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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
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Experience:  Licensed as psychologist and marriage and family therapist
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Hello! My son is 12 months old, and can only say mama and

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Hello! My son is 12 months old, and can only say mama and dada. So, when he wants something he whines and loudly yells/ fusses until I figure out what it is he wants. This happens all day long :). I do put my finger to his mouth and say "sush" inside voice, but nothing really helps. Is he just "finding his voice" or is there a better way to help him communicate without the constant whining which turns into crying? We've tried some sign language with not much luck. Thanks!!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Jen Helant replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

I understand how frustrating this can be. I think he does this because he does not know how to ask for what he wants, so it is frustrating for him. Every child reacts differently since they have different personalities. He may have a strong personality and wants what he wants when he wants it, so this is why it can be even more frustrating for him. The best thing you can do is to ask him what he wants and name the items. Try not to just try things and give them to him even though sometimes in the moment that is easiest. Show him and say "are you wanting juice right now"? And do this with whatever you think he wants while putting it near him. This will help teach him what things are and help with his vocabulary.

As he learns to talk it would be easier to deal with this since he will be knowing more words and can express himself as well as he will be able to understand you better. You can also explain how if he cries and does not show you then you will not be able to help him. Toddlers even when not talking yet usually understand a lot more than we think. In the future when he knows how to talk or even at least show you and still cries or whines then I would let him know you will not give anything to him unless he let's you know. This will show him that you will not respond to whining and only to gestures or talking. Consistency is key and he will learn what is expected of him and need to stop the whining because he will know it won't work. Just be patient and don't give up. It is not easy, but with consistency you will see results.

I wish you well and please let me know if I can be of further help.
Jen Helant, Child Care
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1124
Experience: I have my bachelors degree in psychology. I worked with children. Since then I have raised and still raising 3 wonderful boys.
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Expert:  Dr. L replied 1 year ago.
Hello,
I would like to help you with your question. Your son is "speaking" appropriately for his age and development. Below is a helpful guide from WebMD about speech development:
http://children.webmd.com/guide/speech-and-language-development-age-1-to-3-years

Here is another helpful resource:
http://www.pbs.org/parents/childdevelopmenttracker/one/

At one year old, most children do a lot of grunting and pointing. They are easily frustrated when they don't get their needs met and that very quickly turns into crying.

During this phase of development children will often focus on their parent and care givers mouth. That's because they are trying to see where words come from and how to move their mouth in the same way. So when you are speaking to your son, make sure that he sees your mouth and that you carefully articulate words.

It would also be helpful to do lots and lots of reading with him...especially picture books with objects. This way he will learn to name things. Repetition is the key here.

What might lower your own worries and anxiety here is to get a good book on child development that will allow you to better track his progress and to anticipate what the next phase will be.

Let me know if I can provide any further assistance.

Thank you.
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Licensed as psychologist and marriage and family therapist
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