Friday, December 31, 2010

Getting my two year old to talk

Questioner: Sarah


Subject: Getting my 2 year old to talk

Question: Hello,

I am a stay at home mom, and don't have many friends or relatives nearby with little kids. My 2 year old daughter (actually she turns 2 next month) stays with me at home most of the time, and I'm not sure what her level of speech ought to be. She gestures, and says small words like,"UP","DOWN","SIT DOWN","GET UP", "HUNGLY (instead of hungry),"EAT" ,"DIAPER", "COLOR" (for crayons), "BOOK","HUG","PLEASE","THANK YOU", "HELLO","BYE", "NICE", "WHAT's UP", and dozen more of that kind.

She can sing a couple of nursery rhymes, (words not all clear), count to 10, knows the alphabet song, and can pretty much immitate any word we say. But she doesn't ALWAYS use those words herself, she just repeats them when we say it to her.

She understands "NO", but doesn't use it when I ask her if she wants milk or something. I can understand what she wants mostly, but a lot of it is gibberish, and I don't think other's would get what she was trying to say. Is this normal?


She's intelligent overall , has a real good memory and recognises shapes and songs and even some dance moves! But I don't know if an almost two year old should be saying more by now. Is there something I can do to get her to start talking in full short sentences?

Or is she at a normal learning pace, and I can relax about it?

Thank you for your advice.

Answer: Dear Sarah:

First relax and have fun with her. Trust me she won't be little for long.

As for her speaking this maybe part of the problem " I can understand what she wants mostly, but a lot of it is gibberish, and I don't think other's would get what she was trying to say." Possibly as mothers we think we need to meet their every need. Even though you know what she wants you need to create an environment that tells her she is responsible for communicating her needs. Try asking her what she wants and waiting a second or two to see if she answers you, then (when she does not) role play what she should be saying to you and how you would answer her. Two years olds mimic alot.

Make sure you are reading age appropriate stories to her every day as nothing will increase vocabulary as much as reading does for a child. Also, try and find books which require her to participate in the story by answering. Even if she doesn't she will receive a cue that she is suppose to answer.

Some children take longer to speak than others. It is not necessarily an indication of their intelligence. Often times more introverted children speak later than extroverted children however their vocabulary can be more extensive when they do decide they need to talk.

Lastly, if she is not putting sentences together or you do not feel comfortable with where she is by the time she is three then by all means do have her evaluated to see if there is something which may need to be addressed. However, I suspect she just needs less help getting her needs met.

Enjoy each moment.

M Kay Keller
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


QUESTION: Thank you. Overall she uses about 70 or more words, and probably understands a whole lot more.

You've made an excellent point, I do try to meet her needs without her having to ask many many times. I'll do what you've suggested. Are there any recommended books you could suggest I read to her?

Thank you. It's a big help.

Answer: Dear Sarah:

You will want to read books to her that require her to participate. I would suggest taking her with you to the bookstore and engaging her in picking them out. The best books are going to be the ones she shows an interest. General children this age love lots of pictures in their books as well as opportunities to participate.