When your toddler starts to talk, he'll pick up cues -- and encouragement -- from how you listen and respond. That's especially important if he's got a speech quirk like lisping or stuttering, which is often normal for new speakers. Some tips from Dorothy Dougherty, speech pathologist and author of Teach Me How to Say It Right:
Speak slowly. Your child will have an easier time imitating you, and he'll do best when he's not pressured to keep up a too-fast pace.
Don't interrupt. It may be frustrating to wait for your child to finish his thought, but he won't learn as much if you say it for him.
Be a good audience. As with anyone, direct eye contact (you should even squat down to your child's level) and an interested tone of voice are key in encouraging him to open up.
Don't suggest changes. Telling him to take his time or think before he speaks may make him feel uncertain.
Most speech problems tend to fade on their own, but if you have any concerns, ask your pediatrician about a referral to a speech pathologist.