DEFINITION OF LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS
At two years old, children are still developing their language and communication skills, which allow them to understand what others are saying to them, and communicate back to others. Children might communicate verbally or non-verbally, sometimes only using gestures or sounds to communicate.
There is a wide range of what is considered “normal” in regards to a 2-year-old’s language and communication abilities. There are two types of language, receptive language and expressive language.
Receptive Language Skills
Most of the time, a 2-year-old understands more than what they can express verbally. In regards to that, teaching an infant/toddler sign language is a great practice to implement with your infant/toddler because they will start to understand very early how a physical motion correlates to something they want/need.
Another area to consider is the 2-year-olds hearing ability. It’s common for infants and toddlers to develop ear infections and sometimes multiple ear infections can effect their hearing. With early intervention, this also can be investigated and corrected with the help of a specialist, an audiologist.
Expressive Language Skills
If you’re not hearing a lot of words, observe your child’s behavior. Do they show gestures such as, pointing, reaching for something, making eye contact with you, nodding their head, touch you to get your attention? Those are non verbal ways of communicating, and if those behaviors are happening, that means the 2-year-old has receptive language and can understand a great deal. The expressive language comes later and sometimes it won’t come until right at age 2 or a few months after.
Usually by 2 years old a child can verbally say about 50 words. This can of course vary and just because your 2-year-old isn’t saying 50 words yet, doesn’t necessarily mean they have a delay in their language and communication skills. You can talk to your 2-year-old’s pediatrician if you are concerned about their language and communication skills and can be referred to a speech-language pathologist for a screening.
The good news is, when we take action early, speech and language therapy can help immensely and over time the delay improves if not goes away completely.
2-YEAR-OLD LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS MILESTONES
- Follow simple commands. “Come here,” “Sit down,” “Stand Up.”
- Understand simple questions “Are you ok?” “Do you want to eat?” “Do you want a drink?”
- Say simple phrases “More please,” “Help,” “Hold me.”
- Say 50+ words
- Use gestures and make eye contact with primary caregiver
LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS ACTIVITIES
- Emphasize words during your daily routine. Example: “Oh look, you found your shoe! Let’s put on your shoe!” By doing this over and over, your 2-year-old will start to connect the word with the object.
- Sing songs throughout your daily routine. Simple songs are great such as, “Wheels On The Bus,” “If You’re Happy And You Know It,” “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
- Ask your 2-year-old open ended questions during the day, not just “Yes” or “No,” questions.
- Read books with your 2-year-old.
- Face to face and intentional interactions. Play with your 2-year old, actively participate in their play!
- Place things out of your 2-year-old’s reach. Have their sippy cup in view, but not where they can reach it so they have to ask/use a gesture to get their cup when they are thirsty.
As previously mentioned, 2-year-old’s language and communication milestones will vary, sometimes they need more time to develop and by age 3 you notice a huge difference! All children develop at difference rates, however it’s important to know the norms so you can keep track of your 2-year-old’s progress with their language and communication.
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