Developing Toddler Speech

Ways to keep your child talking

1. Keep it short and simple

This makes it easier for your child to understand and provides them with something they can copy.

2. Modelling

Modelling language gives your child an opportunity to hear language and then practice it. Use simple sentences as short as your child’s or only slightly longer. If it’s too hard, your child is unlikely to copy and use it.

3. Expand and add on

Add words onto what your child says. This allows the child to learn new words and hear how words are put together, as well as acknowledging what they have said in a positive way. Your child does not have to repeat the longer sentence, but may try it later.

4. Give choices

When asking your child questions, give your child a choice of responses. In doing so you increase your child’s chance of success AND model language at the same time.

5. Remember: Children develop talking skills at different rates

  • Respond positively to any attempts the child makes. It's OK to make mistakes, it's part of learning. If praised, the child is more likely to try again.
  • Use gentle question probes, such as I wonder as compared to drill-type questions during activities. For example, while looking at a book, you may say, Wow. Look at these kids having fun. I wonder what they're looking for This naturally elicits language and conversations.
  • Repeat yourself. Children need to hear the same words and phrases used over and over again before they will use them.
  • Talk to your child, read to your child, play with your child! Listen to your child (don t finish your child's sentences) and respond to them.
  • Use everyday situations to reinforce your child’s speech and language by talking your way through the day. For example, name foods at the grocery store, explain what you’re doing as you cook a meal or clean a room, point out objects around the house, and as you drive, point out sounds you hear.

6. Consult a Speech Pathologist if you have any concerns regarding your child’s communication by either:

  • Contacting your local Community Health Centre (most have, or know of Paediatric Speech Pathology Services)
  • Search online for “Speech Pathologist – Paediatric” in your area.

For more information see Physical Development or Toddler.

This information had kindly been provided by Gillian Fong, Speech Pathologist, April 2007.

16/09/21 - min Read

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