When it comes to speech problems in toddlers, it is understandable that parents will worry especially about their academic success later in life.
Most times, there is nothing to worry about, but if you feel like it’s becoming too much of a cause of concern, you can consult a professional on the issue.
First, the professional will examine the child and identify any potential problems. Then, if there is a cause for worry, they will help you determine what methods or steps will be suitable to solve the identified problem without bringing the child undue stress.
There are various activities that a parent can indulge in with their kids to help their toddlers with speech problems. You can divide them into two categories they are exercise therapy and physical or oral therapy.
- 1 Activities To Help Toddlers With Speech
- 2 Examples of exercise therapy
- 3 Examples of physical or oral therapy
- 4 Things To Avoid
- 5 What to do when your toddler is not talking
Activities To Help Toddlers With Speech
Examples of exercise therapy
1. The use of straws: encourage Your children to use straws when drinking, even if it is water or juice because this will help to develop the muscles in their mouth and teach them how to properly use their tongues, lips, and teeth, which is needed for clear speech.
You can even make it into a game where you put a ball on water or a table and ask them to use a straw to blow the ball away.
2. Smiling: encourage your toddler to smile because this will help to strengthen their lips.
3. kissing your child may sound weird, but kissing your baby and encouraging them to kiss you back will also help build their oral muscles because they have to move their lips.
4. Playing oral games to develop the jaws: like toddlers, there’s little chance of getting them to do actual jaw exercise; however, you can turn those exercises into games that will be fun for you and your baby to play.
For example, you ask them to puff out their cheeks while you do the same for about five to ten seconds, saying “aaahhhh” for 5 seconds and asking them to repeat it.
5. You can also play tongue games like show me your tongue or shake your tongue because it will help develop their oral- motor skills. You can also hold out a spoon and ask them to touch the spoon with their tongues.
Examples of physical or oral therapy
Aside from getting help from a pediatrician or speech therapist, you can also help your toddler meet speech milestones.
You can compare children to sponges because they soak up everything that happens around them, so you can use this as an advantage to teach them how to speak by doing the following:
Be a chatterbox
Children are always listening to people even when they don’t know they are doing it, so saying random things teaches them to speak.
To your child will help a lot. Read to your child, and ask them to read it to you or explain what the book is about. You can make it interesting by getting a new book every week; the child will be excited and reading to learn; this will also improve their confidence in speech and their speech development.
Frequently toddlers tend to point to objects to ask for them instead of using words; you can become their interpreter and teach them names of items they don’t know.
For example, if your toddler should point to a cookie, you can reply with “you want a cookie” while raising or touching the cookies. You can also expand by saying, “ooh my baby, what’s a cookie” by doing so, you are building their vocabulary.
When they need something, they will be encouraged to say the word instead of pointing.
1. Expand on their questions and responds: try to explain or say more about whatever they say; for example, if your toddler says “apple,” you can respond by saying, “ooh, that’s a sweet green apple,” and continue with “do you want one” or “do you want a bite” that way you have taught them new words.
2. Singing to your toddler: nursery or preschool songs and rhymes are good for speech development. A lullaby also works because it’ll give them good memories. In addition, research has proven that different parts of the human brain control speech and singing, so you can learn to sing even if you can’t speak.
Some teachers use songs to teach important formulas theories because they know the children wouldn’t forget them. So you can develop one part of the brain before the other develops.
3. Use of description: try to add a bit of description to everything your toddler says; by doing this, you will build their vocabulary. For example, if your toddler says “cat,” reply with “a big black cat,” if they say “cookie,” you reply “ chocolate cookies.” This is how many toddlers learn new words and build their vocabulary.
4. Spend time outside: nothing catches a child’s attention like nature; you can take walks in the park and engage in conversations like “ooh, what a beautiful day,” or “such a lovely rose.” Ask them questions about what they see or ask simple questions like “do you see the ducks” or “do you want to go up there.”
5. Avoid any form of baby talk: though you may find it adorable when toddlers use the baby version of words, do not use baby talk when responding to them or feel that you have to correct them. Just reply with the correct version of the words. For example, if your toddler asks you to give them an “apo,” you can reply with “yes, I’ll give you an apple.”
6. Give your Toddlers choices: put your toddlers in positions where they have to make choices or think about what they want; for example, say you want to dress them, you can ask them to choose “blue shirt or red shirt.”
7. Use common everyday situations: you could be cooking and reading the recipe to your toddler, or you could indulge them by saying, “ where are the eggs? I can’t find them,” so they will reply.
8. Listen to your toddler: interrupting them while they are trying to speak will make them anxious and unable to express themselves, don’t ask questions. Wait until they are through; this will help build their confidence in speech. Don’t expect perfection; make the conversation neutral to not create unnecessary stress for them.
9. Giving them rewards: rewards can make any game interesting, no matter how simple they are; you can use this method to teach your toddlers to speak. For example, you can say a word and like them to repeat it, and when they do it ( right or not), they get a sip of juice; this will help build their confidence when speaking.
Things To Avoid
1. Reduce toys that speak:
You’re trying to encourage your toddler to speak, so toys that do all the talking defeat the purpose and hinder the goal of them speaking. It’ll be more helpful to use toys that require communication like dollhouses, wooden blocks, brick buildings, etc.
2. Reduce all background noise or possible distractions:
Research has proven that TV can limit speech or language development, so you’ll want to keep that to a minimum. Also, toys with a lot of lights are not advised to distract children when they are spoken to or during learning lessons.
Also, children whose parents don’t talk to them tend not to learn to speak as much as they would have if their parents had spoken to them enough.
3. Limit TV /Media or screen time:
Excessive Television can hinder the speech development process because the TV does all the talking. You’ll not talk to your child as much as you would when you’re not watching TV, and even if you do, they will not pay attention because they will start at the screen; although an hour of screen time is advice able for Toddlers.
What to do when your toddler is not talking
If your toddler still isn’t talking after you have put in all this effort, then they may have problems with their verbal communication. In this case, it is advised you seek the help of your pediatrician or speech therapist.
Varying conditions like intellectual disabilities can cause language or speech delays, undeveloped oral motor skills, hearing impairment/disabilities, or sometimes, in worst cases, it could be caused by Autism spectrum disorders.
Although speech delay is not enough symptoms or proof to show that a child has autism; because some children hit different milestones at different rates. In some cases, speech delays are caused by underlying injury or conditions that need to be treated. In such cases, language or speech therapy can be used.
I am a proud mother of two, a lover and home builder. My love for children gave birth to the bestofmotherearth.com with the aim to cover topics from child health, pregnancy, parenting, family, relationship, struggles in families and also food.