Part of you gets so excited that your little bumpkin is talking so well, but there is that other side of you that gets exasperated every time your toddler will not stop chattering. Toddlers embrace life full-force, and learning to talk is a big part of that. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that one in ten to fifteen children have difficulty in speech or language comprehension so work with your toddler to develop a strong language foundation. Toddlers use the ever-ready “Why” question to engage you so use it to your benefit as a way to strength his language development.
Ask a running list of “Why” questions to make up a silly story with your child. Start with a simple questions like “Why is a tree green and not purple?” After she answers, prompt her to explain with another question such as, “Why do the birds not want to put their nests in purple trees?” At the end of your story, restate the whole story your child just came with adding up all the answer to your follow-up questions. Making her think up these answers really strengthens her imagination and helps her practice communicating ideas.
Playing dress up and pretending is a natural way for toddlers to learn and explore. Use this play time as a way to have him work on his language development. Dress him up as a doctor and use “why” questions to learn all about a doctor’s toy medical kit and job. Dressing up and playing fireman is a great way to go all over the house asking why a fireman would go there and do what he does. As he plays, encourage your toddler to share with you what he is doing and why he is doing it to.
Teach your child early that the best way to learn about the world around them is through books. With you as their guide, books can help your child think about words in a different way. Play a game with an interactive book using “why” questions. Board books or books made with pages of thicker cardboard are best for this since many times the words and illustrations are simpler and easier for a toddler. Many of these books use flaps or sides that will make a picture appear. Use these books to ask “why” questions about what your toddler sees on the page like “Why is the dog sniffing the bone?” or “Why does the little girl look sad?”
Toddlers love to imitate adults and many find toy cell phones a perfect way to be just like mom. Set up a “why” game using your cell phone and talk to your toddler on his cell phone. Take turns asking “why” questions and be prepared to be amazed at your toddler’s imagination. Try to keep the conversation going as long as you can by bringing the questions back to the original topic. Keep a list of “why” questions handy, as this telephone game is great to play in a car or while waiting in line.