3 Top Tips to get your Toddler Talking

It can be heartbreaking watching your little one frustrated and unable to communicate. Late talkers who don’t get the right support are at risk of literacy and social difficulties. You want desperately to help them learn how to talk. But how do you teach a child to talk? The most powerful and proven strategies for teaching young children to talk are what we call the Talking Trifecta.

Here they are:

  1. Modelling
  2. Repetition
  3. Waiting

MODELLING has two key elements: self-talk and parallel-talk. Self talk is where you provide a running commentary on everything you are doing using short, simple phrases (yes you sometimes sound like a crazy person doing it in public but it works!) e.g. “Mummy is eating, yum, eating a carrot. Crunch crunch. Mmm yummy carrot. Oh look I ate the carrot. All gone!” Parallel talk is similar but you are providing a running commentary on what your LO is doing eg “You are looking at the book. Open the book. Hmmm what’s that? A sheep. You are looking at the sheep. Turn the page. More sheep! Uh oh. Shut the book. Finished reading. Bye sheep.”

REPETITION means that you say the same word over and over but in slightly different different word combinations eg “car, fast car, big car, the car is red, I love cars, more cars, stop car, go car. I found a car!”

WAITING means that after you’ve done some modelling with repetition built in you lead in with a phrase and…..wait. When we say wait we mean a full 5+ seconds (doesn’t sound long but in a conversation it seems like FOREVER!).

These three strategies have all been researched and shown to help little people who are delayed in learning to talk. You might feel a bit silly when you first start using them as it feels like you are just talking to yourself. Also, waiting for a child who isn’t talking might seem pointless but these strategies really do work and are some of the ingredients of the “special sauce” Speech Pathologists use in speech therapy sessions to help a child learn to talk.

                                                                             – by Rachel Tosh

About the Author

Rachel Tosh TAG clinic

Rachel Tosh
Speech Pathologist

Rachel is a Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist (CPSP) with a wide variety of clinical experience in inpatient and outpatient paediatric care in both Australia and the UK which enables her to translate theory into real life application across diverse clinical contexts. Her latest adventure, Speech Parent is changing the face of paediatric speech pathology internationally by empowering and educating parents of children with communication and feeding difficulties. She describes herself as a recovering work-a-holic (we all know she isn’t actually recovering – seriously who else sends emails at 4:30am!?). Rachel is passionate about: business leadership; literacy and feeding difficulties; educating and empowering others; and optimising therapy outcomes. Although these interests may seem diverse, the recurring theme through them all is a love for facilitating growth and development in others so they can achieve their own unique potential. Things I like: “Lamb roast, reading, helping others and creating systems that work…I may or may not enjoy these together!” Things I don’t like: “People not respecting each other and children missing out because of bad care or broken systems.” Favourite colour: “Can I have the whole rainbow?” How the TAG team describe Rachel: “Passionate”; “Hard working”; “Creative”.

“Be there for others but never leave yourself behind”    -Dodinski

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