Once a child has a certain level of communicative ability, there’s an expectation on them to use that form of speech. “It may be the child feels ‘I’m not ready to step up to this demand now’. With children, some areas of development can be slightly in advance of others, so it might be ‘I’m having a bad day — I’m not up to the task of dressing myself/ speaking clearly’.”
Murphy says children who revert to earlier patterns might speak in shorter sentences or use word patterns or speech/ sound substitutions they’d grown out of – like ‘nana’ for banana or ‘bobo’ for bottle. It’s best, she says, not to give it overt attention, nor to punish or reprimand.
“If you give it attention, whether negative or positive, you’re setting up the scenario for it to be repeated.”
Instead, focus on and respond to the child’s mature communication.
“Convey an expectation that your child can talk at a more mature level by acting as if they are. Model the more mature language of which you know the child is capable.”
If the issue has arisen because of change in the child’s life — birth of a new baby or his one-year-old sibling has started to toddle and communicate — give lots of hugs, reassurance.