    Same thing. Your child would think that way as well.

    Please respect your child's one-on-one communication as you remember that your child may need extra time to think and answer the question . 




    3. Remember the Goal (What to work on). goal


    Most iportantly, when you work on your child's communicationsuch as Request, DO NOT WORRY ABOUT GRAMMAR OR MANNER!

    The goal is to effectively communicate with your child. COMMUNICATION is what you are supposed to remember to focus on. Even though you also work on

    language development, let's stick with "Using words for communication", instead of "Saying perfect sentences with manner". Your child only said "water" instead of "May I please have a glass of water?"? SUCCESS! Why? Your child was able to communicate with you and that accomplished your understanding of your child's request. Isn't that good enough for now?


    bulbWith the request, you can help your child move onto the next step (building sentences) as you use simple words such as "Drink water" or "I want water".



    Let's wrap up




    Let's review;

    • Communication does NOT only mean verbal communicaiton
    • If verbal communication is not an option for your child yet, use visuals (visualize what your child may be thinking).
    • When using visuals, make sure to pair the visuals with verbal words, which can help your child's communication development. 
    • TAKE YOUR TIME: Don't put pressure on you and your child. No rush. No need to be stressed out. WAIT and see what you and your child need.
    • The goal is to learn effective communication for the purpose of sharing information with your child, NOT GRAMMAR OR MANNER


    For those who want to learn more about using visuals, here's additional information aboout visuals. Hope this helps :). 


    The answers



    tip Give your child opportunities to learn that he or she does't have to always verbally communicate. Be flexible as you give your child more options to communicate. 



    tipRemember, the goal is to get your child to be able to communicate with you in order to share information you need. You don't need perfect grammar or manner to get informed, do you?



    tipYour child communicates with his/her teaher to build trusting relationships like you do with your child. Respect the one-on-one communication. 


    Multiple Choice Questions to Review The Course

    (Select 1 answer in each question)


    When your child gives you a tantrum, what will you do?

    1. Oh my goodness, this child's embarrassing me. Whatever. I'll let my child do whatever he/she wants to stop the nightmare
    2. Oh no. My child's scream drives me crazy. I will scream him/her back to stop it.
    3. Hmm...I wonder what causes the tantrum...Maybe my child wants to tell me something but doesn't know how? Ok, I'll visualize what he/she may be thinking to see what he/she wants. 


    Q. 2

    When using visuals, you also;

    1. get your child to say perfect sentenses 
    2. say the words of the picture(s) that you or your child taps on or points to
    3. say "say please?"



    When your child's techer uses visuals to ask what your child wants, you will

    1. ask your child what he or she wants to get him or her to answer immediately
    2. tell the teacher what you think your child watnts
    3. do nothing to respect the conversation between the teacher and your child



    Learned well enough?

    Hope this course was helpful for you :)