Everything is “I I I I” and the world revolves around them. When they finally get the concept of “I” and that it is actually them they will start commenting on their actions like no other!
We find it often happens with things that “go wrong”. For instance, if something broke they may say “I broke” or if they’re falling they say “I falling”. Use any opportunity to comment on what you are doing, so they begin to understand the concept. If you are cooking, you can say “I’m cutting”, “I’m mixing”, etc.
A great way to get longer “I” statements out of them is asking questions such as “What are you doing” or “Tell me about what you’re doing” to keep it open-ended. It may lead to “I eating yogurt” or “I playing Legos” – and hopefully one day “I giving Mommy a massage!” 😉 And it doesn’t always have to be an action… you can move onto feelings or attributes such as “I sad” or “I have blue eyes”.
This will later lead to the concept of “you” as you keep talking about what you are doing at the moment and what they are doing such as “I am reading” and “You are playing”. It is also helpful to point to who you are talking about so it becomes more visual. Have fun teaching pronouns!
The most difficult part of answering a “wh” questions is actually knowing the meaning of the “wh” word. For instance, you have to know that “who” is asking for a person, “where” is asking for a place, “what” is asking for a thing, “when” is referring to a time, and “why” is asking for a reason. “When” and “where” may still be too complicated for this age, but it’s always good to throw it in here and there.
When talking about “who” you can stick to basic things like looking through a photo album to label family members names or you can make it harder as in “Who drives a bus?”. Visual support is always welcome at this age and can be in the form of pictures, illustrations in books, videos, etc. And remind them that “who” is asking for a person.
As for “what”, it could be as simple as asking “What is this?” while using a flashcard, reading a book, etc. This usually only encourages a one-word response since it is not open-ended. You can make it slightly more complicated by saying “What do you see?”, “What do you need?”, etc. This allows for them to use a start phrase such as “I see a duck”. You can then go onto more difficult questions such as “What does a cow say?”, “What do you wear when it’s hot?”
When referring to “where” they have to know that you are asking about a place, so we find that when you’re walking down the street, driving, etc. it is helpful to talk about where you are going. You can even talk about the immediate here and now and ask “Where are you right now?” (e.g. – at home, in the car, in the stroller, etc.). It also gradually helps them understand concepts that are not tangible such as “Where is daddy?” (e.g. – work, on a business trip, etc.) – actual pictures of daddy at his workplace would also be great!
Your child has come to a point where they can play independently and it is time for them to join their play with words. At first, they may be labeling objects they’re picking up or see. Let’s say they’re in their play kitchen and they say “banana”. You can expand on it by creating a phrase “Let’s PEEL the banana”. Emphasize novel words and unique parts of a phrase to allow it to stand out to your child.
It’s all about input they are receiving. The more verbal modeling that you provide during play, everyday errands, etc. the more likely they are to start narrating their own actions. Feel free to initiate structured play with them. For instance, grab a tea set and start setting it up by saying phrases such as “Here’s a plate”. Then, take the teapot and say “Pouring tea”, pretend to drink it and say “Drinking tea” or “Wow! It’s hot!”, etc.
Another alternative is to chime in when they have already initiated play with an item on their own. “Oh the car is going up up up the garage!”, “The car needs gas!”, “We’re driving fast!”, etc. They do not have to repeat everything you are saying, but you are giving their actions words and meaning. You are also adding new vocabulary to their repertoire. For example, they may already know “car”, but “gas” might be a new word. To give it extra meaning, talk about getting gas when you’re actually at the gas station. Real life situations will encourage them to make more connections and make them more apt to using new words and longer phrases when on their own.
By this time your toddler is really getting a handle of basic body parts such as eyes, nose, mouth, legs, etc. It’s a perfect time to build on that during play. For instance, you can use it while playing a game of tickling, modified Simon Says, or our favorite pretend play with a doctor kit.
