The Talking Blues... My 3 year old confuses me!

Kirsten - posted on 08/04/2013 ( 25 moms have responded )

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A common phrase to hear in my house coming from the mouth of my 3 year old daughter, that is clear and precise is "oh look its Mickey House!" when her favorite Micky Mouse Clubhouse show comes on. Whats the problem? You may ask. I believe.. my 3 year old... doesn't understand, and isn't developing *everything* most 2 year old's let alone 3 year old's have.

Example: We're having a lot of trouble potty training our little tyke. We know she understands we want her to sit on it, we even had her watch a few "potty training" shows and read her those "potty training books" But when we try and sit down using words that *most* 3 year old's understand like "Your pee pee and poo poo, what you make in here" and we pat her bum where her diaper is or was "wants to go into the potty" and points into the toilet. Okay? You may ask "Whats the Problem?" -I don't think my child knows what "pee pee" and "poo poo" is...

And that's just one of the things that confuses me!! She can recognize small things: Juice, butterfly, Mickey "House", Monster (from a Disney Jr show), Doc McStuffins (and her little toy Lamby), Princess, Fairy (or Furry as she calls them)...

She recognizes our cat Topsy, Mommy, Daddy. She recognizes "treats" as cookies (we don't know why...)

She knows the word "no" and how to use it properly..

You ask again.. "okay.. whats the problem?" Believe it or not my doctor asked the same thing. I don't know how to describe it I just *know* in my heart something is wrong, that shes not learning certain things she's supposed to. Like her A B C's, her 1 2 3's (at least SOME.) Don't get me wrong! We tried!!!

The worst part is I can't shake the feeling its somehow my fault she's not "up to par." I had speech problems as a child... Did I somehow... hinder her development by my own genetic issues? My Fiancee' and I want another child.. but what if somehow my second child has issues speaking too? I always hope the second child has better luck speaking, but that's not always true... Is my fear irrational? Or should I really push her pediatrician and say "Look I need to know: Is she okay!? Is there some test you can run to check that she is doing fine?"

But she doesn't talk around strangers! Don't ask me why, but I can already tell you that any speech therapist is going to have a hard time getting her to talk to them. Shes shy and doesn't like strangers (LIKE SHE SHOULD!) but that might hinder her development...

I don't know maybe I'm worrying to much? Can any of you other moms help a frantic mother know what is the right thing to do here?

Any advice (no hate comments or hurtful words please!) would be helpful.

Thank you...

*I should add that my Fiancee' doesn't think there is anything wrong with her and that I am just another over-reactive over protective mom... (But then again he doesn't have that motherly sixth sense like I do...)

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Marie - posted on 08/11/2013

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1.) Your sixth sense is powerful. Do not ignore it. Right now, and until she is 3.5 - I think you're on a pretty good route. My daughter (who is now going on six) had all of these problems at 2, except that she almost refused to learn new words at all.. and still called both of us Daddy. We tried in vain to potty train her .. sometimes she did good, other times she acted like it was our fault and why does this all have to be so hard etc etc... but - she did get it, at about 3 and a half... after much tears on both sides, a very lucky timing moment, and lots of praise.

But, about the speech... I wish I had not waited until four on that.. because my daughter did not want to talk - she wanted to sign even with perfect hearing and no other issues according to the pediatrician. She had lots and lots of frustration, and DID know her alphabet and numbers, but was not picking up other things like names or detail words... she did not use 'happy' or 'sad'... everything she did say was 'backwards and upside down. She picked up very little from television or radio - did not sing along with theme songs to her favorite shows or say the names of characters. Her attempt at questions only made sense if you were looking at the same thing she was (not in another room or trying to understand something from earlier in the day etc). Sometimes when we went out and other children talked to her she would stare blankly at them and not respond other than to pull their hands and try to get them to run and chase on the playground. Those were warning signs. I don't see those signs in what you have said.,,, but again, your sixth sense is telling you something - and it deserves to be listened to.

Our local school district did the test for us - because age four is too old for Early Intervention. At your daughter's age, call EI first, and they will do a receptive/expressive language evaluation. The school speech therapist did the initial ten minute interview trying to speak to our daughter and then said 'Come back on 'xx', I'll have the language development therapist here and we will do a test that will probably take up to an hour.'

