Back when my toddler had a speech delay, I hung on every sound that came out of his mouth, hoping that perhaps a word was struggling to get through. “Did you just say ‘ha’ for hat? I think you just said ‘ha’!”
Now I have a new “problem”: he can’t keep his mouth shut! Everyone told me that once they start talking, you can’t get them to stop. These are some of the incessant questions that he asks:
- “Who turned on the two circle lights by the elevator?”
- “How many tables do you see?”
- Where’s the box with the divider?”
And letting me know what’s coming up in our routine:
- “Hugas (wash hands), brush teeth, then lotion.”
- “Turn on lights, open blinds, then we turn off fan.”
- “When Mama’s done at office, Mama picks up LO.”
With all my previous (and useless) worrying, these “complaints” are lightly made and I’m fully grateful for the irony. These days though he has taken it up a notch, almost rubbing it in my face that I was actually once worried about whether he would struggle with speech. Either way, I would rather have this comical annoyance than having a speech delay on our hands. And even though he’s clearly talking, I still make it a point to constantly help expand his vocabulary and grammar:
Introduce new words
Last week, my toddler noticed that the light on our elevator looked like it needed to be replaced. He asked, “Why is the light blinking?” He knows the word “blink” from seeing lights on the freeway or on his toys. So I said, “The light is probably flickering because it’s getting old and needs to be fixed or replaced.” In this case, the light was flickering more than blinking, so now he says “flickering” when a light is indeed flickering quickly as opposed to blinking.
Have real conversations
Now that my toddler is well past the cooing stage, I try to have real conversations with him: I answer his questions seriously (even if he asks them a bazillion times) and use regular “adult” words.
Even though I may not always get an answer, I ask my toddler questions that will hopefully get him to elaborate. I’ll ask him how his day was or what fun things he liked best about his day. Recently my husband asked him, “Who was there at Lola’s house?” or “What did you and Mama eat at the Grove?” He answered these pretty accurately!
My toddler’s speech delay was the last time I worried about him. I just remember how useless it was to worry about something that I couldn’t control. For that reason I’ll gladly (albeit wearily) answer his never-ending questions of “What’s this song? What’s this song? What’s this song?”
Why do kids repeat questions and phrases over and over? What other tips help toddler further develop their language and vocabulary?