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How to Talk to your Toddler

Posted by on in Language Development

What you say and how you say it to your toddler can have a big impact on your child’s language skills and overall development. By age 2 your child will know what hundreds of words mean even if he can’t say them out loud yet. Experts suggest that the words you use and the tone of your voice impact your child’s cognitive, emotional and social development. Find out how. 

Boosting language development. 

A study published in Pediatrics found that engaging a toddler in back-and-forth conversation proves to be six times more effective at fostering language development than just talking to her. If you’re out taking a stroll, you can say to her, “This is a flower. Do you want to touch it?” Gradually, your child will learn to say what she’s pointing at or repeat the word.  

As your child grows older you can expect more give and take in such conversations. You can say, “Look at that ball. Is it heavy or light?” or “Look at Snoopy. What colour is he?” Such prompts will expand your child’s vocabulary. 

Increase self-confidence.

You love cheering your child when she manages to stack a few blocks or completes a puzzle. But remember you’re also reducing your child’s confidence every time you scold her, for instance when she makes a mess. Also avoid constantly labeling her. If you always refer to her as shy or troublesome, she will be able to tell from your tone that you’re not saying something positive. And this will negatively impact her self-confidence.    

Influence good behavior. 

When your toddler pulls off his diaper and runs around the house, how do you choose to respond? If you laugh and use a happy tone your child is going to think that you’re happy when he removes his diaper and he should do it again. However, if you don’t want this to become a regular habit then your tone and face should convey that. Positive reinforcement also plays an important role in shaping the desired behaviour. Your child wants your attention and approval. Let him know when he’s doing something right and he’ll be happy to repeat it. 

Teach your child how the world works. 

Your toddler is constantly soaking up information about her environment. So use conversation to teach your child basic concepts of time. When you have to leave the house soon, say, “We’re going out in five minutes. That means quickly so let’s get ready.” Then list for her a sequence of events: “First, we need to put on your jacket. Next, we’ll put on your shoes and then we’ll go into the car.” Use a rushed tone of voice to indicate that the five minutes are running out. 


You can encourage your toddler to talk by following these Dos and Don’ts. 


…give your kid toys that encourage chatting, such as a pretend phone. 

…speak clearly and pause to let your child respond. 


…leave the TV on all day. Research shows that background noise reduces a toddler’s attention span and inhibits interaction. 

…let your child use a pacifier too much. It limits his talking to some extent. 


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Guest Saturday, 17 March 2018