Toddler Talk

Let's Talk Toddler Talk

How  you talk to your toddler can greatly impact your child's speech and language learning. The how includes all aspects of communication from listening to speaking to body positioning. 

With these simple tips outlined below, you can encourage speech and language development just by slightly adjusting a few things!

It is extremely easy. No tricks or courses to take. We are going back to the basics.

Position: Get Down To Their Level

Your body position is the very first thing to consider.  You must be on the same level as your child for successful toddler talk!

Sit, bend down, or squat to the level of your child. Make sure you can look eye to eye. Too many times I see parents "playing" with their children while standing or sitting in a chair while their child is on the ground. 

By getting down to your child's level, you will have your child's attention and he will have yours. Communication happens when people talk with each other not at each other.

Also, make sure your child can see your mouth. He or she picks up a lot of visual information on how to make sounds by looking at your mouth. 

Rate of Speech: Talk Slow

Slow down your rate of speech and simplify your sentences. Use short, grammatically correct phrases. You don't need to talk in long, complex sentences at this stage. This will only confuse your child more.

Rule of thumb: Try to match your child's level of language and then increase the complexity by one level.

Example: If your child talks using 2 word phrases, you talk using 3 word phrases.

Wait Time: Wait For Your Child To Respond

Toddlers need extra wait time to process information and formulate ideas. This can be difficult or even uncomfortable for some adults.

Not waiting long enough is a mistake I see parents make all the time! When adults talk, turns in a conversation happen quickly. We even interrupt each other.

Try to be patient and not interrupt all your toddler's good thinking and formulating.

Listen: Truly Listen To Your Child

Really, truly listen to your child. Don't half listen or pretend to listen. Concentrate on what he or she is saying and take it seriously. Listen as if your child's thoughts are the most brilliant thing you have heard all day!

Toddlers are smart and they can tell if an adult is not paying attention. They may get frustrated and give up. Why talk if no one is listening?

On the positive side, when adults truly listen to toddlers and take their ideas seriously, they gain confidence in their speech and language skills. They will talk more!

Respond: How To Talk

There are a few techniques on how to respond and talk with your child. This section explains what words to say and how to say them.

The first technique: Repeat-Expand-Repeat

This is a great technique to use when responding to your child's utterances.

Repeat:  Repeat any word your child says during play time.

  • Child says: "Book." Parent repeats: "Book."

Expand: Build on the word your toddler used by pairing it with another word or two. Keep it simple.

  • Parents expands with: "Little Book." "Soft, Little, Book."

Repeat: If your child repeats your expansion, say it again!

  • Child repeats "little book." Parents repeats "yes! Little Book."  

Don't worry about your child's grammar and don't correct it either. Grammar skills develop slowly over the next few years.

Second Technique: 3 Strikes & You Still Win

Use this technique to encourage your toddler to use words instead of pointing.

  1. Say a word while holding an object near your mouth (this brings your toddlers's attention to your mouth so he  can watch how you say a word) and wait for a response.
  2. If your child does not repeat the word, slowly bring the object toward him but still out of reach and say the word again. Wait for a response.
  3. If he still does not say it, bring the object to your child as you repeat the word for a 3rd time. Actually give him the object this time. 

Praise, Praise, Praise!

Praise your child for all communication efforts! He or she is working hard!

Click here for games to play using toddler talk!

Like this page?

Check out our very own Ebook, Toddler Talk (child not talking yet) or Toddler Talking (talking but needs a boost) You will learn more detailed strategies as well as play strategies!

Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference.

Follow Bridget at Facebook and Pinterest for more fun!

› Talk With Toddler