Toddler speak is a unique. When children are learning language his or her parent is sometimes the interpreter. Toddler’s learn to be good at charades, in addition to language, to communicate their wants and needs. There are two things to focus on when children are developing language, word recognition and word pronunciation. This focus will depend on the child’s age and the situation.
It is not cute to say words wrong. While children are developing speech, some words and sounds can be very challenging. It it perfectly fine for children to say words incorrectly, but the parent should repeat the word back with proper pronunciation. If mom asks, “Do you want your bwankee” the child is not hearing the adult blend the ‘b’ and ‘l’ sound correctly. Also, he is not learning that it is important to say words properly.
You can’t be your child’s interpreter forever. A child needs practice communicating wants and needs. When a parent understands those needs without proper speech, the adult should require the child to communicate more clearly. When a toddler points for a cup and grunts, ‘uh uh’, the parent can require better communication. If dad says, ‘do you want some milk?’ he is allowing the child to use grunts instead of words. If the child is calm, it is a great time to practice language acquisition. When a toddler communicates that he or she wants a drink, simply asking the child to, ‘use words please’ might be enough for the child to practice words he or she knows. If the child does not have the word he or she needs to communicate, than the parent should say the word, and then require the child to repeat it, before the child receives the requested item.
So what happens when the child throws a tantrum in the midst of this language practice, do you award the item requested and try again later? NO! Deal with the tantrum first, as with any other type of misbehavior. When the child calms down. Start again with the language practice. If the tantrum is rewarded with the requested item, the child will not learn the importance of language practice! Children will get better with focused practice, and communication will improve.
When does language practice end? I am not sure. My oldest son is six and his language pronunciation is very good. However, we are still working with him regularly to improve dictation and volume. For example, when ordering at a restaurant his volume drops significantly because his confidence speaking to adults is not high. If we practice a few times before ordering, he will do a better job when he speaks to the waiter or waitress. Keep practicing, and make practice playful, and try your best not to embarrass a child who is practicing their speech.
When a toddler or preschool student is struggling with language outside intervention is sometimes needed. Speech professionals can teach your child to improve communication, pronunciation and volume. Talk to a teacher, or professional if you are concerned about a child’s speech, and continue to work with children at home at improving their communication skills.
The article reflects the author’s opinion, and is not the opinion of a speech professional. Please consider meeting with a professional if your child is not reaching speech development milestones. You can read more information on speech milestones here:
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