While I was studying child development, I was fascinated by the research of Arnold Gesell, so I was excited when I discovered that the Gesell Institute of Human Development has a series of books that describe your child year by year. When Q-ball turned one, I posted one of my favorite bits from the book here, and at 18 months, I shared Gesell's theory of disequilbrium. (If you're still following links, here's my overview of Gesell's research.) As I just completed, Your Two-Year-Old, I wanted to again share my favorite figure what that book.
Using long-term observations, the Gesell Institute determined that at two-years-old, a child is much more likely to talk to adults than to other children. In these interactions, the two-year-old will likely use two or three word phrases rather than single-word sentences. However, the youngster is still certainly controlling the conversation- choosing to not always answer when the adult addresses him or just repeating the adult's original comment. If a two-year-old does speak to someone else his age, the conversation is typically an attempt to maintain control over his space or stuff- "no, mine!" or "me want ball." While his verbalization is increasing overall, this is the last year of life that a child is more likely to say "no" through motor behavior rather than verbally. When given a request that he simply does not wish to follow, he may just walk away, look away, or continue to play.
All this being said, the two-year-old's favorite person to talk to is himself! This makes sense given that these little ones are still firmly in their egocentric phase. This self-talk is often easily observed during independent play, especially imaginary play. At times, this self-talk may move towards an adult when the child wants to brag about all of his accomplishments- cleaning up by himself, feeding his own bear, or using the toilet alone.
What's your two-year-old talking about?