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.
Oh boy!! Have you entered the Terrible Twos yet? We have here! Yes it might be early, but we are in the depths of it. Crying, screaming, hitting, laying yourself on the ground – you name it. It’s actually a very natural phase. Although we see it as negative behavior, it is really more a phase for your toddler to use their voice, gauge their power, and see what they can get away with.
We like to think of the first step in speech and language fashion. Let’s say you see your child gradually becoming upset and you want to try to prevent it from escalating. You can start off by saying “I know you’re feeling sad Johnny took the toy from you. Why don’t we go over there and try to ask for it back? And then once you play with it for 5 minutes we can give him a turn”.
If you see the behavior getting out of control what we often like to do is to take him away from the situation to get the attention off. At this point we feel that ignoring works best (making sure they are not hurting themselves of course).
Once they calm down (it make take 5-10 or more minutes!), we always find that praising them for good behavior such as keeping their body calm, calming down, keeping their hands down, standing up, etc. is the way to go. Keep it simple while using positive language such as “Good keeping your feet down!”. This way you are reinforcing positive behavior and not negative behavior. Different techniques of course work for different children, but in our case we’ve seen the explanation of feelings in the beginning greatly diminish negative behavior. We wish you all the luck in the world! 😉
Can you believe it? You’re child is almost two! We decided to concentrate on mealtime milestones this week since a lot more is expected of your child at this point. In terms of texture, they should now be able to eat all textures including: purees, soft chewables, ground lump purees, and more chewable foods. Tougher solids are expected after 24 months.
As for oral-motor skills, your child should now exhibit rotary chewing instead of diagonal chewing. Lateral tongue action should be visible. They should have also mastered straw drinking. Overall, you should observe a decrease in food intake by 24 months.
When it comes to motor skills, their pincer grasp should be refined and they should be past finger feeding. You now want them to grasp the spoon with their whole hand and independently feed themselves by scooping food and brining it to their mouth. All in all, you should see increased control of utensils. As you can see, mealtime and fine motor skills are highly intertwined.
And of course to limit pickiness, have your child eat meals with the whole family and most importantly have them eat what you’re eating. If they are hesitant, have them explore the food with their senses (e.g. – touching it with their fingers). The more they are exposed to different foods the better! So if salmon and cabbage salad is on the menu, it’s also what’s for dinner for your child!
It’s never too early to start learning about chores and how to help out in the house!Now that your child is getting better at following directions feel free to intertwine basic “chores” into the daily routine.
It could be as simple as cleaning up. From an early age we started the clean up song even when he did not speak just so he got used to the melody and words. At this point you can sing it along with them and see if they hum along or imitate any of the words. Just hearing the song will trigger cleaning up after playtime or even mealtime. Once they get used to the routine they will begin cleaning up on their own, sometimes even singing the song all by themselves!
Specific directions you can give is “Give me your cup/plate/fork and let’s put it in the sink” (they most likely cannot reach yet even with a step stool, but it’s good to practice), “Put your ____ in the dishwasher”, “Throw it in the garbage”, “Go get me a paper towel”, “Put your socks away” (or any clothing), “Walk the dog”, etc. We even found working on colors while doing laundry is an excellent receptive language task (e.g. – dark vs. light or putting all the red socks together).
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