Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

When your child begins to talk

To help your child communicate with words

a boy and a man speaking as the boy holds a ball.
Ball. Big.
Yes. The ball is big and round.

A young child does not know enough words to say everything he wants to say. So he will often use a sound or word — or several words — to say many things. Do not tell your child that he said something wrong. Instead, help his language grow by filling in the words he did not say.

a child and a woman speaking as a man enters the room.
Pa...pa
That’s right. Here comes Papa.

Wait for your child to ask for something rather than giving it to him first.

a man thinking while watching a boy.
The sun is hot. Tomás seems thirsty.
the boy and the man speaking.
Water.
Yes, I’ll get you some water.
a girl speaking to a small child.
Do you want to play with the big ball or the small one, Rafael?



Ask questions that require more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.

a boy and a man speaking; the boy is very wet.
I fell in the water.
That must have been scary! What happened?






Let your child take the lead when you are talking. Talk about what he wants to talk about.


When your child’s message is unclear, let him know. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you cannot understand what your child is trying to tell you.

You might try asking him: If you still cannot understand what he is
trying to tell you, let him know.
a woman speaking to a child.
Can you say it another way? Can you show me?
a man speaking to a child.
I wish I could understand you, but I can’t.


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