Are Toddlers That Talk Too Much Smart?

By Alice Drinkworth
Chatting with Dad on the phone.
Chatting with Dad on the phone.

A chatty toddler will follow you to the bathroom, talking to you under the crack of the door, asking an avalanche of questions whether you are prepared to answer or not. Precocious tots may ask other adults questions or reveal too much information to patrons at the grocery store. Parents often consider a language explosion in a toddler a sign of intelligence. The question is, are they right?

Toddler Talk

Talkative toddlers demonstrate a command for their language. They can voice the questions in their heads and pronounce the words in a way that is understandable. The average 2-year-old understands most of what you say to him, but starts speaking in two- or three-word sentences. In a year, she may graduate to using four-, five- and six-word sentences. She will start using pronouns (me, you, they).

Curiosity and the 2-Year-Old

Talkative toddlers ask a lot of questions. His language explosion and natural curiosity may lead parents to think the motormouth is the next Einstein, or at least smarter than Bobby down the street who drools and says only “ball.” These parents may not be wrong about the intelligence of their child, but his language as a toddler is not evidence of genius. Language development is not a reliable indicator of intelligence, or even a sign that the child has a greater vocabulary, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics. Children acquire language at different rates, and how they choose to use their knowledge is still more variable.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Talkative mothers are more likely to have talkative children. No surprise there. Apples don’t fall far from their trees, making it likely that Chatty Cathy’s daughter Brooke will be babbling more than usual. It may not lead to Mensa membership, but most toddlers could benefit from more chatter from mothers. Toddlers build vocabulary by hearing others speak. Read to her, sing a song or talk about your day to help your child learn about language.

Extrovert vs Introvert

Personality plays a role in how much a toddler talks. Extroverted children will talk more than introverted children. This is not a sign of intelligence, but of personality. An extroverted child will let his thoughts be known to the world, or at least the cashier at the grocery store and a few patrons. An introverted child may have a similar command of language, but keep it in his head as he watches the world. His vocabulary could be equal to the chatty extrovert, but he doesn’t express it.

About the Author

Alice Drinkworth has been a writer and journalist since 1995. She has written for community newspapers, college magazines and Drinkworth earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Wisconsin and won a media award for her in-depth coverage of local politics. She is also a certified master gardener.