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Children's Development at the Toddler Stage

by Stacey Chaloux, studioD

It may seem like your toddler is changing every day, and it's true -- there are many important developments a child makes between the ages of 2 and 3. While it is fascinating to see the growth in your child happening so quickly, it can also be difficult to know what to expect during these years. Knowing the milestones that toddlers should reach and when can help you support the development of your child.

Motor Development

Your toddler may seem like she is on the go at all times, and while it can be hard to keep up, know that she is gaining strength and coordination with all of that movement. Her walking and running will become smoother and she will use more heel-to-toe motions of an adult. During this year, she will also learn to kick a ball, walk up and down stairs and stand on one foot briefly. In addition to these gross motor skills, fine motor skills are beginning to develop during the toddler years as well. Give her blocks to stack and build with, and provide large crayons and paper to begin scribbling to help her continue to develop the coordination in her hands and fingers.

Language Development

Your child will begin to use many more words during the toddler years. Two-year-olds usually use short two-word sentences such as "Eat cracker," but by the time he is 3, you will be hearing sentences that are four to six words long, such as "Where's my car, Mommy?" Toddlers begin to use more pronouns like me, you, he and we, although not always correctly. In addition, toddlers understand about 10 times as many words as they can speak, according to Education.com. You can continue to help him develop these language skills by reading to him often and talking to him about what you are doing throughout the day. He will hear the rules and patterns of language and learn new vocabulary just by listening to you.

Cognitive Development

One of the major developments that happens during the second year is the ability to make-believe and engage in pretend play. This is because toddlers are able to form mental images and understand that objects can represent other things. She will be able to understand that her doll represents a baby she can pretend to feed and put in bed, or that the plastic play food represents a meal she has cooked for you. Toddlers at this age are also better able to recognize similarities and differences between objects, so sorting begins to happen naturally. Help her see how she can sort different colored blocks into piles by their color, and then mix them up again and sort them by their shape.

Social-Emotional Development

Two-year-olds become more interested in being around and playing with other children their age. While your toddler may not play cooperatively with other children, he will engage in parallel play and can learn a lot from observing others. Young children enjoy imitating other's actions, so you can play a simple version of "Simon Says." You can also begin to model social skills such as sharing and taking turns as you play, saying things like, "You push the car, and now Mommy will push the car." At age two, children are becoming more interested in and more able to identify feelings, so help him notice when others are happy, sad, angry or excited as you read stories or play with friends.

About the Author

Stacey Chaloux is an educator who has taught in both regular and special education early childhood classrooms, as well as served as a parent educator, teaching parents how to be their child's best first teacher. She has a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Missouri and a Master of Education from Graceland University.

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