The lives of new parents are extremely eventful and exciting to say the least. You spend every day awaiting new surprises, milestones and amusing little moments involving your little one. When my husband and I had our little boy a few years ago, he’d constantly walk around with a Handy-cam in hand. We wanted to have a solid memory of every beautiful moment spent with our angel. From his first steps to his first words, everything was captured by the camera’s lens and forever etched in our hearts. My husband and I’d compete for hours trying to get our toddler to say “mamma” or “dada” and would hurl shouts of joy each time he did! As he grew up, his grasp on language grew stronger, but it was still a challenge to expand his understanding and knowledge of words and phrases. If you’re also finding trouble knowing how to encourage toddler to talk, here are seven things that might help you, just as they helped us:
7 Ways to Encourage Toddler to Talk
Try to talk as much to your child about various things, such as his day at playschool, his favorite teacher, his best friend, etc. Doing this will encourage him to express his views, even if he has problems stringing sentences together. It will give him a lot of practice to develop his basic conversational skills while also help strengthening the bond you share with him. Till today, my husband and I encourage our son to talk about the things that interest him while also telling him about things that concern us. Make sure the conversation is two-way, so your child gets enough opportunity to learn from you as well as practice.
2. Read Books Aloud
I believe books have helped polish my child’s conversational skills the most. Every night before putting my toddler to bed, I used to read him out a new story comprising of different themes and usage of words. This gave him an immense amount of exposure to the world of language while also sparking up his imagination. Buy a lot of books surrounding subjects that interest and intrigue your little one, and encourage him to both listen and read the stories.
3. Provide a Conducive Learning Atmosphere
Learning isn’t merely confined to what your child gets taught in school. In fact, the maximum amount of learning happens at home because that’s where your kid spends the maximum amount of time. Make sure you take your child to explore various places such as a park, a supermarket, a mall, a library, etc. Talk to him about the things that surround him. In casual conversations later, ask your child about the things he saw at the park or the supermarket. This is a great way to fuel your child’s inquisitive nature that will further aid his learning process and memory.
4. Limit Exposure to Gadgets
You may think that your toddler can learn a lot about language by watching movies and cartoons on the TV or iPad. The truth, however, is that these mediums are mainly for entertainment and aren’t very interactive. Being glued to gadgets may expose your child to new ideas and concepts, but it can also make him susceptible to health concerns like poor eyesight and obesity, without adding onto his conversational skills. Think of more interactive play ideas to keep your child entertained. I remember my son and I used to have long conversations with each other on his toy phones. He used to love it and wouldn’t let go of the phone for hours!
5. Correct Him
A lot of times even if your child makes a mistake during a conversation, you probably ignore it thinking, “He’s just a child, he’ll learn along the way.” What you must remember is that your toddler won’t learn the difference between right and wrong unless you guide him. Tenderly make him understand his mistake and tell him what it should be instead. For example, if your toddler says “oat” instead of “boat,” repeatedly use the correct pronunciation of the word during your conversation until he gets it right.
6. Be Patient
If there’s anything that motherhood has taught me, it is that nobody’s parenting journey is the same; nor is the growth chart of their kids. You can’t expect your little one to start walking or talking around the same time that your neighbor’s child did, or for that matter, even when your first child did. You must be patient with your child’s speed and ability to grasp the nitty-gritties of a language. In case your toddler is finding it hard to pick up verbal skills despite all your attempts, it would be a good idea to get some professional assistance.
7. Avoid Baby Talk
Whenever I’d see my toddler’s cute little face, I’d automatically find myself cooing and babbling to him. That was until I read about how baby talking could hinder his language learning capabilities, and the reasons were all justified. By baby talking, you give your child the impression that such is the right usage of language. Without you realizing, those words get ingrained in his vocabulary and stay with him for a very long time. As much as possible, try to keep your communication crisp and clear.
These tips will surely help your toddler transform from being a quiet observer to an inquisitive chatterer very soon. All you need to do is bring about the perfect balance between being a great listener and an informative talker yourself!
Aradhana is from India. She is a veteran writer on topics concerning parenting, child nutrition, wellness, health and lifestyle. As a regular contributor to popular sites like Huffington Post, Natural news, Elephant journal, Thehealthsite, Naturally Savvy, Curejoy and MomJunction.com, Aradhana writes to inspire and motivate people to adopt healthy habits and live a stress-free lifestyle.