Speech Delayed Toddler Tantrums. What Do Parents Need to Know?
“We’ve found that many of our late talking toddler clients get very frustrated when they can’t express their wants, needs and emotions. The same situation would make any adult frustrated and angry, so why wouldn’t a child react the same way?” said Jennifer, a speech therapist at Therapy Works Together who has worked with toddlers for over 10 years.
In the study, a toddler is considered to be a “late talker” if they have fewer than 50 words or aren’t putting words together by age 2.
The increase in frustration and number of tantrums is only made worse by the fact that many people still believe that a “wait and see” approach is the best way to handle their late talkers. They are advised by loved ones that their toddler might simply outgrow their delay. But the research on that suggests otherwise.
Here are the Facts About Speech Delayed Toddler Tantrums
- 20-30% of late talkers don’t outgrow their delay
- Late Talkers who seem to catch up continue to have some weaknesses in language, literacy, social skills and/or executive function skills (like planning or paying attention)
Do Parents Want to Risk Waiting? What Should Parents Do?
If your child is experiencing increased frequency of speech delayed toddler tantrums parents would want to increase the chances for a positive future for their toddler. So early language intervention is crucial. Intervention with a speech therapist that focuses on strategies that help a child communicate at an age appropriate level can drastically decrease frustration at home, at school with teachers or with peers.
Parents also report that speech therapy’s biggest impact can be with improving social communication between a toddler and a peer. A parent of a late talking toddler who gets speech therapy at Therapy Works Together, says:
“My son used to hit his sister whenever he wanted a toy. Now he can say “gimme please” as he reaches his hand out. I’ve seen such great improvement in his language but I’m happy to say that he also doesn’t get angry so often.”
The recommendation for speech therapy is not something that parents should hesitate about. It does no harm. Meaning, even if your child would have outgrown their delay, the speech therapist just played with your child and their toys. The intervention doesn’t hurt or do damage. And since there is a risk for problems in school later on with literacy, language and other functioning, the risk is greater for parents to wait and do nothing. If you are not comfortable with in-home speech therapy, online speech therapy is now available for children, and has proven to be effective training.
Another important recommendation is for parents to get trained in speech therapy strategies that they can use at home with their toddler. When a parent is empowered to be their child’s speech therapist, a child learns faster and can graduate from speech therapy sooner. There really is no downside.
The SLPs at Therapy Works Together are available specifically to train parents to learn many of the strategies that speech therapists use with late talking toddlers. “It’s one of our most popular programs,” says Carly, “because parents and toddlers see results right away.”