Speech Delays, Toddlers and Tantrums: How to Deal

Toddler speech delays and tantrums seem to go hand--in-hand. Check out our parenting tips to help get your through the rough times with your sanity in tact.

Isn’t it so frustrating when you can’t express what you are trying to say?  Can you imagine simply not knowing the words you need to say what you want?  When you’re dealing with a toddler speech delay, this is likely how they feel.  They do not know the words they need to communicate with you, so they act out, they throw tantrums.  How do you handle this?

Toddler Speech Delays & Tantrums: How to Cope

Be patient: Keep your cool.  Someone needs to in this situation!  It can be maddening when your child throws a tantrum.  When your child doesn’t have the words he needs, it’s a little different than throwing a fit because they are not getting a toy at the store.  Speak softly to your child, on his level.  Standing tall and over your child can feel intimidating and you want to be a calming presence.

Practice: Even though your child has a toddler speech delay, chances are he has his own way of communicating. When your child is ‘speaking’ to you in his non-verbal way, use your words and get him to repeat after you.  This will not be beneficial in the throes of a tantrum, you want to do this when he is calm.  When you are cleaning or playing or cooking, speak to your child and interact, using words and asking him to repeat what you say.

Be strong: I don’t mean physically!  It might be easy to treat your child with a speech delay differently than the others, but avoid doing this.  Treat him just like you would your other children.  When he throws a tantrum, and the consequence is a timeout, follow through.  When timeout is over, go over and speak to your child, on his level.  Talk to him about what he was trying to say and work on words he can use to express his feelings.  The more he has words to express himself, the less he will get frustrated.

Redirect: Just like any other child, you don’t want to feed the tantrum just because it’s related to a toddler speech delay.  Redirect your child into something he is interested in.  Get him to help you with something.  Take his focus off him not being able to express himself at the moment and move on.  Then use the time you have that he is calm, to teach him some words he can use to express himself.

It is hard enough as an adult not being able to find the words we need to say what we want.  It is even harder for a toddler who is just learning how to talk, and is having a hard time.  It is no wonder they might throw a fit!  Just stay calm, listen to your child and help him get the words out.

Are you the parent dealing with a toddler speech delay?  Maybe your child is grown, but had trouble as a toddler, what sort of things did you do to help him along?  Sharing your stories below will help out some other moms and dads dealing with a toddler who struggles to say what he wants!

17 thoughts on “Speech Delays, Toddlers and Tantrums: How to Deal”

  1. My kids can talk so well but they still have tantrums! I can see why speech impediments could cause frustration.

  2. Our 19 month old grandson is only able to say a few words and he gets frustrated and throws tantrums. I can totally relate to this post. I truly believe speech therapy would be a huge help.

  3. We have used sign language with words to help our daughter communicate with us. We’ve been doing it since she was a baby, so when she does have difficulty saying some words, she signs while speaking. It’s helped her a lot.

  4. I will have to share this with my friend. Her 5 year old is Autistic and non verbal. These would be great tips for her.

  5. My daughter is in graduate school and hopes to be an auditory verbal therapist. I am going to share these tips with her.thanks!

  6. It’s great that there is therapy for those who need it. I’m sure it’s frustrating if you can’t understand what they want.

  7. My little man had some delays and it was a bit frustrating. Thankfully our state offered help and sent someone to help him. He learned basic signs for food, drink, more, etc… and it really really helped.

  8. That totally makes sense. My nephew had a serious speech delay, and he’d get so frustrated with all of us when we couldn’t understand him. He improved with speech therapy and has no trouble today.

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