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Communication and Your 2- to 3-Year-Old

Communicating with a child, from infancy onward, is one of the most pleasurable and rewarding experiences for both parent and child. Children learn by absorbing information through daily interactions and experiences with other kids, adults, and the world.

Communicating With Your Child

The more interactive conversation and play kids are involved in, the more they learn. Reading books, singing, playing word games, and simply talking to kids will increase their vocabulary while providing increased listening opportunities.

Here are a few suggestions to help improve your child's communication skills:

• Talk to your toddler about what he or she did during the day or plans to do tomorrow. ‘I think it's going to rain this afternoon. What shall we do?’ Or discuss the day's events at bedtime.

• Play make-believe games.

• Read favorite books over and over and encourage your child to join in with words he or she knows. Encourage ‘pretend’ reading (letting your child ‘read’ a book to you).

Vocabulary and Communication Patterns

Between the ages of 2 and 3, kids experience a tremendous growth spurt in language skills. By age 2, most kids can follow simple directions and speak about 50 to 200 words. Many kids also begin to echo what they hear and start combining words in short phrases.

Kids this age usually can follow additional instructions, such as ‘Come to Daddy.’ A 3-year-old's vocabulary typically is between 200 and 300 words, and many kids begin to string words together in short sentences.

Kids at this stage of language development start to understand more and speak more clearly, and they're usually able to use language to engage in a simple question-and-answer format.

By age 3, kids should be using language freely, experimenting with sounds, and beginning to use language to solve problems and learn concepts. They can also count three objects correctly and will know their age.

However, although they use and understand many words, only about 75% of what they say will be understandable to others.

If You Suspect a Problem

If you suspect your child is having trouble with hearing, language acquisition, or speech clarity, call your doctor. A hearing test may be one of the first steps in determining if your child has a hearing problem. Two years of age is not too young for a referral for a speech/language evaluation, particularly if your child is not following directions or answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to simple questions.

A speech-language pathologist (an expert who evaluates and treats speech and language disorders) may recommend:

• direct therapy

• referral to a developmental pediatrician if there is suspicion of a global developmental delay (delays in more than one area of development, including gross motor, fine motor, problem-solving, language, and social skills)

• early intervention services

• a follow-up assessment to see if your child will catch up over time

Typical Communication Problems

Communication problems for 2- to 3-year-olds include:

• hearing difficulties

• problems following directions

• poor vocabulary acquisition

• speech dysfluencies (difficulty initiating or sustaining sounds)

• delayed acquisition of phrasing skills

• unclear speech

Problems — such as stuttering — may be a developmental process that some kids will outgrow. For others, more intensive therapy may be needed. Medical professionals, such as speech pathologists, therapists, or your doctor, can help your child overcome these communication problems.

Some parents worry that a toddler who is not speaking may have autism.

Children with autism and related conditions may have delayed speech or other problems with communication, but poor social interactions, and limited or restricted interests or patterns of behavior are also hallmarks of this disorder.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child's development, talk with your doctor.
father reading books to his children

Source: kidshealth.org

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