A medical kit contains a ton of items such as a bandaid, stethoscope, needle, thermometer, etc. and it gives your child a chance to act out a familiar routine. If your child is labeling individual body parts, you can use the pretend play to expand to 2-3 word phrases. If you’re focused on your nose you can say “Uh Oh! Nose (is) broken!” or “Oh no! (My) nose hurts! Many children find it funny when “something goes wrong”, so the language will stand out to them!
Later on, you can expand work on more advanced body parts such as “elbow” and requesting specific items such as “shot”. It’s also a way to work on initiating questions such as “Are you okay?”, “What hurts?”, “What happened?”, etc. You can even work on commenting using temperature such as “You feel hot”. It even works on the skills of empathy and how others could be feeling. All in all, it’s a great way to expand their imagination and may even make them less scared of going to the real doctor!
Do you hear your toddler producing /s/ with their tongue out? It’s never too early to model the correct production and try to correct it. Lisps are often very difficult to correct as a child gets older, so our motto is the earlier the better!
This part is too complicated for toddlers, but just so you know as an adult we produce the /s/ sound by putting our tongue tip on the alveolar ridge (bumpy ridge right behind our top teeth). You can show a toddler this by having them look at you or looking at a mirror while you overemphasize the sound to try to show them where their tongue goes. Sometimes we even like to use a tongue depressor or our finger to show them where our bumpy ridge is – for older children we even put a little bit of peanut butter on the spot so they know where their tongue is supposed to touch.
As for the manner in which the sound is produced it is called a fricative, which means it is a “hissing” type sound and air escapes through the teeth causing friction. One thing you can do which works with my toddler is bringing your teeth together or telling them to bite down while producing /s/. This may sound a bit exaggerated, but it makes sure their tongue does not come out.
Many other articulation errors are age-appropriate and can be categorized into phonological processes or patterns, but it is definitely important to keep an eye out and always model correct production. These issues sometimes grow into articulation disorders (which later may manifest themselves into problems with reading and writing) and you want your child to be understood by all listeners and to be able to form friendships easily.
We have two resources if you need further help. Our interactive iBooks: Vowels & Diphthongs and our Consonants iBook.
Oh boy!! Have you entered the Terrible Twos yet? We have here! Yes it might be early, but we are in the depths of it. Crying, screaming, hitting, laying yourself on the ground – you name it. It’s actually a very natural phase. Although we see it as negative behavior, it is really more a phase for your toddler to use their voice, gauge their power, and see what they can get away with.
We like to think of the first step in speech and language fashion. Let’s say you see your child gradually becoming upset and you want to try to prevent it from escalating. You can start off by saying “I know you’re feeling sad Johnny took the toy from you. Why don’t we go over there and try to ask for it back? And then once you play with it for 5 minutes we can give him a turn”.
If you see the behavior getting out of control what we often like to do is to take him away from the situation to get the attention off. At this point we feel that ignoring works best (making sure they are not hurting themselves of course).
Once they calm down (it make take 5-10 or more minutes!), we always find that praising them for good behavior such as keeping their body calm, calming down, keeping their hands down, standing up, etc. is the way to go. Keep it simple while using positive language such as “Good keeping your feet down!”. This way you are reinforcing positive behavior and not negative behavior. Different techniques of course work for different children, but in our case we’ve seen the explanation of feelings in the beginning greatly diminish negative behavior. We wish you all the luck in the world! 😉
Your toddler is becoming very aware of his surroundings and people around him. You can use it as a chance to really connect with people and things by giving compliments. For instance, Roman has started complimenting our hair saying “hair nice”.
You can target things such as artwork and verbally model phrases such as “pretty picture”. If a girl is wearing a pretty dress you can model “cute dress”. If a friend is playing with a fun new toy you can say “cool new truck”. This now only will make others feel happy, but will also make your toddler start thinking about the power of their words.
And it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone or something that someone has made or has. It could be things that you see in nature. Let’s say you’re taking a walk you can talk about a tree by saying “Wow that’s a beautiful tall tree!”. There are tons of possibilities, so go ahead and make someone’s day!