Tips to Teach Sound Imitation for Toddlers

Tips to Teach Sound Imitation for Toddlers

Have you ever wondered how children acquire language? It begins early during infancy when children begin imitating their parents & caregivers. Imitation for toddlers occurs as early development and is a crucial building block to language development.


Imitation for toddlers is important for the development of language, play, and social skills. Generally, a child will learn to imitate movements before they learn to imitate sounds through speech.  Even though motor imitation is not directly related to language development, teaching a child to imitate body movements is helpful because it teaches a child valuable imitation skills. 


A child is usually ready for this type of learning process when they are able to move their hand independently of other parts of their body. Following are some tips to teach sound imitation for toddlers.


Be face to face with your child

Let your child watch your face when you are making the sounds. When you do this, your child can see your mouth, its movements, and also facial expressions. If your child has difficulty in looking at your face, i.e., if they have limited eye contact or attention span, you can do activities to draw their attention & focus on your face while simultaneously vocalizing the sounds. Some examples would be holding a glittering object close to your face or a jingling of keys near your face. You can even use a favorite object of your child. 


Follow your child’s lead

Cooing is when your baby makes playful sounds. They start cooing as early as 6 weeks. when they do this, imitate them. In the same way, When your baby is around 6 months old, they will start to babble. They will use simple consonant & vowel combinations like “/ma…ma…ma/”. When they do this, try imitating them. Use lip sounds such as words beginning with P, B, and M. Children usually pick up these sounds first. Add a vowel (a,e,i,o,u). You can use different combinations like ma…, mi…., bu….. Your child may not imitate you on the first attempt, but after a while, they may start closing their lips because they’re trying to imitate the lip sounds. 


Animal sounds as a facilitator

Kids just loooove animal sounds!! You can show them videos or action songs where there are animals on the farm. Each animal gets his own turn to make the sounds. You can also use costumes to dress up as different animals & make animal sounds! Kids love these activities and tend to imitate animal sounds very well for starters. Make this animal sounds with them. This facilitates imitation in toddlers. Be enthusiastic & silly. Have a lot of fun!


Imitate your child’s actions 

When your child does some actions, imitate them. You can use action songs available online. When you are starting off, it is important to pick simple action songs. Actions songs can be of any category like body parts, animal sounds, etc. Imitate each action slowly & one at a time. Repeat the activity to strengthen the imitation skills. They will slowly start imitating the sounds as words as you repeat these activities.  Sing a song, then pause & let them fill in the last word. You can sing “When you’re happy & you know it, (pause) ______ your hands”. Here, your child will say “Clap. This is the part where you are transitioning from imitation to sound/ word production on cueing. 


Imitate sounds, actions  & facial expressions

Whenever your child makes some spontaneous vocalizations, you can start off by imitating them. When you start imitating them, they will understand what you are trying to do. They will then try to imitate. In this way, you can take turns & imitate one another. Imitate your child’s actions. For example, when your child is eating you can your belly & say “Yummmy, mmmm”. You can then show your child how to do it. You can also imitate facial expressions. Show them a happy face by making it, you can use a mirror too!. Let your child imitate you. Make silly faces & enjoy your time imitating your child. 


Use People games 

People games are fun-filled physical activities that you do with your little one. Some examples included Pat-a-cake, Peek-a-boo, Ring around the Rosie, etc. These games are repetitive in nature. They help not only imitation but also in play, interaction & learning new things. Even a simple “Hi-Five” works! When you are doing the “Hi-Five”, exaggerate the actions. you can fall down after the “Hi-Five” by saying ” Oh that was a very strong one! You are very strong”. When children know that there is a consequence to an action, they will be tempted to try it again. Therefore improving on imitation. Add sounds & words when you high five “Yay” or “Ouch”. 


Reinforce all sounds 

Give your child rewards like (Good job!) each time they produce any sound. Pick from a variety of different categories like toys, stickers, foods, etc. to be the rewards. For every sound that they imitate, you can give them a token or reward. Slowly fade the rewards or help the child collect those reinforcers in exchange for a little surprise such as favorite chocolate or treat at the end of the day.

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Vaz Larisa
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