Are there simple strategies you can use to encourage your toddler to talk? And is it even worth trying, given that toddlers develop their speech and language skills at their own pace? The short answer is yes!
We now know that a child’s environment influences their language and speech development and this has an impact on their later social and academic outcomes.
For example, several studies have found that children’s exposure to conversation has an impact on their language skills.
Other studies have found that the language environment to which children are exposed has an impact on their later language skills and on their brain development.
In a very recent study, researchers found that infants who were consistently exposed to at least one book a day had better language outcomes than those who were not.
Giving your child a head start on communication skills is also an easy way to prevent problem behavior.
Many studies have found that problem behavior is often related to children’s frustration when they cannot understand what is expected of them or when they cannot express what they want.
The good news is that it is possible to encourage your toddler to talk. Here are ten things you can do to help them develop their speech and language skills.
10 things to encourage your toddler to talk
1) Engage in conversations with your baby. Research suggests that ‘conversational duets’, where parents talk WITH their babies rather than AT them, are great for speech and language development. They are an easy way to encourage your toddler to talk.
2) Talk about everyday things as often as possible. Talk to them when you’re feeding them, changing their nappy, dressing them and so on. Science has shown that the more your child hears spoken language, the easier it is for them to develop their language skills.
3) Avoid complicated sentences and use only those that they can easily understand. Remember that toddlers find it easier to understand and respond to simple one- or two-sentence questions such as “more milk?” than to more complex questions.
4) Make it easy for your child to understand instructions. For example, if they’re having trouble following you, repeat the question and point to what you’re talking about.
5) Help your child build their vocabulary by giving names to what they are pointing at. For example, if they are pointing at a banana, you might say something like, “Ah, you want a banana, here’s your banana”.
6) Developing your baby’s language skills is about giving them confidence in their ability to understand and respond to simple questions. Preferring simple “yes” or “no” questions is an easy way to encourage your toddler to talk.
7) Name everything your child points to. If they point to something, name it. If you’re reading a book with pictures, name the picture. When you are dressing your child, point to different parts of the body and name them.
8) All the available studies say that reading to your baby regularly is good for them. It strengthens the parent-child bond, improves your child’s language skills and has a positive impact on their later social, behavioral and academic outcomes.
9) Interacting with other children is an easy way for your child to develop language, speech and communication skills. Organize play dates if you can, or enrol them in a nursery, even on a part-time basis.
Final words on encouraging your toddler to talk
When it comes to encouraging your toddler to talk, the simpler the better. Remember that at this age it is more important to encourage your child to build their communication skills and to take part in communication – rather than to produce complex and elaborate sentences.
The easier you make it for them to communicate, the more confident they will be in their abilities and the easier it will be for them to discover and use new words.
Also remember that the more you praise your child’s language efforts, the more likely they are to repeat those words. Make sure you repeat the word they have got right to let them know what they are being praised for.
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