Why kids have trouble finding the right word to say

By Kelli Johnson, MA

We’ve all had that frustrating, tip-of-the-tongue moment, when the word we need just won’t come to us. We know the word. We’ve used the word. And we’re sure it’s in our head somewhere. This is known as trouble with word finding, or word retrieval.

We tend to associate this challenge with adults, especially as they get older. But kids can have word finding problems, too.

Like adults, all kids have trouble with this once in a while. But some kids struggle with this a lot. And it can be very frustrating for them.

Sometimes word retrieval difficulties can be a sign of something else. Word finding can be hard for kids with language disorders or those who struggle with reading, like kids with dyslexia. 

Problems with word retrieval can also be a sign that kids are struggling with focus. It’s also common in kids who have had a brain injury, like a concussion. 

Dive deeper

    Tell us what interests you

    Share

    About the author

    About the author

    Kelli Johnson, MA is an educational speech-language pathologist, working with students from early childhood through 12th grade.