5 Steps to Help Your Toddler Start Talking
As parents, we all worry. We worry about what our toddlers eat, if they sleep enough, if they are happy…and frequently, we worry about their communication skills. Most parents will have concerns at some point, wondering if their toddler’s communication is on track and if their language is developing in a way that is expected – and in a way that will allow their little ones to grow into effective, eloquent communicators. Of course, any time you have significant concerns, please reach out to your pediatrician or a licensed speech language pathologist. The following tips may help your child start communicating more easily.
- Make it fun
One of the most important things to consider when you are trying to get your kiddo to talk more is to make it fun. Children are MUCH more likely to want to interact with you and try hard things if they are having a good time. A negative experience surrounding communication can quickly impact your child and reduce the chances of them wanting to try again.
- Hold the desired item up by your face
When you hold an item up to your face when you model how to say the word, your child is more likely to see what your mouth is doing. This can really help your child see what his mouth should be doing when he tries to imitate.
- Any attempt counts
The fastest way to make sure that your child does NOT want to try to talk is expecting him to sound just like you. When you model a word or sound, your job is to get really excited about ANY attempt at imitation. This attempt can come in any form. It might be the first sound of the word you modeled, it might be the first two sounds, it might be his mouth moving into the position to make the sound but no sound comes out. When you see your child TRYING to imitate you, clap, cheer, repeat the word back to him and show him how great it is that he tried. This will help to make sure that he wants to keep trying.
- Make it easy
Trying to talk is hard when you first start, just like any other skill. If you child cannot imitate a single word, try modeling just a single sound (vowels are a great place to start!). If single sounds are too hard, try substituting a movement or action that can serve as communication. We usually start with knocking to “ask” for something to be opened, pointing at the item he wants or using simple sign language.
- Keep him coming back for more
If your child is asking for crackers and you give him the bag when he asks, he won’t need to continue asking and practicing this skill. If you give him small pieces of something he wants or small amounts of time with an activity, he will be motivated to ask for more.
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