Teaching Your Toddler How To Communicate
My 11 month old daughter has recently begun having a lot of meltdowns and tantrums due to not being able to properly communicate or express her needs to me. I was reminded of what a difficult time this is for toddlers, stuck in a world they are so curious about learning, yet not able to tell us anything about it. Something as simple as a toy in her hand and not being able to tell me she can’t get it to work instantly leads to tears. Wanting a cup on the counter and crying because she can’t tell me that’s what she needs at the moment. There are so many simple and effective ways we can help our toddlers to communicate so they don’t become so frustrated and upset. Here are a few ways to make teaching your toddler how to communicate with you easy and fun, things that I have had great success with when my first two children were toddlers and that are currently working well with my baby girl Adeline.
Sign Language: You don’t have to be an expert in baby sign language to effectively use it with your toddler, heck we make up our own signs all of the time! You will be so surprised at how quickly your toddler will pick up on sign language and begin using the signs to tell you what they need. One of the most frequent signs we use are milk for when she wants to nurse, all done for when she is finished her snack/meal, more, and cup for when she is thirsty. These have really helped her to communicate with me before getting upset and escalating to a full meltdown. There are some things to keep in mind about teaching your baby sign language… it practical, less fussing and more fun… sign language it emotional and creates a closer parental bond and lastly, sign language is cognitive and boosts brain development! There are no negative side effects to sign language, it will not delay their speech, it actually in many cases has toddler talking sooner because they begin to attempt saying the words alongside the sign.
Teach Them The Word For Everything: Making a big emphasis on words is very important and make sure to tell your toddler the word for everything… reputation is key! I was recently teaching my daughter nose, eyes, ears, mouth an hair. I make sure to always say it multiple times before moving onto the next body part and pointing to it on both myself and my daughter. When you believe your child has a good idea of what the body parts are, say one out loud and encourage them to point to it. Pointing is a major form of communication for your child and if you can teach them to point to things, they will be able to better communicate with you.
Play: Not only is play important for your child’s development and social skills, but it is a great way to teach them to communicate. Playing allows them to discover new words and apply them to objects. Have them imitate or make animals sounds… fly an airplane or zoom a car around the carpet. See if they imitate what you are doing and encourage them to make the sounds as well. Learning to imitate is absolutely essential to learning to talk. Once your child can imitate words, they will usually make the jump to try and say these new words.
Withhold An Item Until Your Child Communicates: If your child is in the midst of throwing a tantrum, you’ve recognized what it is they want and then immediately hand it to them… your child will not be enticed to talk. Instead of handing them the cup they are screeching for right away, first you need to ask them to sign and say the word cup. Show them that they must communicate this word to them or they will not get the cup. Don’t settle for simply finding the correct item they need, always have your toddler tell you what it is they want.
Recognize Their Cues: You need to remember that your toddler isn’t throwing a tantrum because they are being bad or misbehaving. Toddlers have meltdowns because they are frustrated and upset that they can’t get you to understand what it is they need. So as their parent we need to pay close attention to their cues and help them before they reach that boiling point. Be patient, kind, understanding and remember… this won’t last forever and before you know it you won’t be able to get them to stop talking!
What are some ways you help your toddler to communicate? Any advice you have that wasn’t mentioned in this post? Was this post helpful to you? We would love to hear your feedback!