16 answers

Toddler Consistently Skips 13 and 14 When Counting

Hi ladies! My son is nearly three and has known how to count to 20 for quite a while. For some reason, he usually either skips 13 and 14 or he slurs the pronunciation. How can I help him learn 13 and 14? He breezes through all of the other numbers. Is it some sort of mental block? What's going on there? He likes counting steps and whatever else comes his way.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Both of my older boys consistently skipped 16 for quite a while--we gently reminded them, but not much more. They are 5 and 7 now and counting to 100 and beyond with no issues and no skipped numbers! :-)

This is very normal at this age. I would not worry about it. Go back to only counting to 12 and then add 13. When he's counting to 13 then add 14 and so forth. I count with the kids in my care all the time. Snack time is a great time to count how many crackers, raisins etc.. Also when you go for walks count 12 trees and the next day count 13 trees etc. I would still sometimes count higher since he is only mixing up a few numbers.

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My otherwise very bright four-year old does that, too. I think they will eventually get it.

I have two daughters -- both did this. We just focused on counting really slowly, and when I could, I would point to the numbers (like on a calendar) to show them that there were 2 different numbers there. One day, they just finally started to say it all more clearly and you could hear the two sounds. It will come, don't worry!

My daughter did this too, no biggie. I would count with her and when she got to 12 I would get louder and say "thhhhirrrr TEEEN! FOUUUURRRR TEEN!", changing the lilt of my voice so it was a game. She knows how to count very well now but still grins at me when she gets to 13 and 14, sometimes I chime in like I used to and it makes her giggle. Don't worry, it will come. =)

My oldest daughter did that for quite some time, too. What we did, was to take those numbers and use them independently from twelve.
We just talked about 13. We found goofy ways to talk about it without actually counting up to it. Then later, we'd count only to 13 for a while, then add 14 and on up to 20.
Break it down into steps like that, and that will help him to remember.

I wouldn't worry about it. My son turned 3 in November & used to skip 14 & 15 consistently. He would do the same thing it sounds like your son is doing. Counts so fast & is excited to get to twenty & just skips those numbers. We just kept telling him what a good job he was doing, but letting him know that he was skipping numbers. He's got it now, but I would say just in the past few months. Sometimes we would count with him & just emphasize 14 & 15. Anyway, I know it's frustrating now, but I'm sure he'll get it soon. Afterall, he's learning a lot for a little guy who's not even 3 yet! Good luck!

Ah! My son did this too for a while and then he would start saying what sounded like "14" "14" because maybe to them the numbers sound the same or it's just too hard to say those numbers. Here's what we did, when we'd play a game like GO FISH, my son would count his cards and my cards to determine the winner. We counted very slowly and when we got to 12 we slowed down even more. I had him watch my mouth and then try to say it on his own. When you say 13, your tongue sticks out through your teeth a little bit and when you say 14 your teeth touch your lips a little bit. This really helped and too this day when we are counting he always stops to look at me when he gets to 13 or 14 and he is 4 years old and can count to 100. So, really...just work with him because those are both hard words for the little ones. Good luck!

My daughter did the exact same thing when until she was about 5-1/2. The problem is that most kids can't say the "th" sound required for "thirteen" until they are between 5-7. So when they get to 13, 14 when counting, the "Th" sounds an awful lot like the "f" sound and it confuses them. What helped us was to give her a different pronunciation to say the number 13, to use as a placeholder. For instance, she said "tur-teen" or "three-teen." Once she was able to say something for "13" that sounded different than "14" she was able to count much better and eventually just started saying "thirteen" correctly. Like your son, she counted to 20 without problems, then suddenly ran into this one when she was about 3-1/2. Hope that helps!

Both of my older boys consistently skipped 16 for quite a while--we gently reminded them, but not much more. They are 5 and 7 now and counting to 100 and beyond with no issues and no skipped numbers! :-)

K.
The key word her is Toddler. He is not quite three and he will get it. just think we all did something like that at one time or other. This is what I would do. Counting steps , marbles beads what ever. Make a game say you start 1 and he says 2 etc Alternate setting him up to say 13 Another way is counting beads (20 in all) He counts to 20 and visualizes two extra. another thing is you count the 20 beads first and than you tell him say each number after Mommy 1 - 1 2 - 2 Like simon says. Give him a break and observe him playing on his own and counting without missing a number. Sounds like your Son is pretty bright. Great for you to care so much to give him a jump start. All the best!S. k.

My daughter was similar, I remember she used to skip 15. She counted only to 20 from before age 2 until probably 4 and a half. Then she seemed to all of a sudden count to 100, and could count by fives and tens too!

I wouldn't worry a bit!

This is very normal at this age. I would not worry about it. Go back to only counting to 12 and then add 13. When he's counting to 13 then add 14 and so forth. I count with the kids in my care all the time. Snack time is a great time to count how many crackers, raisins etc.. Also when you go for walks count 12 trees and the next day count 13 trees etc. I would still sometimes count higher since he is only mixing up a few numbers.

Nothing to worry about! So many kids do this when they are first learning. Rest assured this is not a sign of something wrong with your child. All three of my kids did this, my neighbors kid is doing this right now, my best friend's tripplets are going through this exact same thing.

Both of my children also did this, but both of them did it (or are doing it) with 16. I thought it was odd that my daughter did it, but when we would count together, I would make it a point to say sixteen loud enough for her to notice that she was missing it. She outgrew it. My son who is now 3 is doing the exact same thing with the exact same number. Very strange, but nothing to worry about. Good luck.

yes, there's something about 13 and 14 with my daughter (4) also. I noticed on the pre-screen for K, she was only required to count to 12 and wonder if that is what they practice regularly at pre-school?

In any case, we've started a new game. However high she can count at bedtime, she gets to stay up for those many more minutes. So far she goes from 1 to 12 and then to 17 and back to eleven-teen, :-) That gets her 12 minutes and then we practice counting the rest. She can't tell time yet so I just get her ready for bed a little earlier....

cheers,

W.

Hi K.,

I love some of the ideas on here, and I have to tell you that my boys did this, too. One of them with numbers, and one of them with the alphabet. However, let's remember he is not even three yet, so the fact that he can count to 20 is great in and of itself, whether he is missing numbers or not. He won't even have to get to 15 when they test him for Kindergarten. I would just let it go for now. I love the suggestions that some gave to help remember those numbers, but the last thing you want to do is get over-zealous and turn it into a chore for him. Keep it simple, or ignore it altogether, and one day you will realize he did it right all on his own.

Good luck!
M.

They might just be harder for him to say. When he counts & skips them, stop him & remind him of those #'s, or show him them visually via books & puzzles. My son is 22 mo. and has known his abc's for 5 mo. now. However, recently, he's been skipping L & N. I've been doing what I suggested to you & today he said the alphabet correctly (btw, it's not because the song slurs them together, he doesn't know the song, he just memorized the letters in order). Good luck & don't worry about it.

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