Some children do not pick up letters and numbers until school - but if your daughter does not pick up on more language, regular conversation, questions, comments on things you are doing, where you are going, etc.. then you may want to have her evaluated. We did end up doing speech therapy once a week at a special development center. My husband thought it was overkill but within six months our daughter was much more understandable, less frustrated and starting to pick up names, songs and ask questions. She graduated the program (for expressive language delay) and began Kindergarten last week, with good results. I waited too long for her to get help - but luckily the help we got was very good. Knowing you found out if she needed help (either way) is better than waiting for another year and wondering if you didn't do all you could...

And yes - I had speech problems (different than my daughter's) when I was a child, the youngest in my family by seven years with two older siblings. They do say speech problems can run in families.. and I will sadly say I think my worrying about her development put us off from having a second... not because we worried the second would have it as well, but because we were just so busy trying to do what was best for her.

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Honestly my little girl acts the same way. She is almost 3 and doesn't speak in a very clear way. She makes up her own words like bum bum for bunny. You will eventually get the point of what shes trying to say, then just correct her and get her to repeat it back. Please understand that every child is different. I have a nephew 3 months older than mine and it seems like everything comes easier for him. I am very guilty of comparing my child to my nephew and getting very frustrated. Don't let bragging moms put your child down in your mind. Your baby is like mine totally perfect!

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It sounds to me like your daughter is a little shy (which is not abnormal). She seems to know quite a few words, so I don't think you have a big issue. If you really, in your gut, feel like she's not understanding things the way she should, push your doctor for an evaluation. If the eval shows she's behind, you should be able to get therapists who can help.

That said, my daughter didn't potty train until she was 3, and she didn't learn her ABCs until she was 4. She is now a perfectly healthy 16 year old honor student. It's great to try to teach your kids what you can, but some things just don't really click until the child is ready, and every child is a little bit different. Good luck!

Michelle - posted on 08/10/2013

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It's normal to wonder if your child is developing at a "normal" rate. My daughter went through the same couple of issues. She wasn't fully potty trained until she was almost 3 1/2. Her speech seemed very underdeveloped for a 3yr old and we began to worry... a lot! Did she need a speech therapist? Why wasn't she grasping the concept of using the potty like a "big girl"? I spoke with my doctor about everything and he said to work with her and read her books ect. He said that every child is different and develops at different rates and not to worry yet. Well I knew that, but I was still worried. Anyways it was like one day she had a 50 word vocabulary and the next it was a 200 word vocab. Within a few months she knew almost more than the average 3yr old! It was as if she knew all these words all along and just wasn't using them. With the potty training, I used a reward system. Make her feel special for using the potty, we used a sticker chart. I also finally stopped buying pull-ups altogether and made her wear underwear all the time, even at bedtime. Once she had a few accidents in her "big girl pants", she didn't like how yucky it felt to pee her pants. After about a week off no pull-ups, she was good to go! In other words try not to stress too much (I know that's easier said then done) because you don't want her to pick up on your stressed out state of mind. It will only make things more complicated. I really hope this helps you out a bit. Just remember to make a big deal out of it when she goes on the potty or learns a new word. They see how excited you are and get excited about it themselves! Good luck!

Rachael - posted on 08/09/2013

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How fantastic you have noticed an improvement!! She is at the age where if it is 'simply' speech issue, she will generally pick it up quick - with the back up of consistency with maintaining the speech therapists tips at home, which it sounds like a non issue in your home - and the big IF its something underlying ( not trying to be scary !) she will get what she needs to 'catch up' if needed and be school ready.

A couple of tips w/ speech issues ( just FYI ) :

- go back to basics. Have her correct any words said incorrectly ( as previously mentioned by another mum )
- use her vices eg her love of Mickey to start new words.
- sounds are important. My daughter as example " shhhh shhhhhh sheep" and at first showing animals for those phonics. I'd show her a cow I'd ask " this is a COW ... a COW says..??" To get the 'mmmmmmmmm'
My son wasn't interested in talking but he loves Spanish , which isn't my native tongue, so I'd learn colors, teach him, then use that as a base to teach English THEN sentences lol! He was hard work ;)

I always felt like I was talking 'down' to my child or treating them like they're silly, but it works... My first meetings with speech therapy and stuff always had me fight it telling them my child is not stupid I'm not talking to theming they are ! Mums get defensive!! But talking like a 'Pre school teacher' works .... " look at that b b blue CAR. What noise does it make? Car goes b b brooommmm' sounds so silly but it worked for us.

