Reliable Approach to Teach Your Toddler to Talk
As a parent of a toddler or infant, you want to help your child learn how to talk and understand. One method that is recommended by pediatricians and speech pathologists alike is to talk to your child about the various things that you are doing during the day, also known as narrating your day. By doing this, parents can help build predictable patterns in their day increasing the chance for the child to learn specific vocabulary, and social expectations. During our regular daily routines, we can capitalize on repeated exposure of a task through daily life to build language.
While your child may not reciprocate in conversation, they can respond by pointing, gesturing or even just listening and paying attention to your narration. Try sitting facing your child, at eye level, so that they can see your face. Here of some examples of how you can carry this out.
Focus on body parts while you help your child wash. Say “Now we are going to wash your ___?” (nose, eyes, hair, feet, etc). Depending on how the child responds, you may want to help them reach to the body part that you’ve mentioned. This helps them make a connection between the word and the body part. Smile widely and use a sing-song voice to keep your child engaged. Don’t be afraid to be playful and silly! If you are making bubbles in the tub, say “pop”. Practice saying “pop” each time you pop a bubble. Since the “p” sound in “pop” is made by pressing the lips together, exaggerate this motion for your child to see and imitate.
Getting dressed gives parents a chance to talk about what the child will wear that day, what the weather is like, and practice sequencing the day’s events. Try saying: “It’s time to go outside and play! Let’s get dressed now.” “Here are your pants. Let’s put your pants on.“ Lots of repetition of the key words you are trying to emphasize helps the child make a connection between the word and its meaning. “Here is your hat. Let’s put your hat on your head.” Here you are not only teaching the desired word (hat) but you are also teaching prepositions (on) and body parts (head). “Here is your swimming suit. We put this on when we are going to get wet!” In this example, you are teaching new vocabulary (swimming suit) and object function.
To take it even further use choices. Children love choices because it makes them feel motivated to have control over a situation. This will help to create a scenario where they are more motivated to use words. Here are some examples: ”Do you want to put on your pants or your shirt first?” “It’s so sunny outside today. Do you want to wear your blue hat or your orange hat?” “First we are going to grandma’s house. Then we will go swimming. Do you want to wear your red swimming suit or your yellow swimming suit?”
Eating a snack is a great time to focus on getting your child to imitate words. Instead of putting all of the food or the drink out in front of your child, hold it and give it to them piece by piece, in tiny morsels. This is so that they have to request “more” or “drink” and even tell you when they are “all done”. Or you can break the food up into pieces. Then you ask, “Do you want the big _____ or the small ____ (food item)?”
Going on a Walk
A walk is a great time to work on interesting and new vocabulary. When you see something interesting, point your finger and say the name of the what you are pointing to. You would say “Look, airplane!”. Get down to the child’s eye level, point to the sky so that they can see your gesture (pointing) clearly and say “Oooh! Airplane!”.
Cleaning up is one of my favorite activities to work on increasing your child’s language skills. You can work on choices, labeling, and single-step directions. Choices: “Should we put away the red crayon away or the blue crayon?” Labeling: Say the name of each item as you and your child put it in the basket. Say “_____ away!” (car, block, doll, etc.) Single-step directions: Say “Put the ____ in the box”. This will also teach simple prepositional words such as in, on, under and off.
Do you want to learn more about how to teach early communication in toddlers? You can contact me here for a consultation and more information!