Having to talk to toddlers is just as crucial as talking to baby is. All this while you were having a one sided conversation with your baby. Now when your toddler enters his second birthday he might be able to talk to you. Some toddlers start talking early whereas some toddlers take it easy! An average 2 year old might have a vocabulary that consists somewhere between 200-500 words. On the other hand a few might be able to make sentences using the words they know or at least might be trying to make sentences. This varies from child to child. Around the third year verbal ability improves noticeably. Kids who are lagging in speaking might start picking up and talk like their peers.
Every parent (like me) obviously wants their toddler to start making proper sentences so that he or she can express himself or herself. Expressing themselves is crucial at this age so they can convey their needs, hunger, pain or happiness etc. So what do we need to to? The best way you can get toddlers to talk is by talking to toddlers. Yes it is as simple as that!
Most parents do a wonderful job of boosting their toddler’s language skills. You can see this progress in the way a toddler communicates with family and a few other caregivers. Toddler’s might still be shy about communicating with strangers or may not speak at all in front of strangers. This is a natural behaviour for most of the toddlers.
You can use below steps to talk to toddlers in order to boost their conversation skills, language development and improving their vocabulary. These are simple and something you can do when you spend time with your child and may not need too many extra efforts. Just your time and presence is what it needs!
15 Best and Amazing Ideas When Talking to Toddlers
Ask a lot of Questions
Have you noticed once your toddler can start speaking they have a lot of question about everything. This amazing way is how they learn about everything. They observe, they question and they LEARN. Yes! So the simplest way to get your toddler talking is by asking questions. Now your toddler has moved past the age where you need to ask only YES or NO answerable questions. Step by step increase the complexity of your question.
A few examples of questions you can easily ask:
- Where is your red ball? Can you show me where it is ?
- What color is your hair?
- Where do you keep your plate?
- Are you hungry? What would you like to eat?
- What is that dog doing?
Talk to toddlers but “No more baby talk”
All this while right from when your baby was born you would talk to the baby in a high pitched and a voice with intonation. A certain words are filled with love but do not really make sense. But now it is time to reduce the baby talk. Your toddler is growing and with that is his or her observation skills. They need to learn the way adults and grown ups communicate with each other. They have to learn how to speak the language. Toddlers need to learn the sounds now. So the first people they will learn from parents.
You need to still speak with a little intonation, dips and pitches in your sentences to make it interesting to talk to toddlers.
Be Clear and specific
When you and toddler are together spending time be specific specific about anything you are talking. Give them a clear and specific information. When you point at something, say clearly what you are pointing at instead of just the direction. For example, suppose you are in a garden instead of saying “Look there!” you can say “Look there! Can you see a beautiful yellow butterfly on the red flower.”
Books, Books and Some more Books
Reading is the best and amazing way to improve language development. Babies and Toddlers love reading books. Get some nice picture books. Read it to them daily. At this age you might want to stick to a book with a lot of big images and little writing. When reading make it interesting otherwise your toddler might lose interest in reading as an activity. Reading teaches toddlers a lot about language. Soon you will see your toddler telling you his own stories.
Play word games
When I said word game your first thought might have been Scrabbles right!? You toddler is too young for Scrabbles but you can make your own word game with your child. Take a book with a lot of pictures , now ask him to point at something you ask him about. For example, ask your toddler to find yellow school bus or a girl wearing a blue dress. You can also point and ask him to tell you what it is that you have pointed. Help your toddler when he or she is in doubt or is wrong. Do not criticize. Offer assistance.
Once in a while, ask your toddler to point at objects and you describe the object. Such games can give you the opportunity to talk to toddlers and also give your toddler plenty of opportunity to speak.
Toddlers might not speak grammatically correct sentences yet
As your toddler grows and hears the language around him, slowly and gradually he will start picking up on the grammar. Until then you need not correct him for every grammatical mistake he makes. He might reduce speaking because of so many corrections. But make sure you do speak grammatically correct language in front of your toddler.
Let’s start with ABC’s
Alphabets are building block of any language. To learn any language they need to know the alphabets. While speaking your toddler may not yet know that he is using alphabets to make words and sentences. Read the alphabets from the picture books. Make the sound. Get down to your toddlers level, help them see your mouth when you make the sound. This getting down and letting them see how you make a sound is very interesting to toddlers. Widely used in schools too. (I learn this from my son’s teacher.) Let your toddler take the lead. Do not push more than he or she is interested.
Get on the floor, Play and Talk to your toddler
Getting on the floor and playing is one of the best opportunities for parents and caregivers to talk to toddlers and to get the toddler talking too. While playing toddlers have a lot to say, but they may not yet be able to express themselves completely. Take a guess about what they want to say and they will be the happiest. Playing with your toddler gives the toddler a sense of togetherness with you.
