8 ways to help your child master sentences

Your little one has the basics of speech, but now it’s time to move on from ‘dadda’ to proper sentences. Here’s how you can help…

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Remember that magical moment when your tot uttered his first word? Seems like 
ages ago doesn’t it? Actually, since that day a few months ago things have moved on oh-so-quickly. He’s amassed a varied vocabulary and has all the words that are most useful to him day to day. Now it’s time to move on to holding simple conversations with a little bit of help from mummy and daddy.

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Try these tips to turn your babbler into a confident communicator…

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4% of babies haven’t spoken by three years old.

1) Social chit-chat

“Give your toddler plenty of opportunities to be around other adults and children as this will give him a chance to practise his talking skills,” says speech and language therapist Jude Dawson.

“But it’s important you don’t put him on the spot. Saying things like, ‘Tell grandma what we had for lunch’ may put him under pressure, especially if he’s feeling tired and unmotivated to talk. A simple statement like, ‘We had ham sandwiches for lunch,’ 
can be more effective, as then your toddler can decide whether or not he wants to join in the conversation.”

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2) Listen carefully

“Some parents think that if they talk continually to their toddler they’re doing the right thing,” says Jude. “But sometimes less is more. This is because a toddler needs extra time to process what you’re saying before he can respond. So make sure you pause often and wait to give him plenty of time to respond.”

When you’re having a conversation, try not to jump in too quickly either – as tempting as it is to finish your toddler’s sentences off for him, it won’t help him to improve. Remember a conversation is a two-way process.

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3) Follow the leader

 “One of the most effective ways parents can support their toddler’s communication skills is to let them take the lead,” says Jude. This means getting involved in whatever he’s doing but not taking over.

“If your toddler is leading the play he’s more likely to enjoy the activity, and he’ll be more motivated to talk about it,” adds Jude.

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mum chats seriously to toddler

4) Try something new

“When your little one already knows a word, like ball, for example, help him move his talking on by saying to him, ‘Shall we go and kick the ball?’” says Jude.

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“This way you’re building on something he already knows and introducing new 
ideas bit by bit.”

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