Children learn to talk at different ages. Some utter their first intelligible words before they are one year old while others may not speak until they are over two. Generally, however, most children start to talk by eighteen months.The process of talking involves attending, listening, thinking, understanding, wanting and needing to speak. It also involves taking turns, as well as being able to co-ordinate all the right muscles for speech.Children must be encouraged to talk in the same way as they are encouraged to walk. And remember, they can understand what is being said long before they can use the words themselves.
The following are some tips to help your child to start talking
- Talk to her when you are playing together.
- Have fun with nursery rhymes and songs, especially those with actions.
- Encourage her to listen to different sounds (e.g. animals, airplanes, the ring of the doorbell).
- Gain her attention when you talk to her. Encourage her to look at you or at the object that you are talking about.
- Encourage her to communicate in other ways and not just through words.
- Use gestures and pictures.
- Give her choices. E.g. Do you want an orange or a banana?
- Talk about things as they happen. E.g. when changing her, watching television, unpacking the shopping.
- Listen carefully and give your child time to finish whatever she is saying. Take turns to speak.
- Help her to use more words by adding onto what she is saying. For e.g. when she says ‘ball’, you can add on with, ‘yes, it’s a ball and we can play with it.’
- If she says something incorrectly, say it back the correct way. However, do not force her to repeat the word(s).
- Dedicate a special time with her each day to play with toys and read picture books together.
- Don't expect too much too soon. Time will bring out the best in your child.
- Don't worry if she is not exactly at the same stage as your friend's child. Talking takes time – so don't hurry her.