As parents, we love to see our children hit all the milestones, encouraging things like talking and vocab (and then there comes a time we wish we hadn’t wished for it so much). That being said, how do you encourage a strong vocabulary in your toddler? There is no magic trick to this. Kids are funny little things and tend to develop at their own pace, regardless of how much we push for more. Here are some things you can to help your child along.
How to Encourage a Strong Vocabulary in Your Toddler
Talk about everything you do: So this may sound a little weird at first but the reality is that your child is a tiny (or not so tiny) little sponge, just soaking up everything you say and do. Washing dishes? Prop him up in the high chair and place him next to you so you can explain what you are doing. Folding laundry? Talk through what you are doing to match socks, have him ‘help’, kids love to help. The idea is the more you talk to him, the more he is learning. This has the added bonus of teaching him the reason why you do certain things and making choices.
Forget the baby talk: I am guilty of this too to a certain extent. I can only imagine my son is looking at me and thinking, ‘Mom, for real? You sound like a goon’. Just speak to him like you would speak to your older kids, or other adults. I mean within reason of course, you aren’t going to walk around talking to him about Shakespeare or Mozart (then again, who really does that on a day to day basis?), but just use your regular tone of voice. It is what he was used to hearing in the womb oh so many months ago.
Read…anything…over and over: Cereal boxes, road signs, whatever you come across. Kids like repetition (we know this because we have Paw Patrol stuck in our heads while we sleep, am I right?). My daughter and I read the same book every night for I don’t even know how many nights. It was the book I Will Love You Forever. She was at a young age and could not read yet, but she knew when that part in the book came, and she ‘read’ it to me at 3 years old. I ended up getting that part of the book tattooed on my arm, because she loved it so much. My point is, just because he can’t read the words does not mean he is not soaking up everything you are saying.
Don’t panic: It is easy to compare your child’s progress with others. Just don’t do it. Every child is different. Not only to kids absorb what you say, but they notice how you are feeling as well. Sensing that they are not doing something right is not going to make his vocab progress any quicker, just keep talking to him and encouraging words. If you’re really worried, talk to your child’s pediatrician about a possible toddler speech delay.
Don’t force it: Along with do not panic is do not force it. Of course we all want our children to speak. If you have a child who is still not using words and ‘should’ be, try this. When your child points to something and grunts, indicating that he wants it, instead of saying ‘Use your words’ (guilty), say something like ‘I see you are pointing to a book. Do you want this book?’ and then hand him the book. Forcing your child to say the word for the thing he wants, can actually be counter-productive.
As hard as it is as parents, we must understand that all kids are different and that includes in their pace of development as well. For some reason we have no problem accepting that our son likes to wear two different pairs of shoes and the same sweatshirt day after day, but when it comes to his vocabulary we compare him to other kids and think he should be further along than he is. Relax. He is just fine. He is taking it all in and in his own time he will bust out with more jibber jabber than you could ever imagine and you might start to wonder if he will ever stop talking.