The most difficult part of answering a “wh” questions is actually knowing the meaning of the “wh” word. For instance, you have to know that “who” is asking for a person, “where” is asking for a place, “what” is asking for a thing, “when” is referring to a time, and “why” is asking for a reason. “When” and “where” may still be too complicated for this age, but it’s always good to throw it in here and there.
When talking about “who” you can stick to basic things like looking through a photo album to label family members names or you can make it harder as in “Who drives a bus?”. Visual support is always welcome at this age and can be in the form of pictures, illustrations in books, videos, etc. And remind them that “who” is asking for a person.
As for “what”, it could be as simple as asking “What is this?” while using a flashcard, reading a book, etc. This usually only encourages a one-word response since it is not open-ended. You can make it slightly more complicated by saying “What do you see?”, “What do you need?”, etc. This allows for them to use a start phrase such as “I see a duck”. You can then go onto more difficult questions such as “What does a cow say?”, “What do you wear when it’s hot?”
When referring to “where” they have to know that you are asking about a place, so we find that when you’re walking down the street, driving, etc. it is helpful to talk about where you are going. You can even talk about the immediate here and now and ask “Where are you right now?” (e.g. – at home, in the car, in the stroller, etc.). It also gradually helps them understand concepts that are not tangible such as “Where is daddy?” (e.g. – work, on a business trip, etc.) – actual pictures of daddy at his workplace would also be great!
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!
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! 😉
Your toddler is becoming very aware of his surroundings and people around him. You can use it as a chance to really connect with people and things by giving compliments. For instance, Roman has started complimenting our hair saying “hair nice”.
You can target things such as artwork and verbally model phrases such as “pretty picture”. If a girl is wearing a pretty dress you can model “cute dress”. If a friend is playing with a fun new toy you can say “cool new truck”. This now only will make others feel happy, but will also make your toddler start thinking about the power of their words.
And it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone or something that someone has made or has. It could be things that you see in nature. Let’s say you’re taking a walk you can talk about a tree by saying “Wow that’s a beautiful tall tree!”. There are tons of possibilities, so go ahead and make someone’s day!
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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Have you noticed that your child recently thinks everything is theirs and will often say “mine” or something similar such as “me” or “my”. It’s definitely early for learning a variety of pronouns, but you can begin with the difference between “mine” and “yours” to make your child aware that items also belong to other people. It the beginning of sharing and empathy!
To start you can show them things that are certainly theirs such as their straw cup, bib, blanket, stuffed animal, etc. and encourage their production of “mine”. Talk about how that is “your blankie”. Then present them with items that they associate with you such as your phone, jacket, shoes, etc. and say “mine”.
You can then talk to them about “yours” by using the same objects for both of you. For instance, if you are both holding ice cream cones you can say “mine” and then “yours” by pointing at the ice cream cones. The more they understand this concept the less likely they will be upset if they do not get to use your computer or phone when you are working from home or just writing a simple email!
We recently had a blog post about first toddler phrases. Another common toddler phrase includes the word “me, “my” or “mine”. Toddlers are of course very egocentric and their whole world is centered around themselves! Me me me! Therefore, it makes sense as to why one of their first words is usually “me”, “my” or “mine”.
Once your child produces “me, “my” or “mine”, it’s a great word to build upon to produce basic 2-3 word phrases. We advise parents to start with desirable items such as a toy or bottle. For instance, my son loves horses, so in that case I would pretend to take his horse or withhold it to give him a chance to say “my horse”. You can also model a phrase by taking something and saying it’s yours.
Once they get the concept you can go onto other opportunities. For instance, it could be things that they need like “shoes”. When you go outside, you can hold their shoes and give them a chance to say “my shoes”. You can even show them yours and say “mommy’s shoes” or “daddy’s shoes”. You can also use it with their favorite people such as “my mommy”. There are endless ways to teach 2-3 word phrases.
Read our article on Big City Moms – ‘10 Tip for a Successful Mealtime‘
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