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Kids and Teens

How to develop a child’s speech

The purpose of this page is to provide information and guidance to parents and caregivers on how to help their child’s speech and language development. The booklet describes the stages of early speech and language development that occur between the ages of 12 and 24 months. Its goal is to assist you to understand your child’s developmental stage and what activities you can perform to promote and support further development.

If you have any questions or concerns about any of the material provided, we recommend that you contact your child’s speech and language therapist.

Talking

Your child may begin to create strings of sounds like’maba, gana’ near the end of the first year or the beginning of the second, where the second consonant is different from the first. He or she may begin to use gestures such as pointing to what he or she wants, shaking his or her head to indicate “no,” or waving “bye bye.”

He or she may begin to say words like “mama” and “dada.” The noises are more melodic and rhythmical, and they last longer, so your child’s vocalizations may sound more like real talking at this stage. Your child will also start to use his or her voice to call attention to himself or herself or to make a demand.

The age at which a youngster begins to speak for the first time varies dramatically. Once your youngster has produced one or two meaningful words, he or she may begin to utilize them on a regular basis. A dog, or any other four-legged animal, for example, may always be a ‘woof!’ at first.

Understanding

Your child will soon be able to understand a variety of single words and simple questions accompanied by gestures – such as ‘where is daddy?’ – as well as obey simple one-step commands – such as ‘bring me your teddy’.

When he or she sees specific objects or hears familiar words, he or she will begin to understand his or her daily routines and begin to anticipate ordinary everyday activities. Dinnertime, for example, maybe signaled by the words ‘dinner’ or ‘meal, tasty,’ as well as the presence of a spoon, plate, or bottle. When requested, your child will begin to correlate the names of objects with the objects themselves and may bring you a familiar object from another room, such as a shoe.

At this point, your child will become interested in hearing your name body parts, such as the eyes or the stomach, and will begin to point to them when they are mentioned. Each week, he or she will most likely learn a few new words. To communicate his needs, your child will like jumping, laughing, kicking, throwing, tugging, pushing away, and pointing. If aided by an adult, he or she will now be able to maintain interest in a book or pictures for two or more minutes.

The Second Year: What you can do

Taking in the sounds

Continue to introduce new sounds to your child and always explain and demonstrate what makes the sound – for example, “that’s the doorbell ringing.” Introduce your youngster to symbolic sounds, such as ‘uh-oh’ when you drop something or’miaow’ when he or she sees a real cat or a picture of one.

Switching roles

As your child begins to understand and obey instructions, such as ‘give me the vehicle,’ turn it into a game of giving and receiving. Play activities that need you to take turns, such as rolling a ball to each other.

Sound amplification

Continue to introduce new noises to your youngster, and always explain and demonstrate what generates the sound – for example, “that’s the doorbell ringing.” Introduce your youngster to symbolic sounds, such as ‘uh-oh’ when you drop something and miaow when he or she sees a real or an image of a cat.

Iteration

As your youngster begins to understand and obey instructions, such as “give me the vehicle,” turn it into a game of giving and receiving. Play games that need you to take turns, such as passing a ball between you.

Allow your youngster to use the terms he or she has learned as many times as possible. Keep his or her favorite toy out of reach but visible, for example, and encourage him or her to ‘ask’ for a teddy before you fetch it. Even if your child’s speech is not clear or if he or she does not say the word perfectly, acknowledge and reward his or her attempt in speaking.

‘Would you like more spaghetti?’ you can ask if your child looks at his or her plate and says ‘Getty.’ In second grade, children frequently do not talk clearly. A persistent problem, on the other hand, may necessitate the help of a speech and language therapist.

All content on this site, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be regarded as purely personal opinions. Always get direct medical counsel from your own doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your own health or the health of others.

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