Put words into your toddler’s mouth
Add something to what your toddler says and soon your toddler will start adding words of his own. When your toddlers says something small try adding some additional information. When he says “See Dog!!” you can say “That is a dog. It’s a big brown dog. See how it is wagging its tail. Doggy wants to play with you!”
Have a conversation and Continue the conversation
It is never too soon to have a conversation with your baby. Right from the beginning few months of his or her life you can start having a conversation with your baby. Initially it will be a one sided conversation, but as your baby grows and becomes a toddler he will start conversing with you. It may even be one or two words but it talking. At times you may need to answer your own questions just as encouragement. But that feeling when you talk to toddlers and they can hold a conversation with you is amazing!!
You can have a conversation about anything. For example have a conversation about breakfast. Did he or she like it? Would they prefer something else?. Another example can be asking them how their day was at the end of the evening before falling asleep. You will find many opportunities throughout the day to make a conversation with your little one. Grab every single opportunity!! I feel gratitude all the chances of conversation I took to talk to my toddler. Now my little one at two and a half years cannot stop talking !!!
Explore, Explore – Explore at every opportunity you find
The more you expose your toddler to variety and material, the more the vocabulary. Take your child exploring. Explore nature, parks, gardens, museums. Do you feel it is above your toddler’s age? No! toddlers have an exponential growth going on in their brains upto 5 years. They learn by observing, they learn by exploring.
Take your child to the vegetable market. Let him or her see the vegetables, touch it, feel it’s texture. Let them absorb all the colors. In India if you go to a vegetable market, it’s a beautiful, colorful and overwhelming experience. Take them for clothes shopping, take them to picnic at river banks let them feel the water (please supervise and never leave your toddler alone near water bodies), take them hunting for a variety of leaves.
Be descriptive when you talk to toddlers
Toddlers mind is like a blank canvas or a sponge. Ready and awaiting to absorb all the colors and experiences we provide. Describe everything you see. Describe it with beautiful adjectives. Let them feel passionate about everything. Do not bias anything for them. Let them be piqued with interest over everything. This interest and curiosity is the best tool in talking to toddlers.
For example if you are scared of worms (I most certainly am!!!), make sure your toddler is not scared of it. I made my son touch a few worms ( safe ones) so he won’t be afraid of them. Now he keeps looking at all the insects with happiness and curiosity.
Please make sure you do not over do it. Overstimulation can also lead to tiredness or boredom. Take cues from your toddler. If they seem overwhelmed or bored or tired. Stop and continue it later or after a few weeks.
Increase the complication in your speech when talking to toddlers
When you have a baby it is important to keep your talk simple. But now as he or she enters into this awesome toddlerhood, it’s time to add a little bit of complication. Don’t complicate too much at a time. Increase the complexity of your language gradually. This increase in complexity can be a challenge for your toddler to turn up his learning game. Now you can include two or three directions in your speaking. For example, you can say we are going to the park once dad comes home from the office.
Experience is the best teacher. Are you thinking “What experiences can you give a toddler?”. There are so many experiences you can give to your toddler now that he is at this lovely age. Talk to toddlers about experiences and feelings around those experiences. You can ask your toddler to assist you in cooking hence giving the awesome experience of making food. He will be very happy to eat the food he cooked. This works every time.
Experiencing the early morning sun rays on the body. Painting or coloring (Messy play) is another experience toddler’s love. Experience the wind on their face while riding a car or a bike with mom or dad. Experiencing the love of the pet (if you have any) once you come back home after a long time. Feel the rain drops on the face and as they trickle down.
There are unlimited experiences you can provide to your child and also experience with them. These experiences will be a huge help in developing mindfulness as they grow into adults with a busy life.
Play Hunt and Search game
Playing games is the best way to get your toddler’s attention. Say a word or an object name and ask your toddler to search for it around the house. This will not only improve his vocabulary but also boost his memory because he has to search and remember where certain things are kept or hidden. For example, Ask him or her to find “A spoon”. You can add complexity into this by next asking “Can you find a “RED SPOON”.
A few examples of things you can ask for:
- Can you find me 5 things in red color? (Go and search with your toddler around the house for red items)
- Can you find a book on my shelf with a green cover? (Make sure there is only 1 book with green cover otherwise the toddler might be confused)
- Can you find the empty water bottles around the house. You can fill the bottles you find!! ( Help your toddler fill the water into bottles he or she finds.)
Talking to toddler is a simplest and the most interesting stimulation for your toddler’s brain development. Talking is something each one of us can do with our child in any time we find. This does not really need for you to have any special training or materials. Just speak naturally and from your heart and soon your little one will start talking and speaking from his heart too!!!