I guess I shouldn’t really refer to Faith as a toddler any more, after all she is 3 years old now. Maybe the correct ‘label’ should be Pre-schooler? Perhaps it’s because I know she’s my last baby and I haven’t quite got round to facing the fact that she’s growing up! At nursery she’s in the Transition room. I think that’s a pretty good description as she’s certainly not a toddler but she seems far too small to be in Kindergarten just yet, and I certainly can’t entertain the fact that she’ll be starting school next year!
Whatever we refer to her as, Faith has always been fairly good with her speech and is usually able to express herself clearly. However, there are some things she says that have us in stitches and some things that are just downright cute. So here’s my brief guide to toddler talk in our house. I’d love to hear the toddlerisms that appear in your house.
1. When it comes to expressing time periods, 2 words are enough.
Toddlers are busy people, they don’t have time to waste by clearly defining periods of time. If an event has already happened at any point during their life then it was yesterday. If it is yet to happen then it is tomorrow. In some cases, it can be both. It is always best to hedge your bets when in doubt!
2. If you don’t know a word, just make it up.
There are some words that are just not as they should be. In this case it is best to make up your own version. It’s often easier to say and adults generally think it is cute. For example, ‘I had to’ becomes ‘I hadded to’ and ‘aren’t I’ becomes ‘amen’t I’. There are also those overcomplicated words that are tricky to say such as banana and spaghetti. Nana and sketti will do just fine.
3. Use many, many words for extra emphasis.
Any toddler who has watched or read Charlie and Lola will be well versed in the art of adding emphasis to make an impact. Sentences such as ‘I actually didn’t even actually touch it’ are winners. Such sentences drive home the point clearly and are viewed by grown-ups as quite cute, often diverting the attention from whatever you did actually touch.
4. Be alert for any words adults say with emphasis – some of them may be inappropriate for you to use. Identify them and use them.
We try very hard not to use any ‘naughty’ words in our house but sometimes toddlers pick up words from elsewhere. Whilst staying at my Mum’s house Faith heard my Grandma refer to something as ‘blimmin”. Yesterday, when I was hanging out the washing, Faith wanted me to do something. I told her several times to wait until I’d finished. Eventually she turned to me and said, “Will you just blimmin’ do it!”
5. Pick your moments to express yourself clearly and at a good volume.
At home we talk about things such as disability and different cultures but my heart still misses a beat when we see someone in the street in a wheelchair or who is a little overweight. This is the perfect time for a toddler to embarrass the adult they are with as they point out this person in the loudest and clearest voice they can muster. Do not ignore your toddler in this instance as they will persist with the questioning getting louder each time. I will never, ever forget the time when I was signing for a parcel and Faith announced in a very loud voice that there was a ‘chocolate man’ at the door *shrivels with embarrassment at the memory*.
6. Save good manners for when you really need them.
Don’t waste time with pleases and thank yous in run-of-the-mill situations unless prompted to do so. Save these for when you need to sweet-talk a grown-up or as a last resort. Perfect manners can get you out of many a tricky situation, just make sure you team them with a winning smile.
7. If all else fails, the tantrum is your friend.
Sometimes, communicating with adults or siblings just gets too much. Toddlers get tired, they struggle to find the right words and express themselves. In this situation it is best just to throw yourself to the ground and sob or scream. I can guarantee your parents will want to join you but they will probably just try to divert you in some way. Stay strong and stand your ground.
Despite their cute appearance and endearing toddlerisms, toddlers are actually finely tuned speech ninjas. As long as you remember this, all will be fine.