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Steps to Help Your Delayed Talker

toddler language delayYou have a lot of titles as a parent: short order cook, chauffeur, personal assistant, maid. Are you also your toddler’s ever-present translator? No, she’s pointing at the yogurt hiding behind the milk gallon. Well, she’s screaming because you handed her a purple cup and she only drinks out of green cups.

It’s easy for you to navigate through these situations to avoid the tantrums and frustrations because you know your child’s preferences and you know she doesn’t have strong communication skills. You can respond to points, grunts and cries, but are you really helping her by swiftly taking the path of least resistance? How can you teach her the communication skills she needs to be independent and thrive?

Take simple steps to act as your child’s first language teacher:

  1. Give choices. Would you like the yogurt or a banana? For a child who doesn’t have a firm grasp of the words yogurt or banana, show the snacks as options. For a child who knows the word, but is reluctant talk, not having the choices in front of him will more naturally lead to his verbalizing the answer, instead of his taking the ‘easier’ route of pointing or grabbing the food.
  2. Go ahead and offer the purple cup you know will be refused. Your child will have both the opportunity and motivation to speak when her needs are not always met automatically. Let your child’s age and language skills dictate what you consider an appropriate response. You might wait until she says, “Want green cup,” or simply wait until she says “no” in response to your offer, based on her abilities.

Initially, these steps may take longer, but are instrumental to save time and frustration in the long run as your child’s communication, independence, and confidence improve with his practiced skills.


Care Coordinators can arrange a free 30 minute Care Consultation so you can explore options with an expert. We invite you to call or email our Care Coordinators at 650.688.3625 or careteam@chconline.org to set up an initial Parent Consultation appointment.

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