Some call them the terrible twos but that’s not always the case. Plus, society’s little sponges are starting to gain some independence and are beginning to let us know exactly what they want!
A toddler’s behaviour is fascinating and often entertaining, so between their second and third birthdays, you are likely to pick up on a lot of changes in terms of their development.
Just like adults, some toddlers may be naturally better at some things than others, so they may reach some milestones quickly and then it may take them a little while longer to master others. Try not to worry, and don’t be afraid to reach out to an expert if needed.
Key developmental areas between 2-3 years
The key areas of development between 2-3 years are as follows:
Gross motor skills
These skills use large muscles such as your child’s legs, arms, trunk and neck. A toddler will use a lot of energy when mastering these skills.
Examples of activities which would use gross motor skills are:
- Jumping up and down with both feet
- Climbing up and sliding down a toddler slide at the park
- Pedalling a tricycle
- Walking up and down stairs whilst an adult holds one hand
- Walking backwards
- Standing briefly on one foot whilst an adult holds one hand
Fine motor skills
Fine motor skills use small muscles such as those found in our fingers and toes. These skills are often used in fiddly activities such as arts and crafts.
Examples of activities which would use fine motor skills are:
- Stacking 6 1-inch blocks on top of eachother
- Holding a crayon with thumb and fingers
- Stringing large beads on a stiff string
- Snipping and cutting with scissors, under parental supervision
- Copying vertical and horizontal lines, and circles with their finger
These are the skills which will help a toddler become more independent and often will leave you wondering how they grew up so quick.
Examples of activities which would use self-help skills are:
- Attempting to use a fork and spoon
- Tidying their toys away
- Washing and drying hands, under parental supervision
- Brushing teeth with help
- Getting good at using the toilet consistently
- Attempting to dress and undress self
These are the mental skills associated with learning and problem-solving. These skills in particular often leave parents wondering how their little one got so clever.
Examples of activities which would use cognitive skills are:
- Imaginative play with dolls, toy kitchens and animals.
- Doing puzzles with 3 or 4 pieces
- Working toys with moving parts
- Turning book pages one at a time
- Recognising colors
- Understanding the concept of “I”
- Playing with peers
- Understanding main body parts and their functions
Communication and language skills
These skills also include speech skills. They will allow a toddler to communicate with their caregiver and peers in line with their needs and wants.
Examples of activities which would use communication and language skills are:- Saying short phrases of 3-4 words
- Using pronouns including “I, me and you”
- Asking questions including many "What?" and "Where?" questions
A lot of changes are expected to happen in the lead up to your child’s third birthday and naturally as they head towards pre-kindergarten age. Try to take these changes in your stride and try not to compare your toddler’s development with other toddlers in their peer group. Your child is unique and this is worth celebrating. If you do have any lasting developmental concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to an expert.