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Is it wrong to interpret your toddler?

Every child is at a different pace with development. Toddlers babble, some make clear sentences. My son can sometimes make clear sentences, but he's still talking gibberish most of the time. I have to be his interpreter in front of others. I can understand what he's saying a lot of the time even when he is babbling most of the sentence, I can catch a few words to connect what he's trying to say...and I usually call it "Mommy ears." We as mothers can understand our children and I think that's fine.

And then I'm being told that I am talking FOR him. That he's not learning because I'm saying it FOR him. He's 21 months. I hear, "talk clearly, I don't understand you." When I can clearly understand what he's trying to say...and I'll go do it. He wants his sippy and I hear it, I get it. Then I get lectured because he needed to say it clearly. He was getting ready to get it himself, but it was too high for him so when I understood he wanted it, I got it so he wouldn't hurt himself climbing. Is that wrong???

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Asked by Imortlmommy at 8:36 PM on Jan. 27, 2011 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 19 (7,592 Credits)
Answers (10)
  • How will he ever learn to do things if your always there to help him out? Let him learn on his own you may think your helping but it may be more damaging then you think

    Answer by ExtremlyUnique at 8:38 PM on Jan. 27, 2011

  • Hes not yet 2. My son is 3 1/2 and I still have to translate certain things to my hubby. As long as you are trying to teach him the English word instead of the baby talk word, who gives a damn what others think?

    Answer by silversmom at 8:43 PM on Jan. 27, 2011

  • It sounds like you have had some criticism. Is it your MIL????

    You are doing for your child and that is fine.  My son is 6 and sometimes I have to interpret for him.  Not because he talks gibberish, but because he rambles on and people miss his point.

    I would let him say what he wants then say it the right way for him.


    Answer by dancinintherain at 8:47 PM on Jan. 27, 2011

  • Just so long as you're still trying to get him to pronounce things more clearly, I think what you're doing is fine. Yes, if you continue to do EVERYTHING for him that can impair his language growth, but he's not even 2 yet! It's not like your 5 year old is still babbling. I think that a happy middle is the best thing (practice saying words right, but interpreting for those who can't understand everything he says). Language does not develop over night and many children still have trouble saying things clearly when they're starting school. And no, getting something for him that he couldn't reach is not a bad thing. I do it for DD all the time because we put things out of her reach so she won't spill it or whatever, then (like if it was her cup) if she wants it, I'll get it down for her. She does most things on her own, but kids can't reach everything adults can. She's 2, and still babbling a lot, but says a lot of words clearly.

    Answer by Mrs.BAT at 8:49 PM on Jan. 27, 2011

  • I have to do the same thing for my daughter when we are around other people. She is only 15 months and speaks very well but sometimes she says things really fast or says it when she is excited and kind of screams it. I understand but others don't get what she said. But I repeat the words clearly to the others and she hears I think that reinforces the statement to her as well as tells people around what she said. I see nothing wrong with that.

    Answer by Anon344 at 8:51 PM on Jan. 27, 2011

  • You most likely understand him better because you are with him more often. But I would correct your son not just interpret for those that don't understand him. I have a friend that has a son that you could not understand and she spoke with the school system before he began public preschool, they had him tested and provided a speech therapist before he started school. He is doing great now.

    Answer by jwpmom at 8:55 PM on Jan. 27, 2011

  • silversmom took the words right out of my, fingers. lol. And my Son is also 3 1/2. =]

    Answer by -AJ at 8:57 PM on Jan. 27, 2011

  • Really? People are saying you're wrong for listening to your child when he talks to you? That's weird - I guess there's always someone who finds faults with everything. It is an accomplishment for a kid to get to the point where they can get ANYONE to understand them verbally. I've actually always heard that the right way to encourage language development is to, yes, respond to his request when you understand what he's trying to say, but also repeat it back to him in complete/proper sentence. If he says "A wa ba", you should say "Do you want your ball? Okay, here is your ball." You can elaborate if you want. Even our pediatrician says this is the right way to teach kids to talk. And honestly, it would just be mean to refuse to give him his ball until he develops the proper muscle control and cognitive faculties to properly enunciate his words. He's only 21 months old!!

    Answer by Sebbiemama at 8:59 PM on Jan. 27, 2011

  • I agree with dancinintherain - let him say what he has to say, help him if need be with what he wants (get his sippy), but also repeat what he said to you so he can learn to say it correctly.

    Answer by MamaLisa1976 at 9:24 PM on Jan. 27, 2011

  • I was all set to say that you should let him do it on his own, but then I read that he is 21 months! WOW!!! My 20 month old isn't saying much yet, and when she does, I DEFINITELY have to translate for everyone else, because it is such a basic approximation. I think that at his age, translating for him is totally fine...not only fine, but in my opinion it builds his confidence that he is understood. So many of the "terrible twos" tantrums stem from the fact that the child is trying to communicate something that is so clear in his brain, but just can't be understood by other people. So build his confidence now...when he is older, you'll have to kick the habit if his still has trouble, but for now, interpreting so that he is understood will encourage him to communicate more.

    Answer by Maisy19 at 7:49 AM on Jan. 28, 2011

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