After my baby passed his second birthday, I felt like coping with him is getting easier, and the communication is becoming much more two-way now.
Before this, he was always receiving, building up receptive vocabularies, storing whatever he sees and hears in his head. And then he started to react to everything around him. Like screaming for things he doesn’t like, or running towards me when he sees me coming, or throwing his toys when he’s angry, besides his own mispronunciation words that he was starting to use. But now he can say a few reasonable short sentences, he can shake head and nod, point to things he wants, grab what he needs ( if they are close), spend hours playing with his cars alone, and after all that was great!
So how do I get my toddler to talk.
- First of all Talking
By talking to him, letting him hear the words. Explaining everything for him, trying to tell him the names of everything we pass through. Like “look at this horse” or “how beautiful this flower is” Sometimes I try to open what it looks like a one-sided conversation, when it seems that my toddler doesn’t have the slightest interest in. I really don’t know when is the best time to talk to him. Since he sees himself the controller now. He does what he wants when he wants
But I keep talking to him. While we’re buying from the grocery, I enjoy showing him fruits and vegetables, and tell him their names. While we’re having our daily walk, we talk mostly about cars (because he adores cars, you know)
- Secondly, Reading
I read for him, so many stories. Not just bedtime stories, but also stories I find interesting, with beautiful clear pictures. I also tell him stories of my own. I enjoy this part. He loves to hear the same story over and over again. Perhaps because he inherently recognize the value of repetition as a way of learning, or because he loves to be aware of what I’m reading, and interact with it ( to feel in charge, you know)
- Third, Singing
I sing for him. I loved singing for him since he was a baby. A special song for bathtime, another for going out, and third for sleeping and one for eating. By the time, when I just start singing, he knows what should we do at once, and when he sings with me, it really melts my heart.
I felt that he likes music, and enjoys it, so we brought him (guitar, clarinet, and flute) children musical toys.
and then after a while a real harmonica! He liked them so much, he was playing with them a lot, when he’s not playing with his cars. I wanted him to enter the musical world. ( I always wished I could learn to play an instrument, but I didn’t have the chance!)
- Label stuff.
Labeling things is the best thing to get my toddler knows names. The more his eyes fall on the written words, the more he will be able to recognize them, and by the time he will memorize them easier.
For example, the table, chair, closet, drawer, etc. in his room, in the kitchen, and also in his bathroom.
- Lend an ear.
My boy keeps talking to his cars, and I love that he can use both languages (English & Arabic), but mostly English. And I keep correcting his mispronunciations in a natural, friendly, nonjudgmental way, using an animated, supportive, conversational tone of voice, with interest. Like when he says “my cars is sleeping now” so I repeat “oh really, your cars are sleeping!” I try to show him so much interest in what he likes and to treat his toys very carefully. And when he wants to talk he always finds me listening.
- Pay attention to what he’s saying.
When my child speaks in front of others, they all think that he’s speaking gibberish. But it looks to me so understandable (most of the time) through listening carefully, making eye contact, and trying to read his body language. That makes me act as interpreter in my toddler’s verbal exchanges with others.
Paying him attention made him enjoy talking to me, telling me what he’s thinking, what his cars are doing, and by talking and talking he’s getting better.
- Asking questions
I keep asking him questions and let him answer, even when he’s incapable of supplying answers. I let him decide and choose to become independent. And that is one of the best ways to spur his language development.
I Answer him when he asks why.. Trying to explain everything for him, encourage him to talk, never rubbish his opinion. And I keep him next to me, engaged with me as much as I can*.
I keep repeating every word, and trying to make them simple, distinct and audible, so that he can catch on to meanings and language mechanism, and eventually, to parrot back speech. like ” look at this flower” then ” the flower is beautiful” and ” this flower is pink” etc. and when he tries to say it in a comprehensible way, I make sure to be a cheerleader, and reinforce him positively with praise.
*When I had my baby I was still studying at university, so I was leaving him at my parent’s (or parent’s in law) house, and when I take him and go back home, he was always next to me, while studying, cleaning, cooking, watching TV. I wanted to spend the rest of my day with him, keep talking to him. And he was always looking at me, as he’s understanding what I’m saying! Oh, I’m so much in love with this boy