Being the parent of a toddler is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Their unlimited energy and curiosity, short attention spans, impulsiveness, tantrums, and nap strikes are enough to make any mom want to return their tiny tyrants to their womb.
But toddlers aren’t all evil… If there’s anything I love most about this stage, it’s having conversations with them! My kid is three and everything he says is gold—well yeah, everything except for his constant "NOs" and endless "WHYs". Three is such a sweet age for funny conversations, and as a writer, I feel compelled to keep track of all the hilarious things that come spilling out of my threenager’s mouth.
Here are a few things we’ve chatted about…
Because priorities, honey.
So I guess that’s one way of saying that...
Please don’t kill me yet.
Awwwe, you have a big heart, honey! I’m sure we can all fit in there.
Uhmm...I’m pretty sure that’s not how naps work.
Of course not!
What--so it’s my fault now?
Wrong channel, hun.
The toddler mind is a weird and wonderful thing; it’s amazing how they pick up speech like a tsunami! One day they’re still learning to say their first words, and before you know it they just won’t stop talking, you’d wish they had a “mute” button. My toddler, for instance, never fails to fascinate me. Sometimes he’d sound like a grown-up, using words like “actually,” “eventually,” “anyway…” and even inserting tag questions like “it’s amazing, isn’t it?” in our conversations.
He wasn’t always like this, though. Before, I’d go crazy worried about how he wouldn’t speak a lick no matter how much we blabbed and read to him. We were ready to call the speech-language pathologist that one of our friends recommended when, out of nowhere, the kid pointed at a red car and let out a loud “caaahhh.” That’s right, his first word wasn’t even “mama” or “papa,” but “car.” He hasn’t stopped talking since.
It turns out, all of our wishing and worrying was unnecessary, weighing us down needlessly because babies will eventually talk! As our pediatrician kept reminding us, children are different and will develop skills at different times. In some babies, their first words may emerge around their first birthday; while others can take longer. If you believe your little human is one of the latter, then fret not, mama. There are plenty of things you can do to help your tot develop the gift of gab.
Here’s what worked for us:
The most important thing you can do to help your toddler learn to talk is to talk as much and as often to them as you can. Naming things, narrating your actions, and simply chatting with your kid can do wonders. If your child says “car,” give them the car and say, “Yes! This is a car, a red car. Look, the car can run. Broom, broom!” Speech pathologists call this language expansion, a technique that helps to improve language acquisition by taking a concept or word your child has said and then adding more information to it.
I’ve always loved books as a child, so I was committed to instilling a love of reading in my tot. Study after study has proven that reading with children improves their speech and helps the bond with parents and read early themselves. It also has tons of long-term benefits, too, some of which extend into adulthood. I wish I could say that I started reading aloud to my kid since day 1, but life often gets in the way. Nevertheless, I try my best to squeeze in even just a few minutes of reading during bedtime.
Another technique that helped my kid develop the gift of gab is engaging him in pretend play. My kid absolutely loves cars (fun fact: he’s named after his dad’s favorite supercar. Why I ever agreed to let him name our son, I don’t know). At first, he’d only make car sounds. Eventually, we progressed to making our own live-action movie of Disney Cars.
Also, confession time:I’m not ashamed to admit that Youtube may also have a hand in my kid’s speech development despite studies linking screen time to kids' speech delay. Like other millennial mamas, there were days when I relied on Johnny, Johnny, Yes Papa and Baby Shark when a much-needed distraction is required. And those few minutes of screen time (okay, maybe half an hour...or more? Please don’t stone me!) not only helped me when I’m in survival mode, but it also taught my kid how to carry a tune (because obviously, I can’t).
Listen, although there’s nothing cuter than the way toddlers mispronounce words, it’s important that you listen to what your kid is saying and avoid making fun when his tongue trips. Listening to your child helps him develop the confidence to learn how to talk and also teaches him to be a good listener. I know it’s hard. My kid used to say “fock” instead of “fork” and “titty” instead of “kitty.”
Your home will definitely be brighter, your heart bigger, and every activity more exciting once having a conversation with your child is no longer a one-sided affair. But a word of warning—once your kid discovers the magic of the spoken word, there’s no going back. You’ll be badgered with a million questions that you’d end up wondering what on earth you’d been so anxious for! Ha.
Over to you. Have your kids (or kids you know) said anything funny recently? Share with us their gems below!