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The time has come. Your tiny terror’s babble should now be morphing into words, and you’re wondering how to help them along. Well, much like the entire parenting process, it’s long and immensely rewarding.
Simple Tips and Activities to Help Your Toddler Talk
First things first, remember your toddler is different and has their own approach to everything. You need to be supportive and tailor every step to their development. If they take a little longer, don’t stress. They’ll get there in their time.
Here’s how to teach a toddler to talk and have fun along the way:
The best way to encourage your toddler is to become their friend. Though there are many ways to get your toddler to talk, it must be noted that none will work if they’re not interested. Engage in their playtime and talk to them on a daily basis as you interact with them. This involves everything from bathing to feeding. You are their gateway to the world of speech, and if you want them to step through, you better be one entertaining gatekeeper – this goes for mommies and daddies!
- Avoid Baby Talk
Your talk is key to the toddler’s vocabulary development. Minimise the baby talk as it impedes their verbal growth. You need to simplify your speech around them and stress on short sentences with words that keep syllables to a minimum. For instance, ‘Here is the cat. He is black. He is soft.” They will realize this is how they should be talking and this is how the world around them communicates.
Repetition is the cornerstone of learning. Ask any of those nerds from high school. Repeat words to your kiddie constantly and ensure they can associate with words visually. This should help them initially. During breakfast, you could have them perched on the counter next to you and show them things while repeating the name. Perhaps, it is play time, and you’re passing them the ball. You can say, ‘This is a ball. Yes, this is your ball.”
They can also watch sounds so stress on the right sounds. Put on shows that build on this particular skill. Your child can learn the word through visual association. In addition, their enunciation will improve based on watching how you say the word. Remember, you’re the gatekeeper so correct their pronunciation.
Give your toddler the chance to talk every opportunity you have. Their incessant babble must now become incessant chatter with intelligible words. Hand them to every adult that’s willing to talk (make sure the adult is vetted!) and let the conversation flow. Make sure you expose them to new situations.
Activities are a good place to expand their horizons. They get to see a lot more and these conversation opportunities suddenly quadruple. Your toddler now has access to a rich world and will develop a rich vocabulary. You could take them to the municipal park, lie on the grass together and talk about all the sounds and sights you are experiencing together. Take a lovely relaxing day for mommy and baby!
- Descriptive Dialogue
Be descriptive with things when you are talking to your toddler. As mentioned in the above examples, you need to expand on what a certain object is. ‘The cat is black. This apple is yummy. That tree is big.’ You can even expand this approach to other senses beyond the visual. After all, the quicker they realize the world is more than what they see and put in their mouth (face it, that’s what every toddler’s world is confined to!), the quicker they will progress mentally.
- Avoid Distractions
Of all the ways to help your toddler to talk, cutting out distractions is probably the most important. You need to minimize them since they cannot tune out the rest of the world as adults can. What do I mean? The TV, that construction noise outside the window, the dog and cat fighting in the next room – turn off all background noise. It will move things along quicker and make the learning more effectively.
Play games to make things fun and ensure they associate things better. If it works well with adult learning then it should work 10 times better on your little one, right? Definitely! Try Simon says. Give simple commands like ‘Simon says touch your nose.’ You need to demonstrate this yourself. Tap your nose and even repeat the word to demonstrate the body part linked to it. Make sure you’re having fun too, or they’ll ignore you faster than the family cat would.
- Read books
This may seem counter-productive, but the sound of your voice will stimulate your child irrespective of their age. They will also be riveted by the storytelling and the visuals in the book. Try and follow along with your finger pointed at the words in the book, so they start to assimilate reading as an added benefit.
Talk or sing nursery rhymes together for added articulation. This is a fun way on how to teach a toddler to talk. You may be the worst singer in the world but your toddler doesn’t know that, nor will they care. Mommy or daddy is having fun singing about the itsy bitsy spider, and they want to join in. There’s a reason why so many of the nursery rhymes are interactive and involve a lot of actions and demonstrations. It develops your relationship with your toddler, their personality, their motor skills and their vocabulary through association.
Just like adults, toddlers thrive on encouragement. It may seem silly to applaud even simple attempts to talk. However, it can give your toddler the confidence they need to venture out and expand their vocabulary.
Your little one will get there eventually, and you should remember to enjoy the ride. After all, it’s only a matter of time before they leap from gurgling to non-stop chatter. Don’t stress if the above methods do not work right away. This is a little person you are working with, not a pre-programmed toy that executes things as per the manual. There will be glitches and little idiosyncrasies that make your baby special, cherish them since they will become things of nostalgia. Change your approach to each of them, and you will both get past ‘mama’ to so much more.