The terrible twos is an all familiar phrase. They’re busy bees, into everything they can get their hands on. They have such a burning desire to experience the world first hand, but their twos don’t have to be so terrible!
In this article, you’ll learn about the different developmental stages your two-year-old will go through to help them the best you can while still enjoying watching their second year of life.
Similarly, it’s essential to understand their development so you can make sure they’re on track for success.
You’ll learn about their gross and fine motor skills and their social and language development. With this newfound knowledge, you’ll be able to assist better and understand your toddler.
Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills are the function of the larger muscle groups. For example, crawling, walking, and running.
During the first 24-30 months, your child should be able to:
- Jump off the floor using both feet
- Alternate feet while walking up the stairs
- Use their tiptoes
- Jump over items few inches tall
- Race in short increments
- Hop out and inside of a hula hoop
- Run well
You can help your child master these skills by holding their hand while they jump over items, walk up the stairs, or practice hopping. Additionally, you can help them learn to climb up the couch by assisting them in building forts, which strengthens their gross motor skills. Once your child is 30 months old, you can aid them in pedaling a tricycle.
Your two-year-old will be eager to attempt all activities on his or her own, but assure them you’re still there rooting them on if they need your help!
Now let’s look at what their gross motor skills should look like for the second half of their second year.
From 31-36 months, your child should be able to:
- Play catch with a large ball
- Kick a ball
- Balance on one leg for up to 3 seconds
- Jump forward about 20 inches with both feet together
To help your child successfully catch, consider using a bigger ball, like a beach ball. Again, as they balance on one foot or attempt to jump forward, hold their hand if they need it.
The lists above pertain to what most children of that age are doing.
You may want to seek advice from a healthcare professional by the time your child turns five and is still walking on their tiptoes, regressing with their skills, or seems exceedingly clumsy.
Let’s have a look at their fine motor skills.
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills use smaller muscle groups and help for tasks such as grasping a fork or drawing. Early signs of fine motor skills are seen when newborns tightly grasp your fingers. Fine motor skills are like the details to the bigger picture and essentially build upon their gross motor skills.
Below is a list of some tasks your toddler should be able to do.
From 24-30 months old, your child should be able to:
- Copy a plus sign and circle
- Build towers with around 8-10 cubes
- Cut the edges of paper
Once your child reaches 31-36 months, they should be able to:
- Build more difficult structures with cubes like bridges or towers
- Attempt to cut across a piece of paper
- Independently their wash hands
- Turn a doorknob
- Unzip or zip a big zipper
To help your child achieve the tasks above, encourage them to practice picking up items with child-safe pliers, constructing structures using blocks, or doing other art projects that involve cutting, drawing, or tracing.
Inspire your child by putting together bigger puzzles together. This helps them build their fine motor skills while also using problem-solving strategies and helping them to start recognizing patterns.
Other toys you may consider are large beads to string together, big building blocks like Legos, simple crafts, and or coloring utensils.
Lastly, inviting your child in the kitchen to help make a meal gives them an experience in which they can utilize their fine motor skills, while also creating an excellent bonding activity.
To get inspired check out this adorable two-year-olds cooking show here:
In addition to their physical milestones, your two-year-olds social development is just as critical.
As stated by Amplatz Children’s Hospital at the University of Minnesota, playing with toys and mirroring two-word phrases that go with the toy is an activity that should be prevalent.
Likewise, they should be able to answer yes or no questions, answer questions that start with who, what, where, and ask for help.
Around this time, you may begin to hear the word “no” quite often. The reason being, your two-year-old is starting to understand they’re similar yet different from others. They acknowledge they have their own voice, and they push the envelope to observe your reaction.
They then use your reaction in future actions of cause and effect. For example, a scenario might go something like this,
Two-year-old: Knocks over a glass of water and it spills all over the kitchen floor
Mom: Scoulds the two year old for making a mess
What the two-year-old learns is if I make a mess of something an adult might yell at me, I better not make a mess again. This situation could be positive or negative.
To expand, if the child did it on accident, they might think it’s not okay to make accidents. On the other hand, if they did it maliciously, they now know it’s bad to make a mess on purpose.
Any habit you have that is insignificant to you can impact your child since they’re like a sponge continually learning from the adults and others around them. Whatever you do, they might try to mimic.
On a different note, teaching your two-year-old socially acceptable table manners and appropriate peer interactions at their age will set them up for success once they start school.
As noted earlier, two-year-olds are like sponges constantly soaking up how you’re behaving and what you’re saying. Children learn through repetition, like all humans, so cultivating a patient and nourishing environment for their language development is essential.
With that said, they’ll learn from repetitive songs like Old McDonald or The Wheels on the Bus, so encouraging them to sing will expand their vocabulary.
By this point, they’ll begin to name different numbers, colors, and body parts.
They’ll have anywhere from 50-100 words in their word bank, picking up on words and phrases more quickly.
Furthermore, they should be able to follow two-step commands like eat more or please listen.
To help them further expand their vocabulary, saying the name for an object while pointing will allow them to remember it better. Similarly, if they’re holding an object and experiencing it with all their senses, they’re more apt to remember the word for it.
Giving them as many diverse sensory experiences as possible will help build their neurons while simultaneously increasing their language.
Now you have all the knowledge you need to set your toddler up for success. Whether you’re a parent for the first time or a seasoned one, this is an exciting and vital time for you and your baby!