Middie Biddie can talk a lot more than she does. I've made the mistake of continuously trying to figure out what she wants and providing it for her without making her learn to ask for what she wants. I never really transitioned from the constant guessing and evaluating a babies wants and desires to properly teaching them how to communicate their desires properly. I think about how long it's been since they've eaten and just provide the next meal or snack without being prompted in any way.
As a result, I'm constantly hearing reports of children much younger than the girls, like a year younger, speaking more complexly than my girls do. I still don't get to hear any of their thoughts. I don't post any funny things kids say here because they don't say those funny things.
Teeny Tiny has taken some initiative and will occasionally tell us what she wants. Any time either of them says something like "banana" or whatever, we say "you asked for a banana very nicely so Mama will get you a banana!" So if they ask or communicate what they want, they get it almost without fail (with the exception of treats, those are only if they ate well that day).
For example, I have curtains separating my office from the main living space. I leave them wrapped around a pole so they are out of the way, and Teeny Tiny has learned to say "curtain please!" when she wants me to put them down so she can run through them or use them for peekaboo. If she just tugs on them, I remind her to say "curtain please", she does, and all is well.
But Middie Biddie is a whole other story. She won't ask, she'll reach for what she wants and cries/whines. She's perfectly capable of speaking, she's entertaining herself in her crib right now blabbering away. She counts all the time, will correctly identify random letters about 90% of the time, will tell me what all the animals say, she just won't use words to communicate what she wants! Speaking is entertainment to her rather than communication. The frequency, strength, and persistence of the crying whine makes my ears bleed and it's becoming a constant thing. It frazzles me the same way newborn screeching frazzled me. I'll remind her endlessly to say "curtain please" and she just refuses. I know she's perfectly capable, but once she wants something, she's already upset at not getting it and has started the tantrum to get what she wants. Once a toddler tantrum starts, that's it, you really can't stop it to get a desired behavior. So the problem is, she asks for what she wants by throwing a tantrum!
We need to put a stop to this and it's going to be painful. I went to work on it tonight. She was doing her whining and I figured out that she wanted me to blow bubbles. She can say "bubble" just fine. It was one of her first words, the first thing she ever identified unprompted, and she yells out "BUBBLES!!!" whenever we play with them.
She whined, and cried, and got very distressed reaching for the bubbles. I kept telling her "say bubbles and I'll blow bubbles. No honey, I can't until you ask. Just say bubbles. What is this? Is it the bubbles?" and so on and so forth for 45 agonizing minutes. I showed her videos of people blowing bubbles. She tantrumed away, trying desperately to get me to blow bubbles but I held my ground. Finally, FINALLY during one of the videos, she finally uttered "buhbuh" and I very enthusiastically declared "You want bubbles? Yay! Let's blow bubbles!!!!" and then it was bubblepalooza in the house! Every so often I would stop and say "What do you want?" and she would say "Bubbles" and yay! More bubbles! Then I started to say "I want bubbles!" before each blow because she parrots a lot so she would repeat "I want bubbles" and be rewarded with a room full of bubbles. That was our activity for about a half hour until she got bored and moved on to something else.
I'm calling it a victory but it's one small battle in a long war. I'm frustrated that I'm listening to her chatter in her bed when she won't talk in person. And I'm so unbelievably sick of saying the word "bubbles" I could scream. But if we want her to start communicating with words rather than whining, we can't continue to allow the whining to work.