Communicating with your toddler (continued)

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3-4 years

At around this time your toddler will be talking freely and should have a clear voice. He'll imitate what he hears, so take a moment to listen to yourself. Am I sounding cross or tired? Am I shouting? Encourage him to talk quietly when granny's having a nap and remind him about 'please' and 'thank you'.

His vocabulary is growing fast but don't worry about 'difficult words'. The majority of those he encounters are new and equally difficult. Most children enjoy tongue twisters and, because of their supple facial muscles, can usually say them better than adults. Don't worry if your little one doesn't start talking at the same time as your friends' tots, children develop at different rates. If you're worried, speak to your health visitor and, if necessary, arrange a hearing test.

What you can do

  • Ask him to describe what he sees, then explain what he's seen.
  • Let him take the lead: 'Mummy's tired, can you tell me a story?'
  • Take turns in listening and speaking so he'll learn the give and take of conversation.
  • Share mealtimes as a family as this boosts confidence and sociability.

Continued below...

Simple exercises to help your little one get it right

  • Small children often substitute 'fing' for 'thing'. Encourage your little one to put his tongue between his teeth and blow: 'See if you can make the feather move.'
  • Lisping, 'thith' instead of 'this'. Get him to put his tongue behind the teeth and pretend to be a snake. 'Sssss!'
  • 'Wabbit' instead of 'rabbit'. Encourage him to put his tongue behind his top teeth to make the 'r' sound in 'Is my cat purrrrrring?

Further information

  • For a speech therapist, contact the Association of Speech and Language Therapists:
  • The English Speaking Board promotes and assesses spoken English:

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  1. 1. Communicating with your toddler
  1. 2. Communicating with your toddler (continued)

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