Solution: Repeat them. Exactly. Word for word. Do not attempt to vary your response. Do not attempt to repeat them and then add on a normal response. Do not try to repeat them in a different tone of voice. Simply parrot exactly what they have said back to you. "I cried about the yellow couch yesterday, mama."
Correct response: "You cried about the yellow couch yesterday, baby."
Incorrect 1: "Yes, you did cry about the yellow couch yesterday."
Incorrect 2: "You cried about the yellow couch yesterday, but today you are happy."
Incorrect 3: "Yes, we shouldn't cry over the yellow couch, should we?"
Another important component of this solution is that you cannot fake it. If you cannot understand each word clearly, attempt repetitions until you can figure it out. They'll not accept this for example: "I love me sugar bowl, mama," if they've said, "I love my spiky ball, mama." Even if you say the words you cannot understand exactly as the child has said them...they know. So that I can't get away with "You need ooney ceecee" if she means, "I need honey cereal."
Young toddlers are still unsure of their conversational prowess. By repeating them, it may not seem as if you are forwarding their conversational skills because that's not how real conversation works. But you are forwarding their skills by giving them confidence in their words. By repeating them exactly, they are reassured that you heard and understood them, which is a cornerstone of conversation. With toddlers, it's all about the basics.
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