How Can I Encourage My Two Year Old's Speech & Language Development?

Written by samantha volz
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How Can I Encourage My Two Year Old's Speech & Language Development?
By 2 years old, children are developing quickly in their speech and language patterns. (child image by Renata Osinska from

Children reach a number of development milestones in their struggle to learn speech and language, according to the Kids Health Network from the Nemours Center for Children's Health Media. The network estimates that by age 2, children will usually know and speak at least 50 partial words and will be able to combine two words, such as "baby cry" or "daddy tall." Two-year olds are also usually able to respond to two-step commands, such as "Put down the toy and bring me the cup." If you worry that your child is falling behind such speech and language milestones, there are a number of steps you can take to help encourage such development.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Picture books
  • Child's toys

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  1. 1

    Communicate verbally with your child as much as possible. Speak with clear and simple words, and speak slowly, so that your child will have a chance to hear and imitate what you say. Talk to the child about everyday things, such as what you will cook for dinner or the names of people in pictures around your home. The more the child can hear, the more he will imitate.

  2. 2

    Read picture books to your child. Like before, read clearly and slowly. Highlight important words that are pictured in the books; for instance, if you see a picture of a rabbit in the book, repeat the word slowly and multiple times while pointing to the picture. This will help the child associate the picture with the word.

  3. 3

    Read and participate in more complicated stories as the child's development progresses. Move into nursery rhymes or songs, so that the child will learn rhyme and rhythm.

  4. 4

    Play a yes-no game with your child. Ask the child questions like, "Are you a boy? Can the dog fly?" This will enable the child to use basic critical thinking skills to evaluate what you say and form a correct response.

  5. 5

    Ask your child questions that require a definitive answer, so that he will have to use the vocabulary he knows in order to answer you. For instance: "Do you want to wear the green shirt or the blue shirt? Do you want to eat an apple or a banana?" The child will get a sense of independence because he makes his own decisions and will also exercise the vocabulary he already knows.

  6. 6

    Place familiar objects, or pictures of familiar objects, into a box or container. As the child removes the objects, ask him to tell you what the object is and what it does. If he pulls out a ball, ask him what it is called, and what he does with it (play, bounce, roll, etc.). This will enable the child to expand vocabulary and to connect actions with objects.

  7. 7

    Reinforce all spoken communication from your child. Maintain eye contact when he speaks to show him that you care about what he says. Respond to his speech with speech of your own: praise him for answering a question correctly, repeat what he said to show you understand, etc. Such acknowledgement will foster his confidence in his speaking and language skills and will encourage him to communicate more.

Tips and warnings

  • If your child appears to be falling well behind the developmental expectations, contact your paediatrician or a speech professional to have the child evaluated for special treatment.
  • Use baby talk only when it is absolutely necessary to convey a message to your child. Always back baby talk up with real words so that your child can associate the two and not get stuck in the baby talk stage.

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