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Why does my 2 year old talk so much?

QUESTION: My daughter is 2 years nine months, and sometimes drives me crazy with questions. She wants to talk all the time! I don't want to ignore her, but I find it hard to not lose patience. Can you explain to me why this constant chatter is necessary? Maybe it will help me cope with it, if I can see it as a "stage" she is going through.

ANSWER: Your daughter is making her own personal discovery about how the world works. She is likely to be quite excited about this revelation and just can't get enough explaining!

Language development is essential to higher thinking. Taking the time to talk to your child pays off in the ability to develop higher reasoning skills. Why? Because when you take the time to explain why things work the way they do (whether it is why a plant needs water or why a toy cannot be bought immediately because the store is closed) you give them practice in understanding the relationship between words and events.

We use words to think! Words are symbolic representations of ideas and concepts. The more your child has practice linking explanations to events, or enjoys following the concepts presented in a story you read, the greater the opportunity your child has to develop a vocabulary which can be used for independent thinking and abstract reasoning.

Words are tools for abstract thinking. Reading stories and telling stories about what the family's plans are for the next day, encourages your child to visualize the future. And of course answering those "why", "what" and "how come" questions so popular with this age child really matters!

Let's take a brief look at some of the things that a child this age is likely to be capable of, and how these abilities interact in your child's development. You might notice that she can whisper, walk on tiptoes, use the toilet and feed herself. Mastery of physical processes brings confidence, independence and a readiness to interact socially. As you may have observed, your child has likely become more active in the decisions, activities and conversations in the household. No longer a baby, she may even have opinions and ideas of her own and offer commentary! Increased social skills, in turn, facilitate opportunities for further cognitive development.

Children of this age also recognize and use humor, as well as perform simple tasks such as picking up toys and putting them in a basket. In fact, cooperation, laughter and an ability to follow simple directions can make this age delightful, as well as challenging.

Rest assured that your daughter will not always be so very talkative. Later, this discovery will not be so new, and silent thinking will be possible!

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Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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