Two years flew by and your baby is in the third year of his life!
Your child is still growing and developing. If in the past they mostly knew the world through seeing, hearing and feeling, now the learning process comes much more from thought.He already perceives language much better and can start to put pictures together with names, ideas and different activities. As he develops cognitively, he will be able to understand more complex ideas. He will begin to understand the concept of time (“you can play games after you finish eating”) or understand the connection between different objects (for example, he will be able to put simple puzzle pieces together and connect shapes). He will start to realize the importance of numbers. As he grows older, he will understand the concept of cause and effect and become very interested in it (for example turning on and off lights and other electronic devices).
You might also notice that your child’s games are becoming more and more complex. Instead of randomly moving from game to game, they now might choose one doll over the other, feed them and put them to sleep. Its common for kids to “play pretend” with things they recognize from their day to day lives - waking up, taking a bath, eating or going to sleep.
If one could isolate the single cognitive limitation of this age it’s the feeling that everything that happens in the world is caused by what the child's actions. For this reason, it’s very hard to tell kids about death, someone being ill or even parents divorcing without them feeling they’re the ones to blame. This is important to remember as parents when dealing with difficult situations.
Two years old is not an easy age and some things can be very hard to explain to children. They are still at an age where thoughts are abstract and complicated ideas can be too complex for them. They still get confused between reality and imagination. That’s why as parents you must choose your words wisely. Using phrases which seem obvious to you, such as “if you eat any more you might explode” can cause confusion for your child since they won’t know you are exaggerating.
In addition to all this, at this age you will see more development in the following fields:
Motor skills - at this age your child is already walking on his own. He will probably take a game or two in his hands or pull something along while he walks. He will start to run and fall less than before, can stand on his toes and kick a ball. Your child can climb on and get off the couch alone and you should be ready for this and always stay alert. At the age of two, most kids can walk up and down stairs with help from a railing or the wall.
Most children can scribble with a pencil or color on paper. You will notice that they will use their dominant hand more than the other. They can now build a tower with 4 cubes or more. Towards the age of 3, your child should be able to copy a circle or a line. This is the age where they will start moving from grasping a pencil with their whole hand to a three-finger grasp.
Language - You child can now point at the right object, picture or organ when they hear the name of it. They recognize familiar names of family members or friends. They can already say a few words and even grasp a few simple concepts. They should be able to repeat the words they hear and can say 2-4-word sentences. They start understanding simple grammar rules such as singular vs plural. Maybe the greatest thing you will notice is that your child is now using language to communicate with his surroundings.
Cognitive development - your child can now find objects even if they are hidden under a few blankets. He can start dividing objects according to shapes and colors and his imagination is already very developed at this stage.
Social development - children at this age copy other people’s behavior, adults and older children alike. With time, they realize they are different than other people. They will start enjoying other children’s company. They show independence in a way you haven’t seen before, sometimes by resisting to you. It is also very common to experience separation anxiety when you say goodbye.
As mentioned before, each child develops in their own way and there’s nothing to worry about if your child is only doing some of what has been mentioned. When should you see a professional? Here are a few examples:
If your child isn’t walking at 18 months
If your child only walks on their tiptoes or can’t develop a normal gait after a few months of practice
Can’t say at least 15 words by 18 months
Can’t say 2-word sentences
Doesn’t understand the use of household objects (phone, fork) by 15 months
Doesn’t repeat words or copy simple activities
Can’t follow simple directions at the age of 2 years
Can’t push objects on wheels at 2 years
If your child is having a harder time than other kids in motor, social or language skills, consult your pediatrician.
Last updated: May 2017
Authors - Judah Freedman BA MED, Dr. Yair Sadaka MD Ph.D., pediatrician, Pediatric neurologist
The Israeli ministry of health