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?

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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! :-)

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