There are so many fun, simple activities to incorporate into your day to engage and encourage communication skills with your toddler.
Many of these strategies are not only helpful for children struggling with language development but how you should be interacting and engaging with all children! It is hard to know where to begin when helping your toddler with language. I will provide two strategies to start with at home.
One essential tool that is often overlooked is Wait Time. Wait time is so critical…and hard to do! When you ask a child a direct question, look at them, and wait for them to respond. When you feel the urge to fill the quiet, wait longer, as long as 14 seconds. This might feel like FOREVER. But we want to ensure the toddler has time to process the question and determine how to respond.
Saying more may only confuse them. Ask a question, wait, then repeat the question, or give some clues for the right answer. (ex. “What animal is that?” or “What does the cow say?”)
Choosing between 2 choices gives the child control, but also creates an opportunity to request. Many young children are unable to do many things for themselves or have many choices to make. This helps eliminate some frustrations and reduce on meltdowns. Hold up the 2 items and allow them to reach, point, or verbally choose (depending on their current ability.) Provide a model for them and encourage them to repeat the name for the item they choose.
If they seem confused, show them each item while repeating its name. You can use this during playtime with toys or snack time with foods. Remember, once they have attempted to request of the options, provide them with that choice. Don't hold back and make them request again, as this can cause frustration. (ex. “Do you want juice or milk?” or “Should we play with the car or the doll?”)
Do you have any favorite techniques to elicit language development? Let us know what works well for you at home by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Knighton, MS, CCC-SLP