So many things in your toddler’s life happens at lightening speed, he may start to talk quickly to keep up with his fast-paced world. If your child has started to do this, there are ways to help him slow his speech down a bit. You can incorporate various activities into his daily life to gently correct this habit.
Model Talking Speed
According to Temple University Stuttering Prevention Clinic, adults often speak very quickly, even if they don’t realize it, and young children try to match these speaking rates so they can converse with the adults. Speaking fluency is compromised when there is a time pressure. Get down to your toddler’s eye level. Talk to him in a slower voice and let one word flow into the next. Pause between sentences, as a normal speech break. Use simple, grammatical speech that your child can imitate. Allow your child to finish his sentences without interrupting.
Reading books to your toddler can help increase his vocabulary, learn correct speech pacing and how to structure sentences properly. Point out pictures and label them, or describe the objects you see. Ask him questions about the story. Use this time to talk slowly to your child and wait for his responses. Reading books throughout his childhood will help him strengthen his literacy skills, too.
You can use some verbal cues to help slow your toddler’s speech habits. Ask your child to slow down a bit or slowly repeat his previous statement so you can understand him better. This also shows him that you are truly interested in what he is saying. The Zero to Three website suggests offering supportive statements like, “I know you have a lot to say and want to get it all out. Please take your time and tell me what you want to say.” Ask your child one question at a time and allow him to answer before asking him another question. He may feel like he has to answer all of your questions at once.
Give It Time
Your toddler may be running on hyperspeed as part of his natural development -- everything is new and ready to be explored. Like any phase of development, this will usually pass on its own. Cut down your child’s time demands, like rigid schedules and routines, so he can take his time, enjoy each activity, and feel less pressured to get everything out quickly. If he still displays speech problems when he reaches kindergarten or if you are still concerned about his speech, contact a pediatric speech-language pathologist.
- Zero to Three: Behavior and Development Q & A
- Toddler Approved: Five Tips to Help Your Toddler Learn Language and Communicate
- Temple University Stuttering Prevention Clinic: Stuttering Prevention: A Manual for Parents
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: One to Two Years
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: Two to Three Years
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images