7 Quick Tips to encourage communication with your toddler or young child
Communication is vital to a child’s language development. 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. Here are some quick tips to encourage communication with your child.
1. Set aside time every day
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.
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. This way they have your whole attention and you have theirs.
4. Follow your child’s lead
All children learn better when they are having fun. 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
Children 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.
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 will help encourage your toddler or young child to communicate with you.
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