Every child develops at a different pace, and some little ones are just naturally less talkative. Of course, if you’re really concerned, you can always visit a specialist.
Here’s a hint about toddler speech development:
The more you talk directly to your children, the faster their speech skills will develop.
There’s a big difference between talking to a toddler, and talking around a toddler.
Your children may hear speech around them all day long, from television chatter, to songs on the radio, to conversations between adults, but if they’re not engaged, it doesn’t have the same effect.
Talk to your kids, even if they can’t yet reply.
Here are 7 ways to engage with your small children and help them develop their speech skills.
7 Ways to Encourage Toddler Speech Development
1 – Tell stories
At any age, nothing captures the imagination like a good story.
Toddlers don’t need much plot development or complexity to get involved with a story.
Try turning your surroundings into an engaging narrative by imagining the surrounding details to a common situation.
If you spot an elderly lady perched on a park bench feeding the local flock of pigeons, you might create a simple story around her like this.
“Look at that lady on the bench. She looks like she loves birds. Do you think she feeds the birds every day?”
You’ve just involved your toddler in an interesting tale, sparked his or her imagination, and used another effective technique to encourage their language development:
2 – Ask questions
When you talk at your child, he or she doesn’t feel compelled or empowered to respond.
When you talk to your child, they are involved, and that involvement encourages faster and better speech development.
Even if he or she can’t reply yet, ask questions.
Just asking the question gets their brains working, and you might be surprised at some of the answers you get.
You’re not asking your child to solve complex problems. You’re just getting her or him engaged and interested, so ask fun, toddler-level questions that they can easily understand.
Talking with you should be a fun experience, not a confusing one.
3 – Stay positive
Children respond better and talk sooner when their conversations are fun and positive.
Language should be used for more than just scolding and correction. Definitely parent, guide, and correct your kids as needed, but also praise, joke, and enjoy them.
Acknowledging everything your toddler says in a positive way will also help them enjoy talking to you.
When your child points to the sky and proclaims “airplane!” you can positively continue the conversation. Agree with them, ask them questions, and help them describe what they’re seeing.
4 – Describe things
There’s a great, big world out there, and your child is only beginning to discover it.
Help them put words to the things they’re seeing, smelling, feeling, tasting, and experiencing.
It might feel strange walking around with your toddler and describing the details you find mundane, but to them, it’s infinitely interesting.
Pay attention to things that grab his or her attention, and talk about them.
5 – Talk like a grownup
Baby talk is not for toddlers.
Use complete sentences, real words, and correct names for things.
You don’t have to give grammar lessons and diagram sentences in order to teach your child to speak, but if they ask for their din-din instead of their dinner, make sure you’re using the word “dinner” to describe their meal.
Even though your kids might not be able to express themselves yet, they understand much more than you think.
You set the example, and in the real world, people don’t use baby talk. Encourage your toddler to use the real words for things.
6 – Talk with your hands
Have you ever seen people with two different native languages trying to communicate?
They point, gesture, and move a lot.
Non-verbal communication is as much part of language as grammar and pronunciation.
We also understand a certain amount of body language instinctively, so employing physical means of communication in addition to verbal helps your toddler understand exactly what you mean.
They’ll also be more engaged, which is key.
7 – Listen, listen, and listen
If somebody habitually dismissed you, interrupted you, or refused to listen to you, how long would you continue trying to talk to them?
When your child speaks to you, listen.
When you ask them questions, give them time to respond. Children often take longer to answer than adults, so allow a lengthier than usual pause to give them a chance to come up with the words they want to use.
Plus, you’ll be amazed at some of the things your kids tell you.