Have you ever had this happen?
You: What is that?
You: You know what that is……….what is that?
Toddler: ………….(walks away)
There is a reason this is happening. They don’t know the answer. Also, they probably don’t understand the question. Toddlers (kiddos under the age of three) don’t have the cognitive skills to completely understand “wh” questions. I am not saying all kids, but the majority of them. It is tricky, because we typically feel the only way to teach little ones is by asking questions. This is incorrect. So stop doing it.
This is especially true for kiddos with speech or language disorders. It is hard enough for these kiddos to say the words when we model them for them (i.e. “Say helicopter.”), much less when they haven’t heard the word at all. Imagine this…..someone asks you “What is the square root of 1,452 (a + b) if a is equal to 798 and b is the square root of a?” And no, you can’t use a calculator. I don’t know about you, but I am likely going to just walk away, or laugh. Yeah, probably laugh. This question is the equivalent of us pointing to a helicopter and asking a toddler “What is that?”
Instead of asking, tell. Tell them what it is. “That is a helicopter.” They are a lot more likely to say a word they hear than a word they don’t hear. If you really want to ask questions, make sure to give them the answer too. Like “Whoa, do you know what that is? It is a helicopter!” You get it? Good!
Just to prove a point, I just asked Hank, my two year old, this:
Me: Hank, who flies a helicopter?
Hank: (Blank stare.)
Me: Come on, you know this. Who flies a helicopter?
Hank: Go ask Grandpa.