Ahhh children:  they are our little bundles of joy who can brighten up any sad day….that is, until they reach the terrible two’s and learn the art of  throwing tantrums.  Being a parent myself, I noticed that my daughter started throwing more and more tantrums around two to three years old.  If you have ever heard of the term, “terrible twos and threes,” perhaps you would understand the struggles a parent goes through!  One theory I had was it was due to her being unable to express her wishes to me clearly and concisely.  Looking back on all the times she threw a tantrum, most of the time it was due to a block in her ability to communicate.  We all know how this feels like.

Have you ever ordered food from a restaurant, let’s say rojak, and when your food came out they brought you nasi lemak instead?  You clearly explain to the server that you would like rojak and not nasi lemak, so they take the dish to the back and when they come back out they have added more sambal onto your plate.  How would you feel?

I imagine this is what many toddlers go through – they really want something and in their mind they are stating it clearly, but we don’t always understand as adults.  This can be a very frustrating time for children!  It is practically the same as moving to another country with another language where no one understands you.  Taking care of our basic needs would become a frustrating struggle for us.

Most toddlers know what they want, but conveying this to an adult can be a frustrating endeavour for them.

One Solution for the Terrible Two’s and Three’s

One solution would be to teach your child to communicate early on in their development; this sets you AND your child up for success in the long run.

As babies, children learned to communicate through crying, cooing and mimicking noises they heard from people around them.  If it was something serious they needed, such as food or a new nappie, they would cry in order to get our attention.  As they turn into toddlers, and their needs become a bit more complex, they communicate the only way they know how:  by crying!  They have learned that in order to get something they really want, they just have to cry, we will somehow understand what they want and POOF!  What they want unfolds before them.

By the time they are toddlers we don’t want them to cry every time they want something.  We want them to tell us what they want.  One reason is because it can be quite embarrassing to be in a grocery store when your two-year-old suddenly throws herself on the ground when you refuse to get her the cereal she wants!

What stops children from communicating at a young age?  And more importantly, what can we do to teach our child or children to talk early?

What Can We Do To Teach Our Child To Talk Early?

I have a friend whose son could speak impeccably from a young age – taking a cue from him and wanting the same for my daughter, I picked his brain.  One of the things he told me was 90% of the time he knew what his son wanted, but he wouldn’t give it to him unless he tried mouthing or saying the words.  He would sit with his son a few extra minutes and say, “What do you want?  Tell daddy what you want.”

If his son started crying after his father denied him something, his father would sit down and explain to him why he wasn’t allowed to have what he wanted.  In other words, he talked to his son and reasoned with him as if he was an adult.  Was he an adult?  Of course not, but the father also knew that his son understood a lot more than what met his eye.

Here are three things you can do to start teaching your child to talk early:

  • Encourage them to speak properly from early on.
  • Talk to them as though they understand you even if their vocabulary or comprehension doesn’t match yours.
  • Take the extra time to work with them now so you can enjoy the fruits of your labours later on.

The great thing about taking time with them early on is you will most likely experience less tantrums, your child will have increased communication skills, and fewer upsets altogether (which makes for pleasant trips to the grocery store).

In summary, I have always believed that if a parent sets their child up for success early on by taking the extra time and initiative, they will enjoy the benefits of their actions.  It is normal for children to cry in order to get what they want, but unfortunately this isn’t how you get what you want out of life.  Don’t believe me?  Have you ever tried throwing a tantrum in your boss’ office when they denied you that raise you were seeking?  It probably wouldn’t work.

If a parent trains their child in such a way that they are given anything they want whenever they cry, I feel that this action actually sets the child up for failure later on in life.  They may be more inclined to have high expectations and may also have major emotional whiplash when things don’t always go their way.  Additionally, they may also be less inclined to understand another person’s point of view when they are denied something they want which leaves less room for compassion, understanding and empathy.

The good news is that it is never too late to start setting your child up for success, especially in terms of communication.  Taking the extra time to sit and work with them through whatever communication blocks they have not only affects them in a positive way, but you as a parent as well.

Wishing you and your child successful communication!


Jana Moreno