Despite their reputation for being headstrong and determined, there’s no reason to dread the 2-year-old stage as this is a period of tremendous intellectual and social emotional change. From an increase in vocabulary to the emergence of empathy, there’s plenty to look forward to with your terrific 2-year-old this year!
A 2-year-old child will have improved their fine and gross motor skills, allowing them to run, jump, and climb with more coordination and control. They will also have better dexterity, allowing them to hold small objects and use utensils with more skill. At this stage you’ll notice your child will start to draw! Parents can also look forward to their 2-year-old being able to do things like walk up steps with alternating feet, pedal a tricycle, catch and kick large balls, hold a pencil in proper writing position, screw and unscrew things, and stack objects with greater ability. You may notice your child showing signs that they’re ready for potty training, as well!
Mentally, a 2-year-old's cognitive abilities will have developed significantly. Your little one will have a better understanding of cause and effect and will be able to follow simple instructions. They’ll even start to understand time concepts like going to bed after their bath or putting away their toys before getting to the book.
Another thing you may notice is your toddler’s play growing more complex. Rather than flitting from toy to toy arbitrarily, they may play pretend using dolls or toy cars and act out things that they’ve seen in real life. You’ll even notice a better understanding of the relationships between objects, causing them to enjoy toys that include pieces that connect, buttons, and wind-up parts. Puzzles and shape sorting toys are also great at this stage.
At 2 years old, your child will understand much of what is being said and will have a vocabulary of 50 plus words. He or she will string together 4 to 5 word sentences and will be able to follow 2 or 3 part commands (i.e: Put your coat on and then come here and get your shoes.) They’ll be able to identify most common objects and pictures. They’ll also understand words that denote physical relationships, (like “under,” “in,” and “on”) and use pronouns correctly. At this stage, your child will be working hard to express themselves. Be sure to encourage this positively and give them the time and space to practice!
Social Emotional Development
Emotionally, a 2-year-old will be learning to express their emotions more effectively and to understand the emotions of others. They will also start to develop a sense of independence and will want to do things for themselves. This can lead to some frustration and tantrums when things don't go their way. Understand that this is a time for your child to test limits, (not just yours, but her own limits or the limits of the environment,) and respond to your toddlers frustrations with compassion.
Social development is also a big part of 2-year-olds, and they will start to form friendships and interact with other children, although much of their play will still be parallel play. They will also start to understand basic social rules and will be able to take turns and share (with practice). They will begin to show empathy and concern for others. This is a great time to read books with them that talk about feelings or discuss common social situations, like how to be a good friend.
It is important to note that every child develops at their own pace, and while most 2-year-olds will be at a similar stage of development, there may be some variations. Be sure to schedule regular check-ups with your pediatrician and discuss any concerns you may have.