Board Games for Late Talking Toddlers

candy land

Board Games for Late Talking Toddlers

Introducing board games with any toddler can be hard, and it’s even more of a challenge for toddlers with developmental delays.

Does that mean we give up and don’t try at all?

No way! Of course, we should try!

There are plenty of ways to “play” board games with toddlers.


Expecting them to understand and follow the rules of the game is not one of them!

RULE #1: There are no rules.

When we begin to expose a very young child, especially those with developmental delays, to any kind of new game, we should be prepared to “go with the flow” as we play. In practical terms, this means you will probably never follow the rules.

Never as in ever.

Although it would be nice to think that board games can be a tool for helping a child learn to understand and follow directions, it never works out that way. Typically developing toddlers usually won’t have enough self-control to follow these rules during games and our little friends certainly don’t.

We teach compliance during daily routines and with our house rules with things like “We wash our hands after we go potty,” “We do not hit,” and “We take our shoes off at the door.” This kind of “rule-following” IS a realistic expectation for any toddler living in our households. We teach those kinds of important rules with consistent repetition day in and day out.

Rules like “Don’t touch the spinner until it’s your turn,” and “You can only move two spaces” really aren’t that important in the general scheme of things with a late talker, even when you’re trying to teach him how to play a game. Our goal in board games should be the same as it is with other toys…just have fun! Enjoy playing together. Once he likes the game and likes you, THEN you can begin to teach other things. That won’t happen if you’re the GAME CZAR.

In my opinion, as an SLP, language and interaction trumps ALL other focuses for a late talker no matter what the activity. Who cares if he takes four turns in a row as long as he’s talking? Does it really matter if he puts a red marker in the blue space if he’s staying with you, laughing, and participating? Don’t ruin all of this momentum by insisting that he play correctly!

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing one of my favorite board games for late talking toddlers for fall. Stay tuned for that!


P.S. I never play Candy Land with clients!

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