5 Ways I Got My Lil Man Chatting

As an English teacher at a secondary school, I have to prepare my pupils for Speaking and Listening exams. This, of course, is very different to teaching a toddler to speak. Firstly, they can already string a sentence together (well, mostly).

Secondly, the purpose is very different; the pupils are learning how to become great public speakers. Whereas, a toddler is learning everyday vocabulary (at least to start with).

However, there are some methods that my husband and I adopted at home, which I am convinced helped my son become so articulate and forward for his age. I have previously mentioned how quickly he picks up words.

Two Way Conversation

Nobody is going to talk to a brick wall, including a child. I remember, even when my son was only a few months old, I would chat away to him as though he understood every word. But just hearing words all the time can be helpful. Engage with your child whenever they speak. Even if you;

Talking to babies makes them start cooing, which is them practising
Talking to babies makes them start cooing, which is them practising

a) don’t have a clue what they are trying to say

b) really don’t feel like it

c) don’t feel like it needs a response

Every utterance is progress; they are trying to master the sounds and if they get no response, they may just give up. This also leads me on to my next point…

Encouragement

Everyone loves praise. Even as adults we seek approval, whether its from our boss, parents or partner. So every time your toddler labels something correctly or gets a word in the right context, praise them. A simple ‘well done’ or ‘that’s right’ can work but remember the tone of your own voice too. Try to sound as bright and positive as you can (even if you feel a bit like your trying to be a kids’ TV presenter).

Don’t Patronise

Its difficult not to talk down to a toddler, they are after all, children. But don’t let their lack of vocabulary fool you into thinking they don’t understand you. Both at school and at home, talk to my pupil and children as though they were adults (to some degree). Tots learn by mimicking what they see and hear so if your simplifying things too much they could take much longer to progress. And if they get a word wrong, simply correct them in a positive tone.

Avoid Baby Talk

Following on from my last point, children are like sponges and will pick words up quickly, but you don’t want them to have learn the names for things twice over. In other words, use the words you would when addressing an adult. For example, you wouldn’t say ‘Do you want a bot-bot of beer with your din-dins’ to your partner (or maybe you would – each to their own).

I know its cute when babies and toddlers say things like ‘Baa Lamb’ or ‘Gee Gee’ but they then have to learn the correct words at some point, it just seems like extra work for both you and them. And don’t be afraid to use longer words sometimes, the more they are exposed to them, the sooner they will start to use them themselves.

Using Play and Interaction to Encourage Your Toddler’s Speech

Learning through Play

One of my assignments for my teaching training involved investigating why boys were underachieving at school. A theory I came across was that boys are behind girls in terms of speech from preschool age because of the difference in toys they play with. For example, girls tend to favour roleplaying which mimics adults such as playing mummies or shops, as well as playing with dolls more. These games all involve lots of speech, whereas, boys tend to favour toys such as cars and sports which involve little or no speech.

Happyland figures from Early Learning Centre
Happyland figures from Early Learning Centre

With this in mind, I purposefully bought lots of figures for Lil Man to play with and I interact with him when he plays. This is now his favourite game and he doesn’t stop talking the whole time he is playing.

Bedtime Stories

From a very early age, we got into the routine of reading a bedtime story to our little boy. Every night one of us would read him a book, even as a baby. You may feel silly reading or talking to a baby so young and you may dismiss it as not being necessary until they are old enough to speak themselves, but the sooner you start making it habitual, the sooner they will develop a love for books. Also, hearing you read aloud means they become familiar with words you wouldn’t normally use in everyday conversation.

Lil Man loves books now
Lil Man loves books now

I am no expert and you can interpret these tips how you like. However, I do feel that this combination of activities (and maybe some born intelligence) has ensured my son can string together complex sentences and master some 4 syllable words at such a young age (25 months).

