Toddler Toddler Development Helping Your Toddler Speak Properly Brought to you by Suzanne Dixon M.D., M.P.H. Learning language and how to pronounce words is a big job for a child. Find out how you can help encourage your toddler’s speech development. We all want to help our children develop language. Luckily, there are many ways to pitch in. Here are a few tips: Talk to her. The "denser" her language environment, the more she'll learn. Narrate everything you do together. Use correct grammar, not "baby talk." The best way for her to learn proper speech is to hear good examples on a regular basis. Ask questions. She'll want to answer, which will push her to get the words out. Plus, she'll learn to expect back-and-forth conversations. That, in turn, will lead to her own "why" and "where" questions ("how" and "when" come later). Name the things in your child's world. Help her learn them by repeating words clearly and plainly. Emphasize verbs. They're often more difficult to learn than names and other nouns. Use emphasis wisely. Use your voice to point out specific words and call your child's attention to their meaning. She'll know by your tone, slower pace and pauses that you're doing it for her, and her ears will perk right up. Use gestures. Be an actor ¾ your "performances" will help, not hinder, your child's ability to learn about words. Be a little tough. Prompt your child, and gently demand that he use words to get what he wants. If you think he's able to express himself more clearly, make a mistake on purpose. For example, give him water in the red cup when you know he wanted the blue one. Give him a chance to tell you what you're getting wrong. Respond to what you think he means (not the specifics of what he actually says). Repeat his phrases with correct pronunciation and form, but don't make him correct himself. He'll do it on his own if he has a good model to from whom to learn. Read to him. Hearing stories improves your child's language skills. Don't be surprised if he "reads" with you as he learns familiar tales by heart. Ask your child to narrate the events of his life. Help him fill in gaps and make transitions. Getting ideas connected is a big deal now. Conversations about past and future events will be the next step.