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Why is my 4 year old child not talking? [Answer from an SLP]

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

There can be several reasons why your 4-year-old child is not talking. Some possible reasons can be hearing loss, neurological disorders, intellectual disability, lack of language stimulation at home, cognitive delay, and delayed motor and speech and language development.

If a 4-year-old is not speaking or has delayed speech development, it can be bothersome for both the parents and the child. As a 4-year-old starts preschool and for obvious reasons like not being able to express themselves and seeing all the kids around them talk they may feel left out and irritated. When it comes to parents, every parent’s ultimate joy is watching their child thrive and achieve all the milestones.

We often get emails and messages from troubled parents with the chief complaint that their 4-year-old is not talking or showing any signs of verbal expression.

What could be the underlying cause or how can we help them?

Speech and language delay in children is a common presentation affecting approximately 6% of pre-school children.

Some early Interaction skills a child develops to successfully communicate are attention, listening, eye contact, turn-taking, understanding of spoken language, and expressive language.

There are no rigid timelines as to when a child develops these skills. It depends on the innate abilities of the child, language stimulation at home, family members responses to a child's speech, and many more.

Here is a list of a few speech milestones that a 4-year-old is expected to acquire:

  • Child is expected to speak in sentences by now.

  • Their attention level is expected to grow by now and they should be able to attend to an adult-led activity for a short period of time.

  • They should be able to say most of the speech sounds.

  • They should be able to answer and ask simple questions.

  • Child can narrate a short story.

  • At this stage they can follow and maintain a conversation.

  • Child is able to categorize words or sort objects like fruits, vegetables, furniture, etc.

  • Child is able to understand 2-step directions and follow them.

If you notice a significant speech delay in your child, you should visit a speech therapist and get them evaluated.

A timely diagnosis can be quite helpful for the child to overcome the speech delay and overcome all the problems they might face as adults.

Tap to book free online consultation for speech therapy

What Causes A Speech Delay In Toddlers?

There is usually a reason behind any delay. It could be that the child does not have any good communication role models at home, have excessive screen time or that parents are not able to give the quality of attention the child requires. There could also be a medical reason, learning difficulties, etc.

  • Hearing loss If a child doesn't hear, how would they develop speech? Hence your doctor would always refer the child for hearing assessment if they present with a speech delay.

  • Neurological Disorders such as Cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, or Autism spectrum disorder can cause speech delays. The child often struggles with expressive and receptive language.

  • Speech and Language Developmental Disorders and difficulty producing sounds and forming words.

  • Increased screen time If children spend a lot of time on various gadgets, mindlessly watching, they might be picking up vocabulary but are not learning interaction. Interaction is a two way conversation.

  • Intellectual disability A child with intellectual disabilities often faces difficulty in understanding language and processing information

  • Lack of speech and language stimulation Parents are responsible to make the environment at home conducive for the child to pick up speech.

  • Speech sound disorders By 4 years of age the child should be able to say most of the sounds. If the child has difficulty saying many sounds, they might also experience speech delay.

  • Cognitive delay If the child has a lower intelligence quotient, they will have difficulty picking up many concepts and combining words to form sentences.

Would you like to learn why the child is not speaking yet? Contact us for a consultation today.

How can you help your child develop speech at home?

As parents, you spend the most time with your child therefore, you must support them to build their early skills by modelling and ‘scaffolding’ their language.

1. Talk to them: It is important to remember that, as parents, you are your child’s first teacher. It is your responsibility to be a good language role model for your child to imitate. Read stories to them. When you go shopping, describe the objects you buy. Incorporate activities of everyday chores, as the child knows colors, you can arrange vegetables as per colors, wash the vegetables and put them in the fridge.

2. Ask open-ended questions: Like "What did you do at the park?" Rather than "Did you have fun at the park?", or something like "What swings did you play at in the park?". It gives them a chance to explain things in detail and listen enthusiastically to them.

3. Revisit their favorite old story: Now that they have learned how to read, you can ask them to read the books and tell what word comes next.

4. Go for a walk: Pick up treasures like some stone you find of a funny shape, some feathers, colorful leaves, and much more, and ask the child to describe it to the family.

5. Play family Storytime: You can all make a story together and you can be the characters of the story. Describe the back story of every character. Draw the characters with the child as per their imagination.

6. Playtime with kids: Children need one to one social interaction to be able to learn skills like; making eye contact with the person who is talking to them, waiting for their turn to speak, understanding simple instructions, and of course to learn to use words or signs to communicate their wants and needs.

7. Cooking Together: Preparing a meal together allows for discussions about ingredients, following instructions, and using descriptive words to discuss taste, texture, and temperature.

8. Sensory Play: Activities like playing with Play-Doh, sand, or water can stimulate language development through exploration and conversation about textures, shapes, and sensations.

9. Word Games: Play word games like "I Spy" or "20 Questions" to improve vocabulary, critical thinking, and questioning skills. You can adapt the complexity of the games based on the individual's age and language level.

10. Mirror Practice: Use a mirror to help the child see and correct their articulation or lip and tongue placement when producing specific sounds.

How can Sounderic help your child?

Sounderic helps your child develop speech and language skills faster.

Our team consists of highly skilled and certified speech language pathologists with extensive experience in working with children. They understand the complexities of speech and language development in young minds.

Tap to book free online speech therapy consultation

Unlock Your Child's Communication Potential with Sounderic Speech Therapy!

Expert Team of Speech Therapists:

Our experts specialize in addressing speech delays, tailoring each session to meet your child's unique needs.

Convenient Online Sessions:

You can access top-notch services from the comfort of your home. The sessions are engaging and effective, fostering a positive learning environment for your child.

Proven Track Record of Success:

Check out our success stories and testimonials from parents who have witnessed remarkable improvements in their children's speech skills.

Family-Centered Support:

Sounderic provides resources and guidance for parents to support their child's speech therapy journey. We believe in a collaborative effort to achieve the best outcomes.

Global Reach, Local Touch:

No matter where you are, Sounderic's online speech therapy services are accessible globally.

Ready to embark on a journey toward confident communication? Choose Sounderic for online speech therapy and empower your child for a lifetime of success! 🌈🗣️

What parents have shared about Sounderic?

At Sounderic, we take great pride in the impact we have on the lives of children and their families through our online speech therapy and occupational therapy services. We believe that our services are making a difference, but it's even more meaningful when we hear directly from parents about their experiences.

Here is a heartwarming and insightful testimonial from a parent who have partnered with Sounderic to support their children's speech and occupational therapy needs.

If your child is not making any progress or if you feel your child is significantly delayed with their skills, please consult a speech-language pathologist to get advice and support. Please continue to use these strategies and let your therapist know what you have been trying and if you have noticed any progress in your child

Sounderic provides online speech therapy sessions for children with various communication disorders. We would love to help you. Get in touch with us on WhatsApp at +919644466635 or schedule a consultation with us at

Follow us on Facebook, and Instagram or join our community of 19,000 parents from all across the world here, "Speech therapy guide for parents".


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