Encouraging Your Toddler to Communicate with Words

Learning to talk is an important developmental milestone in your child’s life. As parents, we are often anxious for our children to start talking. We try to encourage them to talk by asking questions such as “What are you doing”? or “What colour is the crayon”? Some parents will try to command their children to talk with instructions such as “say dog” or “say ball”.

What is the problem with this strategy?

Answering questions or following commands is not very tempting for children. A child who is just learning to talk may also become upset if they are bombarded with questions. They may learn to imitate language and say “dog” but they won’t learn the value of communication and how to maintain social interactions. Most importantly, this strategy teaches our kids to be the “responders” in a conversation.

How do we teach our children to communicate effectively?

Communication temptations teach children to be “initiators” of the communication process. These strategies work because they allow children to think and react to their environment.

If a child is not speaking yet, these strategies will help facilitate communication skills. They are also great for building vocabulary, teaching grammar, and building longer sentences.

How To Use Communication Temptations:

Here are some easy communication temptation strategies you can use with your children:

Start and Wait

  • Give your  child a colouring book but no crayons and wait
  • Blow bubbles for your child once, then close the lid and wait
  • Show your child a desired food that is out of reach and waitThe Power of Silliness
  • Pretend you can’t find something that your child can clearly see.
  • Put your socks on your hands or your hat on your feet.
  • Give your child a bowl of food but “forget” to give them a spoon to eat with.

Bit By Bit

  • Give your child a little piece of cookie. Let him/her ask for “more”.
  • Build a tower with blocks and be the “keeper” of the blocks. Give your child one
  • block at a time to increase requesting opportunities.

In the early stages of communication, don’t expect perfection. If your child says “m” for “more”, praise them for trying, imitate the word, and reward them! The most important thing is for children to understand the importance of communication and to enjoy the process.

Does Learning Two Languages Cause Speech Delay?

Canada is a wonderful mosaic of different cultures, traditions, and languages. According to the statistics from 2012, Canadians speak over 140 languages other than English and French. This means a lot of people have questions about teaching their children a second or third language. Since there are so many myths about bilingualism, let’s take some time and talk about them.

Speech Therapy Pickering

First, the facts!

FACT# 1:  The world is becoming increasingly multilingual.

In Canada, 30% of the population speaks a language other than English and French in the home. Worldwide, there is a slightly higher number of bilingual children than monolingual children. Bilingualism is a norm!


FACT # 2: Learning two languages is beneficial! 

Consider this: Research has found that bilingual children have a better attention span, are better at problem solving activities, and are more creative than their monolingual peers. Bilingualism has also been found to delay the onset of dementia by 4 years!


FACT # 3: Bilingual children can have the same speech delays as children who learn one language. 

Bilingualism doesn’t necessarily cause language delay but it doesn’t protect from delays or disorders either. If you are concerned that your child has an underlying speech or language disorder, it is important to get it checked right away.


Now, some myths surrounding bilingualism. 

Myth # 1: Growing up with more than one language is confusing for children. 

False. This was a very prevalent misconception in the past and many therapists and teachers encouraged parents drop their native language. However, we now know that even as early as 6 months, children can tell the difference between two different languages. They are not going to confuse two languages even if they are taught both at the same time.


Myth # 2: Bilingualism causes speech delay.  

While some children who learn two languages at once take a little bit longer to start talking, this delay is temporary and bilingual children catch up to their monolingual peers very quickly. Even if a child has been diagnosed with a speech delay, exposing him/her to two languages will not make speech any more delayed

Now that we have separated fact from fiction about bilingualism, we want to know what you think. Do you think it’s a good idea to learn two languages? Have you ever been told bilingualism causes speech delay?

Share your stories in the comment box below!


Importance of Family Centered Speech Therapy

Some things are common sense. Speech therapy that focuses on the family is just one of them!

speech therapy toronto

In the past, therapists used traditional approaches to speech therapy. This meant that the therapist decided the goals and how to work on them. Parents, caregivers, and the client had little to no say in the therapy process. In recent years, doctors, speech therapists, and educators have begun to realize how important the family really is. Afterall, the family knows the client better than anyone else.

In Canada and around the world, Family Centered Service (FCS) is starting to gain popularity. The question is, what does family centered care involve?

  • Family Centered Care is an approach that focuses on providing support to children with special needs and their families
  • FCS accounts for the fact that each family is unique and has its own goals and needs
  • The family is the focus of the therapy and is intimately involved in all decisions made during the therapy process.
  • Support, education, and resources are provided to the family so they can also become “experts” and help the client on a daily basis

What are the benefits of a Family Centered Approach to Speech Therapy?

  1. therapy is more effective – better outcomes for child & higher family satisfaction
  2. family has increased knowledge about child’s development
  3. family feels more confident with child’s communication abilities
  4. client has a better support system on a long-term basis

As therapists, it is our goal to provide therapy that is effective and beneficial for our clients. A family centered approach to therapy allows us to empower not only the client, but the family as well.


Thoughts? Ideas? Comment Below!


Corks, I. (2004, June 14). The Case for Family Centered Approach: A Best Practice Approach for special needs children. Retrieved November 18, 2012.