Toddler talk

I think as a parent I am somewhat of a panic merchant at times. I make myself huge invisible lists by which I measure my mothering skills. Some are reasonable, some idealistic others probably farfetched.

Anyway, hard as it is not to I find that despite my very thorough teacher training I carry doubts and anxieties about whether my children are “normal”. Yes, I know… what is normal anyway? By which stick are we measuring normal anyway? The best any of us can hope for is they are the best version of themselves possible thanks to our caring, thoughtful, tireless and sometimes even relentless parenting.

The truth is there will always be someone “better” in specific areas. So what?

Lately I have been in a panic about Miss Bee’s language development. She has HEAPS of words. At 18 months she had over 80. She can communicate beautifully. She can do a range of finger plays like Twinkle Star. Yet I started listening more carefully, with the ear of a teacher not a mother. Instead of revelling over what she has developed I looked at the deficits. She mainly uses single syllable words. Sure there are HEAPS of them but the two+ syllable ones seem to have the ends cut off. Apple is App, Carrot is Ca and so forth. Seemingly she knows lots and lots of nouns… but the others like pronouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions and adverbs are still developing. Which makes sentence making rather tricky when all you have are primarily nouns.

Suddenly I feel as if all my efforts have failed her. After all I started reading to her from birth, by 4 months she could turn the page of a board book. Surely she would be super articulate by now? But it is what it is. I’ve taken her for an initial speech assessment and spoken to an interstate friend who is a Speech Therapist. While she is in the normal range we are going to have her hearing checked and then a more thorough assessment. But as things go, suddenly she is surprising me. “Ha tied” she says looking at the sleeping Hazel, yes Hazel is tired! Upon waking she called out “Mum… dad.. Pooh …Tig” Yes, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger rate up there with us. When I was cooking she looked at the carrots and said “ two”- indeed there were two carrots.

I’ve been searching the internet for ideas and solace. If you have a toddler and want to know what is “normal”, how to expand what they have and books that might help here is a round up! Some of the concepts surprised me yet others were familiar. The interesting one was that spoken language comes after symbolic play. Language IS a symbol- so until a child can understand that an arbitrary thing can mean something specific then they won’t be sprouting chatter. The other concepts I particularly nodded to were expansions “Ca one two” is responded to “yes, there are two carrots, one two”. But a new concept was extension- “yes, there are two ORANGE carrots, one two”… I think I naturally do this with older children but perhaps I need to do this more with Miss Bee.

The last week I have been dragging out two syllable words TED DEEE, HUUUN EEEE, MUUUMM EEE. She has managed to repeat those and even said Hazel a few times. I have also been emphasising the “not noun” words. “Let’s GO IN the car?” “Get IN the car” “Up up up into your seat”. This has already made an impact as she pointed to the car and said “go” along with several other new words in the “not noun” sector.

Here are the links I promised you:

Playing with Words 365

How to Help Your Child Talk

Strategies to Help Your Child Talk: Using Expansions and Extensions

Articulation Development

Common Phonological Process

Two Daloo

Language Basics

Children’s Books That Focus on Language Goals












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