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By age 2, speech should be clearQ....


By age 2, speech should be clear

Q. At what age should a child start talking clearly? I know a 22-month-old who says "Come on" as she reaches for your hand, but the words aren't clear. She also says a lot of garbled words that could be sentences -- but others have no clue what she is saying.

A. If by the age of 2 a child is not speaking any words clearly enough to be understood, I would recommend an evaluation -- a complete hearing test and a consultation with a speech therapist who works with small children (at the closest children's hospital).

This child is surely trying, and she's making sounds, but she may not be hearing well and is imitating what she hears. It's also important for those around her to speak clearly and directly to her, looking at her as they do.

Q. How do you handle sibling rivalry when the younger child is the aggressor? My 2-year-old knows how to push the buttons of her 4-year-old brother (grabbing his favorite toys, holding his special blanket). She also pushes or hits him when she gets angry.

He's been very good about not hitting back, and we've been giving her short time-outs when she hits, but the aggressive behavior continues. Any suggestions?

A. Younger children are often the aggressors in setting off sibling rivalry. You may have been too effective in urging your son not to protect himself from his sister. He may need now to learn to stand up for himself. Let him push her away. It sounds as if she can take care of herself if he does get more aggressive.

It may be time for you to let them deal with each other. When you are involved, you turn the situation into a triangle. Although you must make sure that neither is seriously hurt, letting them learn how to handle each other is a more valuable goal.

Sibling rivalry is one side of a coin; sibling caring is the other.

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