Encouraging toddlers to speak more clearly

2 December 2015
 Categories: , Blog


Anyone who regularly cares for children knows how frustrated kids can become if their carers cannot easily understand their requests. Here are some tips to help your toddlers to speak more clearly.

Calm down

It can be easy to get worked up yourself, especially if your toddler is in full meltdown tantrum mode. It's important to keep in mind that it is not developmentally normal for toddlers to make all sounds clearly yet. By relaxing and helping your child to seek out alternative words for what they are trying to say in the moment, you can often work through the issue in the short term so that you can work on any speech issues when everyone is calmer.

Break it down

Many toddlers enjoy making animal noises. If you find that you toddlers have certain syllables that they can clearly enunciate, but others that they cannot, then it's a good idea to break them down and continue to practice saying the single syllables clearly. Often the strongest sounds are long vowels (moo, baa, meow etc.) so practicing some less common sounds such as a buzzing bee, a hissing snake and a chirping grasshopper not only focus on the starting sound but also the ending sounds of words. After pull, push, pool and poo can all sound similar if you don't have the right end sound enunciated, and each require a very different response from an adult carer!

Try to focus on making this a fun game during calm times to help build endurance, muscle strength and memory, which can be used during more emotional times.

Slow it down

If you find that your toddlers speak clearly when they are using single syllables, but struggle when they need to string together longer sentences, this is often a sequencing issue. This occurs when they need to move the muscle control in the speech system between different parts of the throat and tongue. Even relatively simple words such as "one" require a complex movement combining jaw movement, tongue movement and lip control. If your toddler is struggling with the transitions between these types of movements, it can lead to unclear speech and dropped sounds.

The easiest way to help this issue it to get the toddler to slow down, to give them more time to make each transition fully.

If your toddler has speech that is much below developmental norms and doesn't respond to your efforts at home, then it can be valuable to get an assessment from a professional paedatric speech pathologist from a company like communiKIDS.