I'm very very passionate about early education and development so I'd love an update! All the very best to your family xo

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Chantel Van - posted on 09/10/2013

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I just have one thing to say. Never compare your child development to another persons child as every child developes at there own pace

Helen - posted on 08/20/2013

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Firstly - I haven't read al the other posts, so if I'm repeating what others have said I apologise.
Secondly - Remember that each and every child is different! Even identical twins can develop at different rates.

Your daughter is 3. She's still a baby! Most 3 year olds DON'T know the alphabet or numbers. My 4 year old certainly doesn't and he is developing perfectly normally. Most children are potty trained by 3, but by no means all, and putting pressure on her to do this before she is ready may well delay this step. (My son's school has at least 1 or 2 children going in in nappies every term, even up to 5!)

I feel that having your daughter assessed for speech and other possible developmental delays would be extremely beneficial. It will either highlight areas in which your daughter would benefit from extra support, or it will help put your mind at rest that she is developing 'normally'.

Speech delay, if indeed you daughter does have one, has many possible causes. My son has speech issues, which I think could be related to hearing issues, maybe even something as simple as excess ear wax preventing him hearing the first and last sounds of words! I say this, not because this is the same issue your daughter has, but to try and give you some perspective.
You speech delay could have nothing at with any issues your daughter has, and as long as you read to her every day (bedtime is a good time to do this) and are talking to her during the day then things will fall into place. Try not to use baby talk with her - she needs to be able to understand what other people are saying when they talk to her, and she needs to be learning the proper form for sentences, proper words for things (things like 'doggy', 'bow-wow' and 'horsey' are big bug bears of mine - they are dogs and horses!!) and how to hold a conversation.

A lot of young children don't talk to/around strangers, so that is completely normal and speech therapists will be well used to dealing with this, and will have a whole range of tricks up their sleeves to get the child comfortable with them. Most of the work is based around play which will be a natural draw for any young child, and the first little bit with my son was just asking him to point to things to make sure he could identify different sounds, which helped the therapist gain his trust.

I feel that you may be more sensitive than other people due to your history, but if you really feel that your daughter does have issues then push for her to be assessed.

hope things go well for you all, and you have a lovely new addition in the near future.

Lauren - posted on 08/19/2013

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Kirsten - Not having read what the other posts said, let me ask you a couple questions: When you were excited about your daughter being born, did you worry about this? Do you love her unconditionally? If she DID have a real problem, would you stop loving her?

My guess is no. She certainly sounds like she's learning a lot, but development is specific to the individual. New moms are so pressured to educate early, meet certain milestones, have the "perfect" kid -- don't let it get to you. Let your daughter be young, teach her what you can and continue communicating with her doctor. Whenever I get frustrated at my kids for not listening, etc, I just remember I could have it much worse--they could have a terminal illness, a serious injury, etc. And while I'd love them just as much if they did, I count my blessings knowing my challenges are much, much smaller.

Definitely continue to monitory your daughter so you could catch issues as they arise, but for now, relish in the things she does know. You seem to be doing a good job if she's that interactive so don't feel like you have to measure up to anyone else's expectations. She's perfect just the way she is and loved by her parents! :)

Linda - posted on 08/18/2013

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see if you can get her hearing checked also ask about speech therapist insist
that your pediatrition doctor pay attention also you may want to mention that
you too had speech issues when you were little don,t blame yourself and don,t beat
yourself up over this you will be amazed @ how these therapist can work with the
children now Don,t give up on the 1st day

Christine - posted on 08/17/2013

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Sounds like she's just a normal 3-year-old. Children that age do not speak like an adult, and some are just plain stubborn and do things on their own terms, especially if they feel like they are being pushed too hard.

