4 Ways to Encourage Your Toddler to Talk
Up until your toddler begins to talk, your conversations with them will have been fairly one sided. Once children do start talking, you will be surprised by how quickly they pick up words.
At the age of two, most children know between 20 – 200 words, but by the time they hit three, that figure will have leapt up to around 1000 words. Toddlers don’t learn all these words on their own though, and this is where you come in.
Parents have a huge impact on their children’s speech development, so the more you do to encourage them to talk, the better:
The more words that your little one hears, the more words they will understand and therefore begin to use. Don’t just talk at them though; make sure they get a chance to reply too as part of a conversation.
Sing songs to your toddler and then go through each line of the lyrics with them slowly, so they can understand what you said. Once they have learned the words, encourage them to sing the song back to you.
Incorporate conversation into different games you play and let your toddler speak to their friends and family as if they were on the phone. This will encourage them to think of different things to say to different people.
There is nothing better than real-life conversation out of the house, so encourage your toddler to talk to other children their age. They will want to copy what their peers say and it will help them to develop social skills at the same time.
Your toddler may not have the strongest of mouth muscles, due to a lack of clear communication in their first couple of years, so it is important to build them up by articulating the words they say.
Your little one will learn to say words by copying you when you speak. Many speech therapists recommend sitting in front of a mirror and saying words together, and even singing songs. Your toddler will be able to see your mouth move and then watch as they copy the movement themselves.
There are also some interesting ways to help toddlers say specific letters – a floaty tissue will help them see when they have said the letter “P” correctly, and a dab of peanut butter on the back of their front teeth will show them where to put their tongue for the letters “D” and “T”.
One of the best ways to build up your toddler’s vocabulary is to give them a slight narrative of what they are doing throughout the day. Explain to them what they are doing and why they are doing it, as this will expose them to many useful words they can learn.
Repetition is a great way to develop your little one’s vocabulary. The more you say a word, the more it will stick in your child’s memory. For example, you could walk around the house with them and point at things that are the same colour, for example blue, then repeat the word “blue” until your toddler joins in.
Once your child does begin to say words, try and extend their sentences so that they don’t just start saying only a couple of words at a time. If your toddler points at your pet and says, “dog”, reply with “yes that dog is big and brown and called Monty. What is Monty doing?”
Helping a child understand what different words mean is crucial, as without the understanding of language they would just be talking gibberish. A good way to help them understand sentences is by asking them to do things.
Play in the garden and ask them to pick up and throw a ball or run to you, and see if they can follow the instructions. By the age of three, children should be able to follow directions that involve two steps.
Another good game to play is hide and seek with their toys. Place them around the room and then give them instructions to follow to help them find them all. For example you could say “Look behind the brown chair by the door”.