Using simple sentences (18 to 24 months)
Ever since your child said his first coo, he's been working toward this moment: By combining gestures, isolated sounds, and words, he can now speak in simple two-word sentences. You're thrilled, and he's thrilled: Now you can have a conversation (of sorts)! Be patient, though - even though he knows certain words, he may not fully understand their meaning for a while. To encourage his talking:
- Don't finish your toddler's sentences for him; doing so will only add to his frustration.
- Remember that he'll still resort to crying when he's too tired, hungry, cranky, or overwhelmed to use words.
- Give your child lots of opportunities to speak, especially if there are older kids in the house, too.
- As your toddler becomes more verbal, make sure you model good speech rather than correct his pronunciation or his grammar. Children who are interrupted and corrected can feel like giving up.
Learning empathy (24 months)
At this age, toddlers may begin to make the first connections between their own feelings and behavior and those of other people. This is the foundation for interacting with others and building friendships. To help your child's developing empathy:
Don't try to fix it when he feels bad. Help your child learn to cope by identifying his emotions for him - whether he's sad because his favorite toy broke or someone else is crying - and reassure him that it's okay to feel the way he does.
Watch your own emotions. Don't be shy about telling your child when you're angry, sad, or disappointed - but make sure that you're not overreacting to the situation, which can make your child feel anxious or scared.
What to do if your toddler regresses
It can be disconcerting when a toddler appears to be regressing in some way. For instance, your chatterbox may suddenly do nothing but point and cry; your avid walker may reach up and demand to be carried. All of this is normal. Toddlers are developing so many skills they can become overwhelmed. What to do when your tot regresses:
- Acknowledge her feelings. If she can't tell you what's bugging her, see if she can show you.
- Rather than seeing it as good or bad, see it as a signal. When a child regresses, she's usually telling you that she needs comfort. Let her snuggle up with you, or read her a book. She'll likely behave like her normal self soon.
You might worry if your child is delayed in reaching a milestone. But some kids are simply late bloomers; some just master certain skills before others. However, if you're concerned, speak to your doctor. For more information, go to our Motor Skill Delays guides.
A toddler is constantly learning how to do new things. Give yours loving support, and as often as possible provide a little freedom for him to strive for independence. And don't worry if he occasionally "unlearns" a skill - a little regression is just part of the process in the toddler years.