3 Ways to Encourage Speech in Toddlers

A toddler learns about his/her world through interactions, curiosity and exploration while playing.

A child’s brain develops at astonishing rates and resembles a sponge, absorbing everything. FASCINATING right? 

So first, let’s go over the basics of language development.

A child must master both receptive and expressive language in order to communicate effectively.

Receptive language means to comprehend language that is heard or read.

For example, it is the ability to interpret a question or understand a concept.

*A child will usually develop receptive language skills first.

Expressive language is being able to put thoughts into words and sentences, in a way that makes sense and is grammatically accurate.

It is the ability to communicate what we need, feel or want.

Some toddlers are naturally more talkative while others are shy. Keep in mind that each child has their own personality and developmental timeline. Let’s do our best to support and encourage them.

  1. Get down on the floor and PLAY daily.      A toddler’s job is to play. He/she will learn best through interacting while playing with you. Give those super heros, dolls, cars, balls, and animals voices. Foster imaginative play.  Here are a few examples.
  • Hi BIG yellow truck, can I play with you? Let’s race little red car!
  • Hulk, I need your help! Can you help me rescue Iron Man from the villains?
  • Where did the blue ball go? Oh look! It’s in the green basket. I think he wants us to go find him in there.
  • Barbie is wearing this sparkly pink dress. Do you think she would like the purple or white shoes? Can you help her look for them?
  • Mr. Zebra is sad because he does not have any one to play with. Mr. Lion, would you like to play hide and seek with him?

2. Talk and repeat endlessly.

Chanel your inner parrot mommies! Model conversations, ask questions, and describe scenarios to foster vocabulary, expressive language and social skills.

Children are the world’s greatest imitators. Let’s give them something INCREDIBLE to imitate.

3. Read everyday. 

Reading to our little ones helps them not only see and hear written words, but build imagination and emotional awareness through a story.

Short and simple is key for toddlers. All you need is 10-15 minutes a day. It can be incorporated into a morning or nightly routine.

Provide age appropriate choices while allowing your child the opportunity to choose which books to read.

Young children learn emotional awareness when they are read to while using exaggerated facial expressions and labeling the character’s emotions such as happy, sad, or mad.

Remember, you don’t have to read EVERY single word on the page at this age.

Simply describe the pictures and read a few key words if your child won’t sit for too long.

Keep in mind that as your child grows, their attention span will increase.

Do you have a toddler that prefers to communicate through non verbal gestures such as pointing? 

Learning to produce thoughts into words and phrases is not an easy task. It’s a HUGE cognitive process.

Encourage him/her to use words by prompting questions that require a verbal answer.

  • What is this called?
  • Can you tell me what you are looking for?
  • What color is this?
  • What shape is this?
  • Who is that?

When he/she does use a word instead of pointing, motivate him/her by clapping, praising and making a big deal of this accomplishment.

Your child wants to please you and will start to think, “Mommy gets so happy! Let me do it again!”

3 thoughts on “3 Ways to Encourage Speech in Toddlers

  1. Arlene, your blog is amazing. its the first time I see it but everything about it is great. And I know you’re directing all of this toward mothers but I can see it being beneficial for fathers too. My first born is a month a way and all of this here is useful information. Thank you so much

  2. It’s my first time reading your blog and I loved every single article! I know kids are very intelligent and I needed some ideas on how to bring the best out of them! Thanks! God bless!

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