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Sentence Building for your Child

Somewhere between "No!" and "I'm not cleaning my room!" kids learn to put a couple of words together and speak in simple sentences. Around age 2 or a bit earlier, your child will start sounding a lot like a caveman, saying stuff like "Daddy go" or "More cracker." It means his brain is developing rapidly, says Lise Eliot, Ph.D., an associate professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School and author of "What's Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life".

Two-year-olds are usually able to put words in the right order, and their sentences tend to have a noun paired with a verb or an adjective. At this point, though, words that aren't crucial to the sentence's meaning, like "of," "am," "do," or "in," get left out. By age 3, kids create longer and longer phrases, and try to conjugate verbs ("Daddy goes" instead of "Daddy go"), though they still might leave out little words like "of" or "in."

To promote your child's sentence-building:

Talk to him. He'll model his sentences after yours. Just be sure to give him plenty of time in between your sentences to respond to you.

Read to him. That way, he'll hear a variety of sentence structures.

Be patient. Even if your toddler isn't stringing many words together yet, as long as he understands what you say most of the time, there's probably nothing to be concerned about. The longer sentences will come soon.

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