Teaching Your Toddler How to Talk Effectively

Teaching Your Toddler How to Talk Effectively

Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center Parent Tip of the Week

By Carol Theil, CCC-SLP, 
Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center

Children learn how to talk by imitating others. They mimic what they hear, so it’s important for you to practice speaking with your child every day. Some words to focus on include nouns, verbs, adjectives and prepositions, which can be applied to daily activities. For example, if you are blowing bubbles with your child, you can emphasize: 

Nouns: bubble/bubbles, bottle, lid, where the bubbles float to or what they  land on (toes, head, air, etc.)

Actions/verbs: blow, pop, all gone, look, go, open

Descriptors/adjectives: big, tiny, sticky, wet, yucky, more

Prepositions: on, up, down, in

You also can include exclamations such as “wow,” “oooo,” and “uh-oh.”

Think about it this way: What does your child need and want to talk about? In other words, what does your child need to request and what excites your child that her or she would want to share? Those are the reasons we communicate!

Incorporating these words in your child’s daily activity will allow him or her to continually hear the words that they need to use in any activity to effectively communicate.

As your child gets older and prepares for preschool and kindergarten, colors, letters, numbers and shapes are used to further express what he or she is trying to say. However, when your toddler is initially learning how to communicate, these adjectives are NOT going to get your child what he or she wants or allow them to express their interests. Focus on the nouns, verbs, prepositions and descriptors first. Make sure your child is using words and phrases that help him or her express themselves in brief conversations. Once your child is verbal and of preschool age, you can start to introduce colors, letters, numbers and shapes in your daily conversation.

For example:

Colors: Let’s find your blue socks.

Numbers: We need two more forks on the table.

Letters: Look, your name starts with an A!

Objects: Let’s find a triangle block for this hole. 

Now get down on the floor with your toddler, model the language they need on a daily basis, and have fun!

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