Your 26-month-old: Language red flags

Your 26-month-old: Language red flags

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Your 2-year-old now

Between ages 2 and 3, your child's spoken vocabulary will grow to up to 300 words – and he'll understand up to 900 words. Not all children begin conversing in clear, complete sentences at age 2, however. Some rely on gestures and a bare-bones vocabulary month after month. Others chatter away – but with pronunciations that only you can decipher. In both of these situations, a child may be quite normal, just working at his own pace through the complex process of mastering speech.

Mispronunciation is common. The usual trouble spots: th (which comes out like a d or f instead); l (which comes out like a w or y); and s (which sounds lispy, like eth). Preschoolers also tend to jumble the order of words in a rush to get them out ("Mommy now cup juice Sam") or, for the same reason, to stutter ("J- j- joo- juice"). These problems usually resolve themselves over time without any speech therapy.

Red flags for speech development at this age include:

  • Barely speaking at all.
  • Not imitating others' speech.
  • Omitting whole consonants ("og" for "dog").
  • Not using two- to four-word sentences by the time he's turning 3.
  • Never asking questions ("What dat?") or seeming frustrated at not being understood.

Your life now

Many child specialists feel that age 2 is an appropriate age to begin using time-outs as a teaching tool. Now your child is old enough to understand cause and effect, as well as sit still a bit. If you choose to use time-outs, here are the key elements to making them successful:

  • A warning. Give your child a chance to stop the naughty activity "or else you'll need a time-out to calm down."
  • A place. You can designate a special "time-out" place or just have your child sit right where he is. (Some parents carry a small "time-out" towel for this purpose.)
  • The right demeanor. Stay calm and matter-of-fact. Don't lecture during the time-out; the point is that it's time away from what your child loves best in the world: your attention.
  • The right focus: Make clear it's the behavior you dislike (not your child).
  • A timer. One minute per year is the typical penalty, but for a 2-year-old, just 30 seconds to a minute is long enough.
  • Redirection. Don't go on and on about what your child did wrong. When the time's up, move her to a happy new activity.

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