Toddlers start talking around the age of two. They’ll start with single words like doggie and then move on to simple sentences at around three years.
This is when she can carry on a fairly understandable conversation with other people.
But not all toddlers develop at the same pace. If your toddler seems to be lagging behind, it’s definitely a good idea to talk to your paediatrician.
But in most cases, they just need a little more time to learn how to communicate with words.
In the meantime, there is plenty you can do to help them talk. Read on to learn on how to encourage your toddler to talk.
Play don’t teach
Toddlers understand one thing better than anything else – play. It’s why even something like convincing them to eat their dinner works best when you turn it into a game.
Trying to teach your child to talk will be frustrating for both you and your kid.
The thing is, toddlers love to talk even if they still can’t do it fully. They have been taking in information the last couple of years and are also discovering new feeling and emotions.
So the inability to express themselves properly is just as frustrating for them. It’s one of the reasons behind temper tantrums around the age of two.
The best way to help them learn how to communicate is through fun interactive activities.
Here are a few ideas.
1. Have frequent conversations
Ultimately, the best way to help your toddler talk is to actually talk to them.
Kids learn a lot through observation and interaction. When you talk to them, they’ll quickly learn to talk to you as well.
Don’t use baby talk. Talk to them as you would any other person, even if you don’t think they can understand what you are saying.
Take every opportunity to make normal conversation.
Describe what you are doing, point out objects in the room, talk about the sky and trees or just tell them how your day went.
If they can talk a bit, be interested in what they have to say. Look at the face as they talk and answer their questions with all seriousness.
Don’t focus on their pronunciation or correct use of words. What matters is what they are saying.
2. Ask them questions
Asking a toddler questions can spur them to talk more.
Think up open-ended questions such as ‘where do you think the sun comes from?’ They don’t have to know the answer.
The point is to encourage them to talk.
Show interest in their answer, no matter how ridiculous it might be.
You can also ask questions based on what they are doing. For example, ‘where is your car going?’ or ‘what does your dinosaur eat?’
Such question on things they are interested in might draw more words out of them.
3. Give feedback
Even if your child is just saying single words, respond to them. This will encourage them to speak up more.
If for instance they say ‘cup’, say, ‘that’s right, that’s a cup’.
Keep going and add something like, ‘we use it to drink milk.’ This gives them new words that they can connect to a word they already know. You are essentially building their vocabulary.
Soon, they’ll be able to go from single words to short phrases.
- Give your toddler time to talk. If you ask a question, leave enough time for them to reply before you talk again.
- Talking is not the only way to encourage them to talk. Sing nursery rhymes and encourage them to sing along.
- Read to them, even if they can’t understand a thing. Reading is one of the most effective ways to build a child’s language and vocabulary. Look for age-appropriate books with simple sentences and rhythmic story telling.
- Reduce screen time to no more than an hour a day. Instead, look for interactive activities and games that encourage your child to talk and interact with you or other family members.
- Reduce non-interactive playtime. Focus more on toys and activities that involve verbal interactions such as talking and singing.
Most importantly, be patient.
Kids don’t develop overnight. For a child with speech delays, the process is going to be even longer.
Don’t worry, they’ll eventually get there.