How to encourage your toddler to talk
Having a hard time encouraging your toddler to talk? Communication is vital to a child’s language development and parents often ask themselves questions like “How do I get my toddler to talk” or, “Why isn’t my child talking yet?”
Talking and conversing with your toddler on a daily basis will build up their vocabulary and give them the confidence to start speaking on their own. It isn’t going to happen overnight, but with consistency, your little one should improve their talking skills over time.
Toddler Speech and Language Milestones
Before we get to our tips on how to teach your toddler to talk, it is important to know about your toddlers speech and language milestones. All children are different, and their language skills will develop at different times, however there are some general milestones to note.
The period from 12 to 24 months of age is generally about words and connecting specific words to objects and people as well as actions and concepts. Children begin to understand words and sentences.
The period from 24 to 36 months of age is characterized by vocabulary growth and language refinement.
You can read more in our full post: Speech and Language Development Milestones for kids.
7 Quick tips to teach your toddler to talk
Here are some quick tips to improve communication with your child and how to encourage and teach your toddler to talk.
1. Set aside time every day to talk to your toddler
One of the easiest ways to teach your toddler to talk is to talk to them often. Life can get busy. Between work, school or pre-school drop offs, running errands, preparing meals etc the days can fly by.
It is important to set aside time every day to spend time with your child and communicate. Whether you have a baby, toddler or a school child, time together without distractions is important in order to encourage their language development.
2. Turn off background noises
Background noises such as TV and music are only a distraction when you are trying to communicate with your child. If children are distracted, especially toddlers, they are more likely to walk away or stop concentrating on what you are saying. Turn off the devices and make sure the environment is calm and quiet while you talk.
3. Get down to your child’s level
Children are able to pay more attention to what you are saying when you are down at their eye level and able to communicate directly to them.
Rather than yell from across the room or from a standing position, bend down and get closer to your child when you speak with them so they can see your face and lips clearly. This way they have your whole attention and you have theirs. This is a great way to encourage your toddler to talk.
4. Follow your child’s lead
All children learn better when they are having fun, especially toddlers. Follow their lead, let them show you what they enjoy doing, and then join them. Get involved in the activities they like to do and games they like to play.
If children are happy they are more likely to communicate with you. Read further about following your child’s lead using the Montessori Method.
5. Describe everything
Talking about what you or your child are doing helps them to learn new words and vocabulary. With young babies and toddlers, communication can seem one sided like this initially. However, once your child is comfortable enough, it will encourage them to eventually talk back to you. It will also give your child a broader range of words and phrases to use.
6. Comment then Question
One thing I find that encourages a child’s communication is to first comment on what they are doing and then ask a question. Describe what you see them doing and then ask a question about it.
Eg. “This puzzle has lots of different pieces. This piece looks like part of the sky, and this one looks like it could be part of the flowers. What do you think this one looks like?” or “You are working really hard on this drawing. I see you have used many different colours and shapes, can you tell me about it?” If you don’t get an answer, keep talking and describing.
7. Follow non-verbal cues
Toddlers don’t just use words to communicate, there are also non-verbal cues you can pick up on. They may nod or shake their head. Their eyes may widen in excitement. They may moan or make noises when they are frustrated.
Picking up on these cues can initially be difficult, but if you take notice you will soon get used to it and start to understand what each cue means. Once you understand, you can start to comment and describe what you think they are feeling, and encourage your child to communicate with you.
Encourage your toddler to talk
Remember that all children develop their communication skills differently. Some children start to talk earlier and some later. Good communication is an important parenting skill and these tips should help encourage your child to communicate with you and eventually help teach your toddler to talk.
For further reading check out these posts:
- Speech and Language Milestones
- Late Talkers
- Speech and Language Disorders Explained
- Speech and Language Definitions
Looking for resources to help your child’s language development in a second language? Check out our website and subscribe!