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4 Ways to Help Your Child Start Talking

Speech Sisters
April 1, 2022

Let’s face it, sometimes our eagerness and enthusiasm can get in the way. We want our kids to learn, but our quest for instant results can backfire! We're here to help your child start talking.

What do we do when we want to teach a new word, such as ball? Well, most likely it sounds like this: “Say ball!” “Say ball!”

Sound familiar? This is the natural way that we teach our little ones to say a name, an object or a greeting: “Say Mama!” “Say bye-bye!” “Say eat!

We use this method A LOT! 😬 But guess what? This approach can actually give the opposite result. But don’t worry, we have a better idea! Sounds crazy, but try to stop telling your child to say this and say that. Yep, you heard it right—STOP telling your child to say this or that.

WHY? Sometimes telling your child exactly what to say can have the reverse effect, and your toddler may say nothing at all! He may not like being put on the spot.

So instead of putting pressure on him by telling him to “Say water,” try this to help your child start talking:

1. Repeat the target word 3-5 times in an unhurried way, like this:

“You want WATER.” “WATER.” “Pour WATER.” “Here is your WATER.” “Drink the WATER.”

2. Use play to make learning fun.

You want to teach your child to say “dog.” Find a stuffed animal or toy dog and hide it behind your back. Play peek-a-boo several times! Now is the time for your enthusiasm to shine!

“Where’s the dog?” “HERE’S the dog!” “Peek-a-boo, dog!” “I see the dog!” “Woof! Woof! He’s a nice dog!”

Keep your language simple. It’s easier for your child to learn!

Here are a few more tips on how to minimize the tendency to say, “Say THIS!”

3. Give your child a choice.

“Do you want the apple? Or the banana?” “Apple?” Hold it in one hand.

“Or banana?” Hold it in the other hand.

“Do you want the red apple? Or the yellow banana?”

“Here you go. . . here’s the APPLE!”

4. Speak slowly.

There’s no need to hurry! Speak slowly! It will be easier for your little one to understand and remember.

Are you guilty of saying, “SAY _____”? I know I am! I encourage parents to minimize this, but dang, it’s a hard habit to break!

We highlight this tip and others in our Online Course, Time to Talk: Toddler Course. In this course we teach the exact strategies we would use if we were coming into your home and working with you and your child!

To recap: Avoid these 4 things when trying to get your toddler to talk:

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Commanding “SAY”

Sometimes telling your child exactly what to SAY can have the reverse effect. Your child may not like being put on the spot, so INSTEAD of putting talking pressure on your child and telling them to “SAY _____,” repeat the target word 3-5 times in an unhurried way.

Talking too much

You might think you’re supposed to talk to your child a lot for them to learn. Well, yes, this is true, but not all talking is created equal! Simplify your language when talking to your little one; they will learn more language when you do!

Talking too fast

Your baby or toddler may not pick up as much language when you speak too quickly. Slow down and keep it simple!


Toddlers don’t like being pressured to talk. Learn how to speak with your child with the intent to build their language in our online course, Time to Talk: Toddler Course.

Download our guide 5 Things to Stop Doing to Get Your Child to Start Talking.

To learn simple and effective strategies to help get your little one talking, check out our Talk on Track (newborn-14 months) and Time to Talk: Toddler Course (15-36 months). We’d love to equip you to experience the joy of your little one talking to you!

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