#279 11 Skills Toddlers Must Use BEFORE Words Emerge-#2 Responds to People


In the fifth show in my series 11 Skills Toddlers Must Use BEFORE Words Emerge, we’ll be talking about the second skill:


Listen here:

I can’t overemphasize how important this skill is in helping a child learn to communicate. Here’s why…

Communicating always involves at least 2 people. When a child doesn’t routinely respond and interact when you try to talk to him, play with him, or teach him something, it’s highly unlikely he’s learning anything!

In my experience, parents first begin to suspect there’s a problem with a child’s development when he or she seems to ignore other people or avoid contact. Sometimes parents mis-characterize a child as being stubborn or lazy when the real problem is, he doesn’t know how to respond. We talked about this A LOT on the show today. Listen to my explanations.

The good news is…


Using the simple, straightforward tips in this podcast, you’ll help a child learn to notice you and eventually, begin to interact with you. Here’s a summary of my recommendations:

  1. Get down on his or her level.
  2. Place yourself where the child is most likely to look.
  3. Give a child a reason to include you. Make yourself FUN to look at and sound FUN to listen to!
  4. Do what he likes.
  5. Emphasize interaction (eye contact, closeness, a sense that the child wants to be with you) over every other goal, no matter what you’re doing with a child.
  6. Play, play, play! And when you’re sick of all that, play some more!
  7. Reward attention to you.

I’ve written a whole therapy manual about helping a child learn to respond and participate. The book is Teach Me To Play WITH You which provides step-by-step instructions for 50+ little social games and easy play routines for toddlers who don’t consistently respond to other people.

Listen here:

Have you missed the other shows in this series? No worries! Listen here:





Ready to move on??? Next week’s show is here! #280 – Developing an Attention Span

OR get the shows free on iTunes. Search Teach Me To Talk in the iTunes stores.

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a reply below!

Until next week…. Laura

Posted in



  1. Vanessa Ardan on August 18, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Hi Laura,
    My daughter just turned 4 and she is a late talker(plus we are a bilingual family). She has receptive and expressive language delay ( we thought she had a form of high-functional autism bc she wasn’t really into other people… She just like few people, she even had a phase that even dad wasn’t her fav ). We got her tested twice (including second opinion) and thankfully she didn’t get any label.
    We see progress for sure (including a ton of join attention with me, wanting to include me when she is naming all her animals and etc- plus loves her little sis and try to feed/give her a bath). But when family comes over last week she kinda did her own thing. She played by them, she would show me the baby (her cousin) but she wouldn’t really play with the other kids. Sometimes she does some weird things like follow objects with her eyes, but she also play very appropriate with her toys as well.
    She is pretty laid back, no sensory problem that I am aware of, no crazy melt down, no strict repetitive behavior. She knows her colors,animals, shapes and is happy to seat with me and learn more (also she loves when we read book to her- witch make no sense to me since she has a receptive language delay).
    Anyways, we think our sweet daughter is a puzzle to us (sometimes we are sure she has something like high-functional autism) but sometimes with all her progress and her join attention (and big increase of eye contact in the last couple months as her receptive language improves) we think she is fine.
    Anyways, sorry I wrote too much! Please let me know what you think 😉
    Thank you so much Laura!

  2. Alex on September 14, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    hi, been listening to your shows for a while now. from Kenya. I have a 19 month old boy who has been diagnosed as being on the spectrum. We are following your program and ordered some books. A quick question: There are days he seems to really understand what we want then there are days, its like he has no idea nor interest in anything we are trying to teach him/interact. How do we deal with this.??
    Do we focus on social interaction before getting him to learn to play with toys?

Leave a Comment

Sign Up for your Free eBook


Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Subscribe to the Podcast in iTunes

Downloadable PDF's

Browse Products

Featured Product

Recent Posts