The toddler years are probably some of the most frustrating times of trying to communicate with your child (other than those teenage years, of course). They’re learning how to speak, how to form words, trying really hard to tell us what they want — while at the same time — we are trying to help them, trying our hardest to understand them. And let’s be honest, there are times we have absolutely no idea what they mean by “nuhnevla” (spoiler alert, it means “vanilla”). During toddler care, we work on helping them with this communication.
Kids Are Copycats
We may not realize it in the heat of the moment when our toddler is being louder than we’d like (using inside voices at the library for example), but getting them to mimic us is actually a great teaching tool. Not only are the littles learning to talk, but they are also learning social norms. Talking to the children in the way we would like them to talk not only teaches them communication skills, it aids in the learning of behaving properly as well. With toddlers and small children of any age really, try whispering back to them when they are being a little loud. Be calm and lighthearted in your way of speaking and you may just find that your child is whispering back to you! Angry librarian stare averted! You can practice this with simple sight words as well.
Responses and Affirmation
When we respond to the kids during toddler care, it is showing them they are understood and encourages future communication. Sure, it can be frustrating to a little one who is trying so very hard to get the words out. Think about it, it’s pretty irritating when you need to say something, but just can’t say the right thing! It’s a great practice to say their sounds back to them and if you understand what they’re trying to say, reply to them, saying the word in its correct pronunciation. Hopefully, that copycat thing we mentioned will kick in. Once their vocabulary builds, start asking questions! Our toddlers can be tiny little know-it-alls and want to fill you in on so much more.
Say It with Your Hands
Nonverbal communication is a fantastic form of speaking when the kids just can’t get those words out during toddler care. ASL, or American Sign Language, is a phenomenal tool to use with your children as soon as they start communicating. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds! Using signs for specific objects or feelings can help to minimize that toddler frustration when the vocal words aren’t working. Examples of useful signs are hungry, thank you, tired, toy, book, teacher, mom, and dad! Try one, it can be a fun family practice. We work with them on this as well during toddler care to help broaden their communication horizons.
Communicating with a toddler can be difficult sometimes, but we promise you it is not impossible. Using some of these tips and working with our teachers are a great start to building these useful skills with your little ones. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to ask us! We’d be happy to help in the conversation.