Frequently Asked Questions about Communication in Young Children 18 to 24 Months

Concerns about pronounciation

My little boy is just coming up to two and he is talking all the time but the problem is that I find it so hard to understand what he is saying to me. I want to help him to pronounce things properly but I am not sure what the best approach is. What should I do?

Your son learns how to speak by hearing how all the people around him speak. He listens to you and tries to make the same sounds for himself. Making the right sounds and eventually speaking relies on a combination of many things such as how we move our lips, tongue and throat and all these things take time to develop. The only help your son needs is to hear you talking clearly and lots of opportunities to practise for himself. Don't be tempted to correct what he says because he won't be able to say it properly until he is ready and your correction of his attempts may squash his confidence to try and make himself understood. It really is as simple as talking to him and listening to his responses, time will do the rest.

Book recommendations

What kind of books are suitable for a child of 18 months. I go into children's bookshops and I am overwhelmed by choice but I find it difficult to choose which books are appropriate for a child of this age.

At 18 months your child's greatest need with regard to language is to find the words for all the things in the world around him. He is thirsty for words at this time and books are a wonderful way of exposing him to all sorts of varied vocabulary. You should focus on books that tell simple stories about the things that your child comes across in his everyday life, like going to the park or the shops, getting dressed, playing with siblings or friends, visiting grandma, going on a bus or a train or to the seaside or the zoo. He will relate easily to these books because they are about the kind of things that he is familiar with. They help him to understand his own life and provide him with the vocabulary to describe it. Books about fantasy are not appropriate at this age because your child is not able to understand the difference between what is real and what is not and so instead of adding clarity to his life they will confuse him.