1-2y Attention and Listening Skills

What is it?

Good listening skills are important for being able to join in with activities and interacting with others.

The development of listening and attention skills is essential to promote a child’s understanding and use of language.

What to expect?

By 2 years children will usually:

  • Listen and respond to familiar words, such as daddy, snack.
  • Enjoy sound making objects.
  • Focus on an activity of their choice, but finds it hard to be directed by an adult.
  • Listen to and enjoys patterns in rhymes and stories.

Information & advice

You can help by:

  • Always calling your child by name before you speak.
  • Approaching your child before you speak.
  • Getting down to your child’s level whenever possible.
  • Encouraging (but not trying to force) eye contact.
  • Reduce background noise e.g. turning the off the TV/radio to help your child focus their attention on you.


Activities to try:

  • Sing nursery rhymes with actions like ‘incy-wincey spider’ or ‘round and round the garden’. Pause and wait for your child to signal they want another turn e.g. they may look up at you or say ‘more’ or ‘again’
  • Play games like ‘pat-a-cake’ and ‘peek-a-boo’ games, which are repetitive can help attention and communication skills.
  • Sharing interactive books (noisy books) can be fun e.g. these include those with flaps, different textures to explore , you might even want to make your own photo books using pictures of familiar people e.g. mummy, daddy, grandma etc.
  • Reading favourite books again and again at quiet times e.g. when its bed time, this will help them learn the story and hear the words.
  • Simple ‘ready, steady go’ games and using cause and effect toys e.g. push and go cars or pop up toys. Pause before saying go for increasing lengths of time to help hold your child’s attention.
  • Toys and objects that make a noise are great fun to look at together.