9 ways to encourage your toddler to speak

As children grow older, language becomes a critical means of communication. If a toddler has difficulties communicating using words, they may resort to other behaviours, such as aggression, to express their frustration. It is therefore important that you foster language development in your child by encouraging it as much as possible, and by seeking support from a Speech Pathologist if your concerns persist. Some general strategies to keep in mind include:

  • Monitoring the presence of ear infections, as these can have a significant impact on language development. It is also strongly recommended to get your child’s hearing tested to eliminate this as a factor contributing to their difficulties.
  • When your child makes attempts to use language, always respond. If their pronunciation is incorrect, repeat what they said with correct pronunciation (e.g. “I see’d the shark”, “yes you saw a shark”). Avoid seeming overly critical of your child’s speech, as this will discourage their efforts.
  • Frequently using new words in front of your child and asking them questions.
  • When needed, helping ‘translate’ for your child during their interactions with others.
  • Encouraging your child to talk about things in the past and in the future.
  • Encouraging the use of non-verbal communication strategies, such as gestures and eye contact.
  • Pretending to be ‘forgetful’ (e.g. put their shoes on without their socks to prompt them to ‘remind’ you).
  • Creating opportunities for communication, such as putting a desired object just out of reach or by giving them some pieces of a puzzle (to encourage them to make requests).
  • Continuing to repeat and build on what your child says, to read to them, to engage in songs and social games and to minimise screen time.

As always, if you have any concerns or would like more specific advice, get in touch with us!

Olivia Smith is an endorsed Educational and Developmental Psychologist and is a strong believer in the importance of working collaboratively with families and other professionals to ensure a holistic approach to child wellbeing. She is passionate about advocating for and working with children presenting with anxiety and/or neurodiversity (e.g. ASD, ADHD and specific learning disorders) and their families. Olivia strives to make therapy sessions engaging, effective and applicable to everyday life, and views the relationship between child and therapist as key to success. She is also a certified SOS-feeding therapist.

Have you seen our founder Amanda Abel’s new online school for parents? It’s called The Psychology Room and her first course has been lauched – The Good Night Toolbox – with tools for parents to help their child get to sleep at night. Check it out here!

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