Talking with your toddler

Toddlers are learning new words and phrases daily and will want to practise them with you.

Now your toddler is able to take part in a conversation and has a longer attention span, they will want to talk more frequently.

At this age, they can follow simple instructions, answer simple questions and may start to imitate the words or phrases they hear you or others say. You might notice your child sometimes talks to themselves while playing, and starts asking a lot of why questions as they develop an understanding of the world.

Toddlers are developing independence and social skills, and talking with you plays a big role in their development. By making time to talk and giving your attention, you are making your child feel valued and boosting their self-esteem.

Having conversations with your toddler can be a fun way to get to know their interest, fears and worries or creative ideas, while allowing you to establish boundaries, manners and respect.

Starting conversations
  • Jokes, rhymes and stories = a bit of fun to encourage toddlers in conversation.
  • Using imaginative language, like ‘I wonder’ and ‘Imagine if’ encourages creative thinking.
  • Visiting new environments (the park, the shops or the beach) = new experiences.
  • Talking about what they see, hear or feel = thoughtful communication.
  • Getting involved in playtime = genuine and unstructured conversations.
Using body language

Not all communication is verbal, and you will pick up meaning from your child’s body language and expressions naturally.

Your child will also understand your own body language and expressions, such as:

  • holding eye contact
  • facial expressions
  • using gestures.

Some toddlers will love to talk, but may need a gentle reminder to also stop and listen at times too. By stopping and giving your child your full attention when you listen, you are not only boosting their self-esteem and encouraging communication, but also teaching them how to be a good listener. By giving meaningful responses and understanding their problems, you are helping your child develop empathy.

Image Mother and child smile as they share a hug

Published — 10 October 2016 Last updated — 19 July 2017