Many toddlers can have difficulty learning how to answer questions.
Common problems include:
Repeating the last few words of the question rather than answering
Answering incorrectly when you ask them a question with 2 answer choices
Giving an off-target response such as answering “two” when you ask, “what’s your name”?
Not responding or ignoring questions
By 30 months of age, most toddlers are consistently answering yes and no questions. They may choose between 2 options -“Do you want you the Incy Wincy board or Hot cross bun board?”
They may be able to answer simple “what” and “where” question’s “what do you want to sing?” or “where did the spider go?”
By age 3 most children correctly answer common questions related to themselves such as “what’s your name,” “how old are you,” “are you a boy or a girl?”
If your toddler isn’t on track, we have listed some tried and tested ways that parents may use to encourage their children to answer questions correctly using our touch and feel boards and routine sets.
“What’s this?” is usually one of the first questions our children learn to answer. By consistent practice with their favourite toys or our touch and feel boards, children will very soon learn to associate their answers to the question. For example, by showing Row row row your boat and pointing to the boat on our touch and feel board, your child will know that the correct answer to question “what’s this?” is the word “boat”.
What would you like?
Toddlers begin to answer questions by making verbal choices. Offer choices for everything throughout the day. “Do you want to get dressed or brush your teeth? Which one should we choose, routines or touch and feel boards? Should we sing Hot Cross Buns or the Twinkle Twinkle little star boards? Do you want a hug or a kiss? If your child is not yet using words, they can respond with a gesture such as pointing, looking, or even grabbing the one they want. When they are talking or signing, you should wait for them to use a verbal response, especially for words you know they can say or sign.
One way to make sure that your toddler understands choosing is to offer a non-preferred item as a choice. This is an especially effective technique for children who only “echo” the last words they hear. For example, ask if they want to play with the boards or a sock. If they repeat “sock,” let them take the sock. You can also use this with favorite snacks and a not-so-desirable option. If they echo and say the wrong item, make an effort to have them take the item they don’t want, even if they are initially upset or confused. Give them a second chance by saying, “You said, ____. What do you want, ______ or _____?” hold the “correct” choice forward or shake it to call attention to it. Exaggerate the “preferred” item as you say the word and whisper the non-preferred choice.
Ask “where is?” questions that you are confident your child can answer, either with a point, look, verbally or by retrieval of an item.
For example, hide a ball in your hand and ask them where it is. Ask where common objects are in your home so that they can go get them. Ask them to locate family members by pointing or looking as you are seated around the table during meals. Ask someone else to model the correct answers as you ask your child. Practice these kinds of tasks often, knowing that you are building a foundation for verbal responses.
When they answer the “where” questions accurately without words, begin to model verbal responses by giving two choices for more complex questions. Say, “Is your hat on your head or on your feet?” “Is the ball on the sofa or the floor?” “Is the spider up or down the drain pipe?” Again, use visual cues to help them. Use an exaggerated point to help cue the correct answer.
Yes and no questions
Work on yes and no questions by giving them as “choices.” For example, “Do you want to play with the touch and feel boards (or just boards for easy reference)– yes or no?”
Nod or shake your head to cue your child as you say the words “yes” and “no” so that they can associate those gestures with words and use them if they can’t or won’t say the words just yet.
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