I have a friend with a son who wants nothing to do with the potty and didn't start speaking much at all until the past few months, and he's 3 1/2. Very clingy, doesn't speak to strangers...many kids do not like strangers at that age because they are unfamiliar. I'd say based on my experience with my own kids and others, that's more the norm than not.

Relax and enjoy your little one...there are no 5-year-olds that wear diapers and can't say their alphabet.

Elaine Melissa - posted on 08/16/2013

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Maybe she needs to interact with kids her own age. U also need to know that kids develop at different stages. The potty issue my daughter was only fully potty trianed at 3 &a half she understood what the potty was for but just wouldn't use it fully. I eventually went out bought cotton nappies used them at night and panties during the day. After a week of wearing them she asked u not to put it on her again and we've never looked back. Diapers don't make. A child feel fell the wet sensation so kids don't really understand they are wet. She's never wet her bed since.

Heather - posted on 08/16/2013

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My daughter was super why too. In speech class, she wouldn't talk until the last 10 minutes of class. That's when she was 3. She is now 4, still having speech issues, but she's now in PreK. She got into the headstart program here in our county. She is still in speech and she just started.

Your daughter will HEAR, I hope, words, and hear what the speech teacher is saying. They are really good at getting kids to actually talk and say things. They will ask you questions too about your family life and about her favorite things and us that to talk to her and get her to open up and speak! Get her help ASAP! The sooner she has speech, the better! The sooner she starts school or mom's day out, the better.

And no, she is not ok. She is 3, and should be talking way more and should be soaking in her ABC's, colors, numbers, etc. She needs help. Call your local school district and ask them to test her for speech, that your pediatrician suggested that you get speech help for her. They won't ask your pediatrician, but that's what you can tell the people at the school district. OR you can ask your pediatrician for a local place that offers speech for kids 3 years of age and up! We have a few in TN where we live.

Angie - posted on 08/15/2013

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She's three. I think she is just fine. And I really feel like if her doctor isn't concerned, then you shouldn't be either. After all, you're trusting that person with her care.

I have three kids and they are all so different! My girls talked plainly around age two. My son doesn't and he turned 2 in May. He barely puts together two to three word phrases. His speech is the same as my girls when they were 1 year old, but I'm not concerned. He's a bright boy and understands what is said to him. And sometimes they do say things wrong, such as crash can, crosting (frosting) or lellow (yellow). I gently correct them, and so far they've outgrown it. My middle girly called strawberries strawbabies, and I miss hearing her say that. It was incredibly sweet!

I don't potty train my kids. I'm a stay at home mom, so to me, there is no 'push' to train them. Although, my spouse disagrees. Why go through the added stress if you don't have to? They potty train when they're ready. My oldest did just after turning 3 and my middle child just months before turning 3. The boy definitely isn't ready yet! = )

Walking...My oldest walked just weeks before turning 1. The middle child could, but wouldn't walk until she was 17 months old and the youngest walked at 10 months old.

Work with her as much as you want, but don't let it become overwhelming for either of you. Enjoy her for who she is.

Nwabara Joyce - posted on 08/14/2013

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Most times as mothers we are in so much hurry to see the development of our kids.i will advice you keep talking her to the toilet and probably sit on the toilet while she sits on her potty watching you,with time she will start doing it herself.i think is is fine and okay.

Kathy Frank - posted on 08/13/2013

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It does not sound like there is a problem to me at all but just for your own piece of mind why not get her evaluated. I am not sure where you live but NYC has free evaluations for the entire spectrum of development including speech and cognitive development. My brother has a sever learning disability since birth so when we had our son I was so nervous that I might be missing a sign that something is wrong that we had him evaluated and he "passed" with flying colors and then some but I needed that professional evaluation in order to be sure that all was good - it did not matter what anyone else said, I would not be convinced that something was not wrong until a professional told me so. .

C - posted on 08/12/2013

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I don't think there is anything wrong with her either =)
She is only 3, her speech doesn't have to be perfect and you can't blame yourself for genetics if there is a speech issue... you've turned out fine, right?

Some kids need a little extra help along the way and develop a little slower, that doesn't even sound like your child at this point.

One thing we tend to do as parents is observe every little detail of what our child is doing, almost like googling for diagnosis for every little ache or pain we have.

