Should My Toddler Be Speaking Yet?
Your two and a half-year-old doesn’t have a very large vocabulary. Well, quite honestly, he only says about four words and doesn’t say any of them clearly. Does this sound familiar? You read all the books, most of which say that you should have your child placed in speech therapy because he is behind. However, your doctor and friends tell you to give him a little more time. Who’s right? Is it the childcare experts, who have devoted their lives to studying development in children? Is it your doctor, who has devoted his life to caring for children? Is it your friends, who have children of their own? It’s hard to say, but one thing is for sure – DON’T PANIC!
It’s okay. Your child isn’t going to be booted out of preschool, nor will he fail kindergarten because he didn’t start talking when most of the other kids his age did. Speech development happens at different times in different children. You should also keep in mind the gender of your child, as it is proven that boys tend to develop slower than girls, especially in areas such as speech.
However, there are things that you can do to help your child develop his speech before jumping into therapy. Repetition is a great tool. Use a handful of words, four or five, on a daily basis as much as you can, and within a few days, your child will more than likely be saying at least one. Another great idea is to simply encourage your child to speak. An easy way out is to give your child his cup of juice when he points to it and says, “Uhh.” However, instead of just giving in, try to encourage him to say “cup,” “juice,” “drink,” or whatever word you choose. Don’t expect him to spout out your new word immediately, but with encouragement and coaching each time he wants his cup, he may at least make an attempt at your chosen word. “Oose” for “juice” is better than “Uhh” for everything your child wants, don’t you think? Remember to also inform your child’s caregiver, if it is anyone other than yourself, to work with him.
If instead you choose to seek professional help for your child from the beginning, or if your child doesn’t show any improvement after working with him, just be sure that you find someone who is qualified. They should be capable of giving your child a proper speech evaluation and should also have experience in working with children at this stage and age. Also, don’t be surprised if, before you even show up for your first therapy session, your child starts to pop up with a new word every day.
Most children will speak when they are ready and willing, and this might mean going from only saying “Mama,” “Dada,” and “Bye-bye” today, to saying “Yes,” “Okay,” “Cup,” “Sister,” “Puppy,” and a whole hoard of new words by next week.