Development through Play: 2 to 3 years old

2 years Old! Your child’s third year. Where does the time go?

Keira & Brinn Aug 2009 017

It’s time to clear the shelves and put fragile or electronic items out of the way. Your child loves to explore the environment; but will probably be climbing on furniture, (and out of the crib), walking up and down stairs, standing on tiptoes to further his reach, and running around most obstacles!   Now is the time to establish clear rules and boundaries.

Gross Motor Development – Your toddler loves to be active!

  • Go outside to run, jump, and play!
  • Kick balls and play modified games like hockey, football and soccer.
  • Encourage ball throwing and catching and promote co-ordination skills.
  • Play with large-wheeled toys that you can push, pull or ridDSC_1094e on.
  • Go to the park and begin to explore the playground equipment. Remember that some children will be very daring and need constant supervision while others need adult support and encouragement to venture onto the playground.
  • While you are outside check out worms, bugs, leaves, grass, and nature around him. Explore, investigate and play! He is likely very curious about his environment. Talk about what you see and discover!

 Fine Motor Development

  • Notice how your child has perfected the fine pincer grasp and will find the tiniest bits to share with you.
  • He will eat with a spoon and may use a fork.
  • He will likely extend his concentration to build towers of 4 or more blocks, and still revels in the surprise of the tower toppling over!
  • He will likely hold a pencil or crayon in a preferred hand using an improved tripod grip.
  • He will enjoy finger play activities like: “Eency Weensy Spider.”
  • He proudly draws circles, lines and dots on a page, and can sometime make the ‘v’ shape!
  • Chances are he will enjoy playing with Duplo and  other age appropriate building toys.
  • During this third year, if your child has not determined a hand preference, here are some observations you can make.
    • Hold a small ball in front of your child… in the middle, not off to one side or the other.  Ask him to take it and throw it to you using one hand. Which hand did he use?
    • Place the ball in front of your child. Ask him to kick it to you. Which foot did he use?
    • Play with a toilet paper tube. Show your child how you can look out through the middle of the tube. Place the tube in front of your child. Ask him to pick it up and look out of it. Which hand did he use? Which eye did he use?
    • If a right or left hand preference is clear, you may gently encourage him to use that hand while drawing or coloring. If the child has not established a preference… keep observing daily tasks (e.g. holding a spoon, drinking from a cup, picking up toys, moving handles, building with blocks, playing with balls, eating a snack) and then encourage using the hand that he uses most frequently.

* Remember, that 2 year olds develop at a different rates and your child may be faster or slower to learn certain skills than others may.

Observe your child’s emotional and social growth.

  • Keira & Brinn Aug 2009 009He will play more with other children; but generally the play is still ‘among friends’. He may include others in games like “chase”.
  • He may not wish to share his toys.
  • He will likely try to help someone, especially a younger sibling, when they are sad, frustrated or crying.
  • He is beginning to identify and share his feelings… (e.g. anger, happiness, fear). Controlling emotions is still difficult. Comfort objects like blankets or teddy bears help two-year-olds cope with new situations or strong emotions.
  • Encourage him to try new things in a secure environment, without the fear of failure.

 Language, Listening and Visual Development

 The ability to reason, understand and solve problems is called intellectual or cognitive development.

  • He will begin to understand the consequence of his actions. (cognitive skill)
  • He will look beyond a cover to find objects that are hidden. (developing object permanence – cognitive skill)
  • He will develop listening (and auditory memory) skills by you asking him to follow simple two-step directions. ( i.e. “Please get coat and put it on the hook.”)
  • He can respond to simple questions.
  • He enjoy copying language tasks that an adult, or another child, has modeled for him.
    • He likes to name things and may tell what they do. (e.g. “Truck. The truck drives.”)
    • He can repeat a few nursery rhymes. (auditory memory)
    • His vocabulary will increase with book language, music, and hearing you talk about his world.
    • He can name body parts and point to them.
  • He enjoys listening to music and singing songs. (auditory skill development)
  • He will enjoy simple puzzles and may try to thread large beads. (visual skill/ fine motor)
  • He will have favorite books that he likes read over and over again!
  • He will point to find objects or animals in a book.
  • He may continually ask questions, “Who?” “What?” “Where?” … as he attempts to make sense of his world. (communication skills)
  • He may enjoy playing make-believe games. (i.e. Making meals at a play kitchen.)
  • He will link two or three words to communicate his needs. (speech development)
  • He will enjoy books that identify and sequence daily events. (e.g. bedtime, getting dressed, snack time)
  • Books will help him to develop his vocabulary and understanding of positional words. (e.g. up, down, under, over, beside, behind, in front)


Check out this YouTube video:

Two Year Old Child Development Stages & Milestones | Help Me Grow MN

Grandma Laurie.

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