Communicating with our kids is one of the most pleasurable and rewarding parts of parenting. Children learn by absorbing information through daily interactions and experiences not only with us, but with other adults, family members, other kids, and the world. Communicating With Your Child The more interactive conversation and play kids are involved in, the more they learn. Reading books, singing, playing word games, and simply talking to toddlers will build their vocabulary and teach listening skills. Here are a few suggestions to help improve your child's communication skills: Talk to your toddler about what he or she did during the day or plans to do tomorrow. "I think it's going to rain this afternoon. What shall we do?" Or discuss the day's events at bedtime. Play make-believe games. Read favorite books over and over and encourage your child to join in with words he or she knows. Encourage "pretend" reading (letting your child "read" a book to you). Vocabulary and Communication Patterns Between the ages of 2 and 3, kids have a huge jump in language skills: At age 2, most kids can follow directions and say 50 or more words. Many combine words in short phrases and sentences. Kids this age usually can follow two-step instructions, such as "pick up the ball and bring it to Daddy." By age 3, a toddler's vocabulary usually is 200 or more words, and many kids can string together three- or four-word sentences. Kids at this stage of language development can understand more and speak more clearly. By now, you should be able to understand about 75% of what your toddler says. Kids should be using language freely and starting to solve problems and learn concepts. They usually can engage in a simple question-and-answer session. They also can count three objects correctly, begin to tell stories, and know their first and last name. When Should I Call the Doctor? If you think your child has trouble with hearing, language development, or speech clarity, talk to your doctor. A hearing test may be one of the first steps in finding out if your child has a hearing problem. Age 2 is not too young for a referral for a speech/language evaluation, particularly if a child is not following directions, answering simple questions, or saying enough words. Communication problems for 2- to 3-year-olds include: hearing problems trouble following directions poor vocabulary growth unclear speech stuttering Some parents worry that a toddler who is not speaking may have autism. Children with autism and related conditions may have delayed speech or other problems with communication, but poor social interactions and limited or restricted interests or patterns of behavior are also hallmarks of this disorder. If you have any questions or concerns about your child's development, talk with your doctor. Back to Articles Related Articles Autism Spectrum Disorder Autism spectrum disorder affects a child's ability to communicate and learn. Early intervention and treatment can help kids improve skills and do their best. Read More Auditory Processing Disorder Kids with APD can't understand what they hear in the same way other kids do. That's because their ears and brain don't fully coordinate. But early diagnosis and a variety of strategies can help them. Read More Stuttering Many young kids go through a stage when they stutter. Stuttering usually goes away on its own but in some cases lasts longer. Read More Fitness and Your 2- to 3-Year-Old Kids this age are naturally active, so be sure to provide lots of opportunities for your child to practice basic skills, such as running, kicking, and throwing. Read More Medical Care and Your 2- to 3-Year-Old Regular well-child exams are essential to keeping kids healthy and up-to-date with immunizations against dangerous diseases. Here's what to expect at the doctor's office. Read More Growth and Your 2- to 3-Year-Old During the third year of life, toddlers are extremely active and mobile, and are learning in very physical ways. Read More Speech-Language Therapy Working with a certified speech-language pathologist can help a child with speech or language difficulties. Read More Hearing Evaluation in Children Hearing problems can be overcome if they're caught early, so it's important to get your child's hearing screened early and checked regularly. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.