Have you ever wondered how many words should a 15 month say or what specific markers to look out for to aid in addressing speech delays? Rearing children into the wonderful world of words can be a great feat, which is why the most that parents can do is be fully supportive and helpful to their children across the milestones.
Milestones, Not Requirements
You must have read this from a pamphlet or in the pediatrician’s office, but your child’s milestones are what you shouldn’t be obsessed about. They are truly helpful in guiding you to check your child’s progress in developing motor skills and language.
However, they are not requirements upon which you’ll start panicking at the slightest missed item on what your child’s milestone should have been at a specific age. All children will still learn very differently, and more so, children born and raised in the pandemic have very little social interaction.
Signals of Possible Delay
By the age of 4, children are usually understood by anyone–even those who don’t know them–when they speak. This is why it is important to detect possible problems early on to be able to address them faster and do the necessary therapeutic corrections. Here are some things you can check before a child reaches 4:
Lack of gestures or pointing at 12 months
Relies more on gestures than speech and/or cannot mimic sound at 18 months
Struggles with understanding spoken requests or simple instructions at two years
Limited to simply mimicking speech or actions at two years
Only imitates speech and doesn’t use oral communication for urgent needs at two years
Has an unusual tone of speech (e.g., raspy, nasal) at two years
Being able to spot these early on can aid in finding out possible causes of delays in language development, such as hearing impairments, oral impairments, frenulum problems, and/or autism.
What You Can Do
The key to helping your child out is to make them feel you’re there to encourage them throughout the way. This means that though you are aware of the areas where your child needs to work on, you remain the most hopeful person in the room, assuring them that they are on the right track.
Communicating with your child means you’re practicing having a conversation with them, teaching them to listen to you and to respond during the right cues. This aids them in understanding how language works when used to be able to talk with other people. This also exercises their ability to spot pauses and to detect speech cues, such as knowing when it is time to talk and when it’s time to listen.
Communicating with them means that you’re no longer using a baby tone–or motherese–but that you’re already talking to them like an adult, using the proper pronunciation of words and intonation. Exposure to how language ought to sound happens here more than relying on YouTube videos for your kids. More importantly, this is the beginning of their ability to socialize.
Read to and with Your Child
Though it might take more time off your day, reading with and to your child is still one of the strongest ways to reinforce language learning. This widens their vocabulary, develops their imagination and creativity, and is an easy, loving moment between you and your child.
This also teaches them at an early age to love reading and writing so that it prepares them better for schooling. As a habit develops, reading together can also be a way for you to remind them that they are dear and precious to you, which is why you take the time to share this activity without distractions.
Use Everyday Opportunities
Children most likely learn words from everyday experiences. Their first words are usually borne out of their daily routine: eat, water, drink, milk, dog, mama, daddy, etc. This is why your child’s everyday routine can be filled with many learning opportunities for you to grab as they grapple with language learning.
Their needs–eating, drinking, pooping–can be practiced in communication when encouraged in everyday scenarios. This will teach them to be able to communicate their needs, likes, and even dislikes properly.
Take the initiative to spark up conversations. Ask them what they are doing, how they feel, and what has happened during the day or in the show they watched. By prompting questions, you can encourage them to speak, and this will also teach them that they can someday ask their questions as their critical thinking skills develop.
There is no shame in calling your pediatrician or a speech pathologist if you think that the task is more challenging for you. Seeking professional help will also be able to help you more for your child to be able to communicate better.
Language development for children is a vast field of study that brings psychology, linguistics and parenting into a convergence–one that aims to improve a single life and make the beginnings of living memory.