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 the simple tips outlined below, you can encourage speech and language development just by adjusting a few things!
It is extremely easy. No tricks or courses to take. We are going back to the basics.
Your body position is the 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.
Slow down your rate of speech and simplify your sentences. Use short, grammatically correct phrases. You need not 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.
Toddlers need extra wait time to process information and forumulate utterances. 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 planning.
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!
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.
Expand: Build on the word your toddler used by pairing it with another word or two. Keep it simple.
Repeat: If your child repeats your expansion, say it again!
Don't worry about your child's grammar and don't correct it either. Grammar skills develop slowly over the next few years.
The second technique: 3 strikes & you still win
Use this technique to encourage your toddler to use words instead of pointing.
Praise your child for all communication efforts! He or she is working hard!