I love seeing the inner workings of a toddler’s mind clicking over. The conversation this morning went something like this…
Me: “Mmmm.. a car?” (Not really sure where we are going with this yet!)
Immy: “Red” (Though it sounded more like ‘wed’)
Me: “Oh, a red car, yes, Grandma’s car?” (My Mum drives a red car and Immy LOVES it)
Immy: Murmers a sound that indicates she agrees, pauses then “Gone”
Me: “Yes, Grandma’s red car is gone.” (My Mum is trading in her red car for a new one today)
Me: “Yes, Grandma’s new car is black.” (Which it is)
Immy: “BRRRROOOOOOM!” (Yes, I am sure it will be doing just that!)
Immy is adding new words to her vocabulary daily now and is also beginning to share information, and initiate and engage in conversation (like the one above). Although she used only single words in her responses, she was clearly linking ideas and choosing the words that she thought would tell me what I needed to know.
It is important to engage in conversation with babies and toddlers, and such a delight as a parent when they begin to engage you back, both with babbles as babies and with words once they are speaking. With early talkers, parents can encourage further speech development by;
- Talking often with them.
- Not being overly concerned with correcting punctuation, instead repeating the word in its correct form back to the child in their own responses, “You would like me to pass you the ball?”
- Introduce your child to new words by using a rich vocabulary and introducing new words to the conversation in your responses, “You would like me to pass you the big, red ball?”
- Read, read, read often to your child.
- Paying attention to your child’s words, gestures and body language as they talk to you will help you to correctly interpret what they are trying to communicate, hopefully reducing the likelihood that they will become frustrated as you don’t understand.
- Remember that although they understand more than they can speak themselves, they may still not understand everything you tell them. Try re-phrasing or changing your one of voice when your child appears confused or uncertain.
And, learn to become a good listener. That way nothing will get lost in translation!