Love her, play with her, teach her and she will blossom! I'm sure of it =)

Myra - posted on 08/12/2013

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You may have the same problem I had (and still have at times). Things are so blatantly obvious to us adults. But, remember that every detail has to be explained to children in order for them to understand things. It isn't that they are not smart or anything. They just have to be given enough dots so they can connect all the dots to make the picture. Things such as numbers, letters, etc. must be repeated (both vocally and visually) so many times because children (especially before they are school age) are taking in so much information. It is really overwhelming.

She doesn't sound like she is doing bad enough to worry about. It sounds like she may be on the backside of normal on the curve, but still very much within normal. She does, however, sound like she could really benefit in more one on one time of instruction from you and her dad. Make sure you are using consistent words and actions. And, also remember, if you are uncomfortable using certain words because they are more like "her age", use words you are comfortable with. If she is wearing a diaper and you pull it off, show her what is inside of it and tell her where it came from. Ask her questions such as how she felt before her diaper got wet/soiled. That very might be the best way to know how to get her to use the toilet more effectively. If she can't put it into words, tell her how it makes you feeel when you need to use the restroom. That might help her to realize that the feeling is a cue to go.

It sounds just like small things just need more attention and detail to help her. It will be kind of hard for you and him to get used to making things into digestable pieces for her for a while, but you should see a big difference withing no time.

Marie - posted on 08/11/2013

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EI is Early Intervention. Moments like that do take your breath away - our little one had a few similar as well, and one fever with 'shock' effects that scared the daylights out of me. Hoping good things for you, let us know how things go and feel free to PM if you would like to talk more specifically.

Kirsten - posted on 08/11/2013

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Michelle, Jen, Catherine, and Marie, thank you for your helpful advice and tips. I'm sorry I didn't get back sooner!

Marie what is EI? I've never heard of that program before!!

It gives me relief to know I'm not alone, and that other mother's have gone through the same worries.

Marie my husband thinks its over-kill too but I need to do whats best for my child, even if I just seem like a silly over-reactive over-protective Mother right? I mean once she fell off the couch, when she was under 1 year, and we had this really tall couch at the time, and one minute we were laughing the next I was grasping for her and sadly, missing, when she fell backwards off our couch. Naturally I freaked out checking her head and neck because she landed right on her head! After a "I'm Mommy and I'm in charge" look to my husband, who insisted we wait and see how she was in a few hours, I dragged all of us to the hospital, to have her checked out. Thankfully she was fine but I'm one to act and look silly, than don't act and regret it! So thank you everyone for your help.

Kirsten - posted on 08/09/2013

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Rachael, I'll keep all the tips in mind!! Anything to help!

I know.. she does know more words than she lets on, because one day we were in her bedroom looking at the many stickers we put on her headboard and she points to each "Look a Furry! (Fairy)" for the Tinkerbell stickers there "look look! a bear!" for the care bear stickers and "Look! Bug!" (momma hates bugs and complains about each and every one that gets into my house!!) and then suddenly "Oh Look a butterfly!" with a startled look from Mommy. Note it was said perfectly, and butterfly isn't an easy word! She does that often, come out with words she never said before, or sentences.

The talking to her and pointing out things is helping a lot more than it did.. maybe hitting the 3 year old milestone clicked something in her brain?

Of course I'll keep everyone updated! I hope next update she'll be speaking in full paragraphs and I'll be complaining she cant stop talking!!

Kirsten - posted on 08/09/2013

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Darcy, she came six days before her due date via c-section and was able to go home with me. We plan on putting her in head-start as soon as possible but there's a waiting list.

Rachael, I think I'll make an appointment, I had a speech therapist when I was her age (for different reasons) and it might help just encourage her more. Since I posted this shes gotten... *slightly* better, we've been making her ask for what she wants, and pointing out things a lot more using their names. Shes "talkative" just not, words words you know?

Thank you everyone for your comments and advice its great to know that a mom can go to other moms for help when you feel something isn't quite right!!

Rachael - posted on 08/09/2013

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I would say go to the doctor. I'm not suggesting there is something going on, I'm suggesting to follow that mama gut of yours. I have 4 kids and my first gave me that same something's up vibe. I went to the doctor and they brushed it off so i kept on doctor hopping until someone helped my boy, and thank God they did!

