Talk to kids as often as possible to encourage speech development.
You've probably been dreaming of your child being able to speak to you since you first laid eyes on that adorable mouth. Some kids speak a bit later than others, but there are ways to encourage your child to learn to talk or to improve her vocabulary. Keep in mind, though, that there is no "back" button, and by the time you're done marveling over your little sweetie's new grasp of language, the lectures about not talking back to Mommy or not using dirty words are likely to begin.
1Ask your child lots of questions. Open-ended questions that require more than a simple yes or no are best for encouraging speech. For instance: "Which story should we read?" "Do you want to go to the park or to the library?" "What do you think is going to happen next in this movie?" Encourage her to answer, and even if you don't understand much of what she's saying, it's still good practice for her to try. Also encourage her to ask questions. Even if you feel like your head might explode if you have to answer the same question again for the tenth time this week, keep answering and she'll keep talking.
2Label objects so that your child knows what things are called. While this can make you sound repetitive and annoying -- even to yourself -- it can help your young child develop his vocabulary. So while you're driving in the car or walking to day care, point out birds, churches, stores, cars, whatever you see right in front of you. Use descriptive words -- like "little bird," "slimy worms," "blue house" -- and he'll start to get the idea.
3Keep up a constant dialogue with your child. Even if he's a toddler and you're not sure how much he understands, talk about the weather, what you're going to do that day, which holidays are coming up, why you're dressing him in certain clothing. "You have to wear your winter jacket today because it's so cold out!" Use simple words, but refrain from baby talk, which models poor speech for your child -- and tends to annoy other adults.
4Read to your child. If he develops an early love of books, he already has a head start on speech and literacy. Reading to kids teaches them new words and letters and provides more opportunity for conversation. Ask your tot who her favorite story character is, what she thinks is going to happen next in the story and ask her to point out objects on each page of the book, like animals or colors.
- If your child has reached about 2 years old and is still not speaking at all, consider having him evaluated by his pediatrician. Some children just start speaking a bit later than others, but in some cases it can indicate an underlying problem, so it's best to have the situation monitored if you're concerned.