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Sounding It Out

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In order to speak, your child needs motor coordination in his mouth, tongue, throat, and even his lungs. No wonder it takes years to put it all together just right! Some sounds are predictably hard for kids this age, so don't worry or criticize if your toddler makes a few mistakes.

Here are a few sounds that often trip up toddlers:

  • Blends such as "th," "sp," "bl," and "dr."
  • The "r" and "l" distinction. English speakers probably won't really get this right until age 5; for other language groups, the two sounds may never be separate.
  • The "v" sound. Look for this to show up in car and truck sound effects before your child uses it in actual words.

FYI: Don't scold your child for stuttering — at this age it's expected. In these early years, your child's mind is going faster than his mouth, so his words tumble out or get in the way of one another. You can help him by urging him to slow down and by guessing at his meaning. If he's still stuttering or stumbling over language when he enters kindergarten, tell your health care provider.

 


 
 
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Many parents worry about their child's language development: "Is she on track?" "How can I help him learn?" "Will he be left behind?" But the truth is, you don't need flashcards or fancy electronic "teaching toys" to help children learn language. You just need to talk with them.
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Is your child making some big language leaps right now (and talking your ear off)? Between 30 and 36 months, children may start to construct sentences of four or five words, tell stories, and ask 'what' and 'where' questions. Learn more.
Read Talking a Blue Streak: Language and Your Toddler