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There are plenty of articles out there for information on language development for toddlers but often what parents want to know is when can they have a two-way conversation with them and start to find out what they think, feel and want with their words. There’s a big difference between a toddler repeating words and actually being able to constructively use them in a conversation.
For parents, finally finding out how they feel using their language skills is a joy and makes parenting a lot easier. Finally, they’ll be able to tell you that they’re hungry instead of just crying, being snotty or being grumpy, they’ll tell what they want to eat instead of you having to fish out a load of stuff from the fridge before getting what they want out as well as finding out in general what they want to do that day.
When can toddlers have conversations?
Toddlers can begin to have basic conversations between the age of 2 and 3. Specifically, they will start to ask and answer questions when they are around 28 months old. Around this age, they will also be able to explain what’s going on around them to you and what they would like to next.
The conversations will be very basic, with 2-3 words at a time but you will be able to understand and get a very good idea of what they’re thinking and what they’re trying to say.
By the age of 3, you will have full-blown conversations with your toddlers but they will start from humble beginnings.
What kind of conversations can you have with a young toddler?
When you’re able to have a conversation with your toddler for the first time they will be very simple. Typically, you can ask them what they would like to eat and they will reply with answers such as ‘green apple’ or ‘pot yog’. If they’ve been playing a friend or a relative you can ask them what they got up to and they can respond with ‘red toy’ or ‘blue car’. The conversation element depends on you and your follow up questions.
How far your conversations go is down to you. If you’ve asked them what they got up to at Nana’s house then don’t leave it after their first answer, dig deeper and you can find yourself getting a surprising amount of feedback from them. At this age, their memory is getting better and better and can remember even the smallest of details which can often surprise parents but if you don’t ask they won’t tell!
Toddlers love being listened to as they’ve had to do all the listening for the first two years.
What can you do to get toddlers to converse?
Toddlers’ language development varies from child to child but what remains a constant is the impact of having adults and older children talk around them. To get a toddler to converse more you’ll need to talk to them more, ask them plenty of questions and let them know when they get the words right to make it a pleasant outcome for them when they speak. Just before going to bed when it’s all quiet is a great place to talk.
If they say words you’re not sure or have used them incorrectly be sure to gently set them right so they can continue to improve. In time both you and your toddler will be having full conversations every day and finally know exactly what each other are feeling and thinking.