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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 58: Getting Them to Shut Up

Problem: The title sounds a little harsh, but if your toddlers are anything like mine, they talk your ear off. They talk and talk and talk, and it's not passive conversation where they're content to babble at you, nor is it regular conversation wherein they understand that they are supposed to say something and then you are supposed to reply, bringing new content to the flow. That will only confuse and upset them. They'll think you aren't understanding them and freak out. So how do you hold a toddleresque conversation without your partner breaking down into tears?

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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  1. Both of my kids are non-stop talkers, I'll have to try this and see what happens!

    Thanks so much for joining us for Friendly Friday this week, have a great weekend!

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  3. My two year old is parroting everything his daddy and I say and there are times when I have absolutely no clue what he is saying. His vocabulary is so broad now I just don't understand sometimes. Good advice.

    By the way I am a new follower from the Weekend Social. I'd love for you to stop by sometime.

    Heather From and Mommy Only Has 2 Hands!

  4. Good point, I think they learn the correct pronunciation quicker if they hear you repeat those words.

  5. I wonder if this would work on my soon to be five year old who is behind on her speaking skills. She might think it a game and keep repeating X100

  6. My kids will often just continue repeating it back to me for a while, but most of the times this does work. When they think you don't understand them, they want to make sure you've got exactly what they've said...



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