One day you wake up, and your baby has transformed into a toddler! Two-year-olds are notoriously difficult. The term "terrible twos" didn't arise because this is the easiest age. Read on to learn all about the two-year-old milestones your little one should experience this year.
Allison Tsomos, Vice President of Operations at Celebree School tells you what to expect from a two-year-old, including which developmental milestones your child should reach. Two-year-olds just seem to throw more tantrums than other children!
Milestones are benchmarks that signal skill achievement and readiness for more complex development. These milestones are categorized into four areas: Social/Emotional, Language/Communications, Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving), and Movement/Physical Development.
There is a timeline with ranges for typical milestones by age as well. Each child will achieve these milestones on their own schedule so there should be no concern if a child does not “check the box” yet for a particular benchmark at exactly twenty-four months for example.
Social and emotional milestones are of particular concern for parents. This is especially true if their child spent a year of key development time quarantined due to the coronavirus. Typical milestones for a two year include exhibiting a large range of emotions, showing concern when a sibling or friend is crying, and demonstrating affection without prompting.
Two-year old’s will regularly imitate adults so play kitchens, vacuums, and dress up clothes are popular toys that promote social and emotional growth. This is also the time that children understand the concept of “mine” and “his or hers.” At Celebree Schools, the two’s program fills up quickly because parents want their children to experience opportunities for social and emotional development that are engrained in high-quality preschools.
When children are two, they may not yet have developed language and communication skills. This is because children entering preschool at two often haven’t had the opportunity or need to communicate outside of their family. After as little as two weeks in preschool, parents report that their child's speech has taken off. If your child is not in preschool look for other ways for your two year to develop language and communication skills. Joining a playgroup so they can be around other kids is a great start.
Throughout their second year, children will be able to follow two-step instructions. Their vocabulary should be between 300 and 1,000 words that they can put together in two sentences for a conversation. They can generally state their name, gender, and age and name most familiar objects and several friends. They begin to use “I, me, we, and you” and begin to understand plurals like “cats or cars.” Their speech should be clear enough for a stranger to understand most of the time.
If you are concerned that your two year old may have speech delays consult your pediatrician or a speech-language pathologist.
Cognitive learning has many milestones throughout the twenty-four-to-thirty-six-month period. Children can complete a four-piece puzzle, stack up to six blocks to make a tower, turn the pages in a book, and work buttons, levers, and moving parts. They can remember the order of familiar routines such as potty, brushing teeth, pajamas, and then a bedtime story.
Two-year old’s explore objects for color, shapes, and size and can copy a circle using a crayon. Cognitive learning is also characterized through make-believe play with dolls, animals, and people as children replicate their observations and understanding of the environment they observe.
These tend to be easiest for us to observe. This is because it's easy to observe how a two-year-old is moving their body parts. A typically developing two-year-old will climb well (think of your sofa his or her personal mountain to scale), run without tripping frequently, pedal a tricycle, and navigate stairs with one foot on each step.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart! It is important to remember that each child will follow their unique developmental timeline. All four categories of development may not develop in synch.
For example, a child’s vocabulary and speech might be very advanced nearing the 1,000 word mark with complex sentence structuring. Yet that same child may not be as sure-footed and look for assistance going up the stairs at home. Influences can be both genetic and environmental.
Uneven progress towards developmental milestones for your two-year-old could be because they spent their days with his grandparents in a vocabulary-rich environment. These grandparents read to him a lot and had lots of verbal engagement throughout the day. However, that child may not have been given the opportunity to explore physical challenges independently. They may not have had many opportunities to climb at the playground. Another possibility is that the two-year-old's mom could have had the same speech first then physical development pattern.
As parents and educators, our job is to create environments for children to encourage exploring and engaging. Children need to access activities that promote achieving these milestones. If you have concerns about your child’s development, speak with your pediatrician or a child development expert who will advise you on the next steps.
Little ones are constantly changing. Now that you know what to expect from your two-year-old toddler, get ready for a three-year-old. Before you know it, you will be learning even about more toddler development.