Promoting positive communication and language development in toddlers is highly important. Language is a means to express one’s own behaviour and emotions and those of others. Language plays a crucial role in enabling children to understand, encode, organise, and retrieve rules that contribute to emotional and behavioural regulation. Children who are able to say, ‘‘I am mad’’ or ‘‘I am sad,’’ are more likely to gain the support and understanding of adults than those who throw temper tantrums or become violent. Temper tantrums are common in preverbal children. When a toddler lashes out, they are telling you in the only way they know how that something is bothering them.
Children see their worlds as their own
Temper tantrums are common in children ages 2-4, and sometimes beyond. At these ages, the toddlers’ view of the world is egocentric. It is all about what they want and when they want it, and how they can get it. This egocentricity coupled with difficulty with expressive and receptive language will often cause the toddler to become frustrated, which in turn may leads to a tantrum. At times, the child’s receptive ability to understand complex sentence structure but only being able to reciprocate in two-to three word phrases can lead to even more frustration.
The onset of verbal communication is a turning point for toddlers as it:
- Enables a fluent and better communication of wishes, views, and intentions
- Has a significant impact on their thinking, learning, and social relationships
- Helps organize their perceptions, sharpen their memories, and learn about their world
- Also provides a personal function by helping them express and regulate their emotions, organize their behaviour, and understand their experiences
Once your toddler starts to acquire and develop language, they begin to discuss their emotions with you and, in turn, you can help them constructively deal with negative emotions by talking about them. These supportive conversations facilitate children’s capacity to devise their own strategies to regulate their emotions. Keeping this in mind, here’s how you can begin to enhance your child’s communication at home.
Don’t just point and grunt
Children are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. While it may be easier for a child to point at a toy and coo at it, and it’s easy for us as parents and caretakers to simply hand it over to them, a simple exercise will help stimulate conversation. Simply saying, “tell me (or mummy or daddy) what it is that you want,” may encourage your child to verbally communicate.
It’s okay to play dumb
Every once in a while, it’s okay to play dumb or pretend that you don’t understand your child’s non-verbal language means. We may understand that words like “num num” means “I’m hungry!” and it will be easier to give your child food, however in order to develop your toddler’s speech, ask them what they mean. Don’t underestimate your toddlers; sometimes asking for a clarification is the push they need to get their communication going.
We often get many questions from parents about how to encourage positive speech and effective communication at home. Every week, we hold sessions and talks for parents on how they can translate positive communication into practice. It is also a safe and open space to share ideas and common and not-spSpots are always open, so please give us a call.