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21 comments

  1. I love this piece as it reminds me of the role playing we did with you Carly. I’d come home from work and Mum would inform me you’d set up a shop or sometimes a school that I was expected to shop at/attend as soon as u came home. You were a very organised pleasant shopkeeper but a rather strict stern teacher, I always preferred to come home to the shopkeeper than the teacher. Xxx

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  2. Thank you these are wonderful tips! I’,m just about to start interventions for my son’s communication so this is really helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. awesome read! totally agree. this is what i do with my little one and she loves it when i talk to her a lot! #mummymonday

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  4. Wow this post caught my attention because em son (3) has a severe speech and language delay and one of the courses I went on to help him explained everything that you have written. It’s so true about how boys and girls play especially in my sons case. For a whole year he was only interested in cars and trains and as much as I’ve tried to get involved there is only so much you can do with these. He is making progress but it’s very slow and just last night I ordered a load of happy land stuff that we can add ‘people’ and throw some imaginative play into the mix. Will be interesting to see how this helps improve his speech. I also started reading him the same book before bed each night. One with numbers and colours. He now knows the primary colours and numbers 1-10. Not bad for a little boy who only knew 30 singular words back in January. My son seems to have a speech disorder and suspected ASD, but just making small changes has seen him make so much progress 🙂

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    • Oh wow, well done! It sounds like he is making very quick progress. I’m glad I’m saying the same thing as the professionals, as I wouldn’t want to contradict experts in the field and confuse anyone. By the time children go to school, on the whole they are all on the same level and have caught up with each other, so try not to worry too much. Sounds like you’re doing everything you can to help him.

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  5. I love this piece. I truly believe in the power of talking to your children from a young age. I have done so ever since birth much along the same lines as the above and now my little girl is 2 she is just so communicative I’m so pleased I’ve done so. Some people think you can talk too much to your kids. I couldn’t disagree more. Thanks so much for hosting #wineandboobs

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  6. Great advice. Our boy is 15 months and has put all his energy into walking so we’re keen to get some words soon. He has always babbled at us though and we talk back to him as if we’re having a normal conversation! I am sure hekknows lots of words as we can ask him to bring us specific toys. But everything is still a ‘ba’ for now. I get a ‘da’ but no ‘ma’ for mummy yet 😦

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  7. Great tips.

    My youngest daughter is currently under Speech Therapy. She has always been behind in her development but coming on pretty well recently.

    Thank you so much for linking up with #justanotherlinky Hope too see you again Sunday. xxx

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  8. Great post. Like Dad without a map, my little boy isn’t saying any words yet at 15 months but seems to understand a lot.There are some really useful tips here, thank you. I do a few of them already, but I’d never considered that his toys aren’t ones that encourage role playing, so will look at getting him some little figures too!

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    • Yea I’m convinced this is one of the bigger factors contributing to him being so eloquent. Would love to know if it makes any difference, please let me know. Thanks for reading 🙂

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  9. Love this post and can’t believe he can “play shop” so eloquently at such a young age. S didn’t really speak until he was 2 years 4 months but like you, I constantly chatted to him, spoke to him like an adult, read to him and encouraged him. When he did start speaking, it came so fast, it was like it was all there but just needed to come out. He’s now 3 years 4 months and you’d think he was a lot older because his speech is great 🙂 Thanks for linking up to #happyquacks 🙂 xx

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  10. This is such a fab post. My boy and I were stopped by a couple last weekend, at a restaurant, who commented on how good the kids were (we had our twins and my niece with us— all 2 years old). I thanked them and then they said — ‘we’ve been watching you all; they’re well behaved because you *speak* to them. You’ve included them in everything you’re doing and have been chatting to them the whole time’ — I thought that was so lovely of them to say and it made me realise that I DO talk to them all the time!!

    Sometimes it feels like a running commentary and other times that it’s a bit of a one sided conversation but — little by little — they’re starting to chat back to me which is lovely!! 🙂 One of the days we’ll be having a full blown discussion!! 😉 Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday — hope to see you again next week! x

    Caro | http://www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk

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