Inconsistent Toddler Talk

By Pam Marshalla

Q: My two-year-old client uses words inconsistently. For example, he only uses “more” when he wants food, and he only says “mama” once or twice a day.

Two-year-olds are notoriously inconsistent about everything they do. They go to bed right away one night, and scream bloody murder about it for two hours the next.  You ask them if they want a cookie, they say cookie and take it one minute, and the next they won’t even look up at you.  Welcome to the toddler’s world.

Two-year-olds are “on their own agenda.”  This is how they should be 🙂  This is a sign that they have reached the two-year-level. They are interested only in what they are interested in, and they don’t do what we want them to very well. They don’t really care what we want them to do, either.  They are discovering, for the first time in their lives, that they can make their own choices, and they do so at every turn.

In terms of using “more” only for food, research shows that children use first words with a global and not a specific meaning.  You are teaching him that “more” means “more,” but he may not see it that way.  Perhaps the child thinks the word “more” means “eat” or “I want to eat that.”  Therefore he would use “more” only for food.  That would be expected in a very young child.  If he continues to show that kind of rigidity of word meaning over time, however, you may have to look into whether this client has a language learning problem of some type. Time will tell.

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