With the speech therapy - do it, a good therapist will gain her trust ( and yours!) and work with her through play. My youngest goes to speech and is quiet, won't talk around strangers etc she also loves animals, so the speech therapist sits on the floor with animals, barnyards and stuff and works from that basis. She is wonderful!

And with more kids... I would say is different speech and a diaper enough to bypass more kids? You never know - a baby may be enough encouragement for her to WANT to speak etc. of course everyone knows their limits and that is your personal decision , I have a more 'what's meant to be ' attitude do I never had contraceptive until I had four ... I'm a lover of big families and stuff and blessed to be able to be a stay at home mum.

Never feel like you've failed - mothers carry enough pressure and guilt without adding that to the pile! You obviously a loving and caring mummy - you are seeking advice and help for her like the great mum you are ! Take care and good luck!! Xo

Darcy - posted on 08/08/2013

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My question to you because I have the same issue with my almost 4 year old and potty training. Was your daughter born premature? I do say push for speech therapy if you had speech problems growing up your child more than likely has them too. My daughter is in speech therapy has helped her out with her communications. The potty training comes on its own in some cases if your daughter I recommend headstart and play groups with children that are potty trained see them go will help. When starting out with speech therapist go with her and let her know that it is ok to speak with this person.

Kirsten - posted on 08/05/2013

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Denikka, thank you for the words of encouragement. It helps to hear someone other than people I know look at my situation and tell me what they think. I guess I'll always fear my children will be behind in their words, or studies but I guess that's being a mother.. Your son sounds like a great kid, and I'll try what you suggest. Maybe in a few months I'll see big improvements.. who knows? I know she is VERY smart because she does things physically that is either spot on or a bit advanced... maybe speech is just not something that is going to be fast in grasping..

Denikka - posted on 08/05/2013

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If you truly believe something is developmentally wrong, then by all means, push for it.

But what you've described sounds pretty normal to me. Some kids are slower in certain areas. My son was well past 3 when he actually started talking. He just didn't care about communicating, he was much more physical. He wanted to walk and run and throw and kick a ball. He is very active and getting him to learn words was darn near impossible. Eventually I started forcing the issue. I wouldn't give him anything unless he asked for it. No more pointing, whining or whatever. He would point and I would tell him the word for what it was, and he would HAVE to say the word and say please (one of his first words was please, so that one was a non-issue)
Example: If he wanted a cookie, he would point to the cookies
I would say *cookie. Can you say *cookie please*?*
And until he at least made the attempt at saying *cookie please*, he wouldn't get it. I was much more lax in the beginning, as long as any attempt was made, I would accept that. As he got better at speaking, I would expect more accuracy in his enunciation and would put more words together for him to say (*have cookie please*, *I have cookie please*, and ending up with *may I have a cookie please*)
He's 4yrs and 5months old now and won't STOP talking anymore :P

My son also doesn't have his ABC's down yet. We have been working on it for almost 2 years+ now and he's got most of it now, but he still skips letters (especially N) and will get things mixed up if we don't do it for a few days.
His counting is better, he can count up to 13 all by himself (and sort of up to 20, but we're still working on what the *teen* numbers are called. He says fourteen, five-teen, etc) But I have been counting with him pretty much since day one. EVERY opportunity that came up, we counted. His fingers and toes when I changed him, his food, etc. Anything I could think of.
And thanks to Handy Manny, he's starting to learn to count a bit in Spanish.

As for the potty training, it could just be that it hasn't clicked for her yet. Kids are like parrots. Just because they can say something (repeat it), even in correct context, doesn't mean they quite *get it* yet. She could just not be ready at this point. Keep encouraging, but don't push it.
The same thing happens to us even as we get older. I can remember being in highschool and doing math or chemistry. I would have the formula memorized, but I didn't really understand it. If there was really any variation, I would get SO confused. Until one day, things just clicked together and fell into place. I don't know why, what was suddenly different, but I just *got it*. Same thing with kids. Sometimes it takes them a while, but one day, things just *click*

Your daughter is not behind (from what you've posted). If she was a few years older, I would definitely be concerned. But right now, she seems to be within the normal range for learning the skills you mentioned.

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