Everything is “I I I I” and the world revolves around them. When they finally get the concept of “I” and that it is actually them they will start commenting on their actions like no other!
We find it often happens with things that “go wrong”. For instance, if something broke they may say “I broke” or if they’re falling they say “I falling”. Use any opportunity to comment on what you are doing, so they begin to understand the concept. If you are cooking, you can say “I’m cutting”, “I’m mixing”, etc.
A great way to get longer “I” statements out of them is asking questions such as “What are you doing” or “Tell me about what you’re doing” to keep it open-ended. It may lead to “I eating yogurt” or “I playing Legos” – and hopefully one day “I giving Mommy a massage!” 😉 And it doesn’t always have to be an action… you can move onto feelings or attributes such as “I sad” or “I have blue eyes”.
This will later lead to the concept of “you” as you keep talking about what you are doing at the moment and what they are doing such as “I am reading” and “You are playing”. It is also helpful to point to who you are talking about so it becomes more visual. Have fun teaching pronouns!
Your child has come to a point where they can play independently and it is time for them to join their play with words. At first, they may be labeling objects they’re picking up or see. Let’s say they’re in their play kitchen and they say “banana”. You can expand on it by creating a phrase “Let’s PEEL the banana”. Emphasize novel words and unique parts of a phrase to allow it to stand out to your child.
It’s all about input they are receiving. The more verbal modeling that you provide during play, everyday errands, etc. the more likely they are to start narrating their own actions. Feel free to initiate structured play with them. For instance, grab a tea set and start setting it up by saying phrases such as “Here’s a plate”. Then, take the teapot and say “Pouring tea”, pretend to drink it and say “Drinking tea” or “Wow! It’s hot!”, etc.
Another alternative is to chime in when they have already initiated play with an item on their own. “Oh the car is going up up up the garage!”, “The car needs gas!”, “We’re driving fast!”, etc. They do not have to repeat everything you are saying, but you are giving their actions words and meaning. You are also adding new vocabulary to their repertoire. For example, they may already know “car”, but “gas” might be a new word. To give it extra meaning, talk about getting gas when you’re actually at the gas station. Real life situations will encourage them to make more connections and make them more apt to using new words and longer phrases when on their own.
By this time your toddler is really getting a handle of basic body parts such as eyes, nose, mouth, legs, etc. It’s a perfect time to build on that during play. For instance, you can use it while playing a game of tickling, modified Simon Says, or our favorite pretend play with a doctor kit.
A medical kit contains a ton of items such as a bandaid, stethoscope, needle, thermometer, etc. and it gives your child a chance to act out a familiar routine. If your child is labeling individual body parts, you can use the pretend play to expand to 2-3 word phrases. If you’re focused on your nose you can say “Uh Oh! Nose (is) broken!” or “Oh no! (My) nose hurts! Many children find it funny when “something goes wrong”, so the language will stand out to them!
Later on, you can expand work on more advanced body parts such as “elbow” and requesting specific items such as “shot”. It’s also a way to work on initiating questions such as “Are you okay?”, “What hurts?”, “What happened?”, etc. You can even work on commenting using temperature such as “You feel hot”. It even works on the skills of empathy and how others could be feeling. All in all, it’s a great way to expand their imagination and may even make them less scared of going to the real doctor!
Do you hear your toddler producing /s/ with their tongue out? It’s never too early to model the correct production and try to correct it. Lisps are often very difficult to correct as a child gets older, so our motto is the earlier the better!
This part is too complicated for toddlers, but just so you know as an adult we produce the /s/ sound by putting our tongue tip on the alveolar ridge (bumpy ridge right behind our top teeth). You can show a toddler this by having them look at you or looking at a mirror while you overemphasize the sound to try to show them where their tongue goes. Sometimes we even like to use a tongue depressor or our finger to show them where our bumpy ridge is – for older children we even put a little bit of peanut butter on the spot so they know where their tongue is supposed to touch.
As for the manner in which the sound is produced it is called a fricative, which means it is a “hissing” type sound and air escapes through the teeth causing friction. One thing you can do which works with my toddler is bringing your teeth together or telling them to bite down while producing /s/. This may sound a bit exaggerated, but it makes sure their tongue does not come out.
Many other articulation errors are age-appropriate and can be categorized into phonological processes or patterns, but it is definitely important to keep an eye out and always model correct production. These issues sometimes grow into articulation disorders (which later may manifest themselves into problems with reading and writing) and you want your child to be understood by all listeners and to be able to form friendships easily.
We have two resources if you need further help. Our interactive iBooks: Vowels & Diphthongs and our Consonants iBook.
The world is an exciting place and it comes with lots of feelings for little ones (and adults), so we have to make sure we give them a voice to talk about how they feel. For instance, my son is starting to get the concept of “scary” if it’s a ghost, lion, etc. and he will comment saying phrases such as “ghost scary”.
We recommend starting off with basic feelings such as happy vs. sad. You can practice smiling and frowning in front of the mirror and labeling the feelings with one word. We also started by looking at pictures of babies in Mrs. Mustard’s Baby Feelings book and our Baby Feeling ibook since they are clear depictions of happy vs. sad. We also talked about feelings while watching videos or television shows to make screen time an interactive experience.
You can also talk about feelings as they happen since this is the prime age for tantrums! For instance, if someone took their toy away you can label the feeling with a sentence such as “I know that makes you feel SAD”. As they get the hang of it, you can add more complicated feelings in such as excited, scary, surprised, etc. They love imitating your facial expressions and even pretending! For instance, you can do role-play with dinosaurs and pretend to hide under a blanket or pillows to pretend to be very scared! Targeting feelings through story time and art are also fantastic ways to go over feelings and using that starter phrase “I feel ____”, “She feels ____”, “He feels ____”, “They feel ____”, etc. Have a HAPPY day! ☺
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