It can feel like there are a lot of milestones a child goes through that we have to know about. Not to mention so many parents out there compare their child's highs and lows to other children they know. However, we as parents need to remember that every child is unique in their own way and learns at different speeds.
At 2 years old, our children are learning to be independent. Now that they can walk, they're learning how to run without falling as much. They can now explore around the house and play "make believe" with their invisible friend. It's a magical time in a child's life. It's a time to grow and try for themselves the things they've been looking at for the past two years (like holding a spoon or at least trying to feed themselves).
While the "terrible twos" may seem terrible, it's actually a monumental moment in a child's developmental stage. They're learning how to express themselves, along with what they can (and can't) get away with. That being said, there are many exciting things a 2-year-old can now do. From sharing with friends to imitating their parents to learning how to use the "big kid" potty, being 2 years old is a pretty exciting time. So here are 18 things moms should make sure their 2-year-olds are doing (and three things they can relax about).
21 Parallel Playing
Parallel playing simply means your child playing side-by-side with another child. They're able to interact socially with other kids and enjoy games, sharing, and learning opportunities in a group setting.
This doesn't necessarily mean your child has to be good at these things; after all, learning to share can be quite tough for many kids.
But the ability to follow directions within a group setting should be present. (Example: the teacher telling the kids to clap their hands to the music or building blocks with the child next to them.)
You know what they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! When your child is around 2 years old, they should be able to imitate their parents. They'll soon try to be like good ole mom and dad and do the things they're doing. This can come in handy when you want them to clean up their space or help out around the house! However, it comes at a price because they'll also try using the same words you're using — so be mindful of curse words!
19 Differentiate Shapes
Judith Hudson is a development psychologist who believes our children's "ability to recognize different colors heats up at around 18 months, the same time he begins to notice similarities and differences in shape, size, and texture."
And while they may know some basic colors like red or blue, they may not know a lot of colors until they're closer to the three-year age mark.
But that doesn't mean you can't start teaching it to them early! Ask them what color shirt they're wearing or describe what colors are on their food plate.
Similar to differentiating textures like above, our 2-year-old should also be confident in sorting things by categories. If they're old enough to start imitating their parents, they can learn by following along: trash goes in the bin, cold food goes in the fridge, those things are farm animals, balls go in this crate, etc... Parents can further this learning by letting them help you do chores, and sorting what goes where and why.
17 Potty Trained
Hear me out, different countries have varying standards on how early their child should be potty trained. With that being said, it may come quicker for some kids than others! The most a parent can do is stay with it and not give up if their child is having a hard time.
WebMD admits that your child will show signs that they're ready to learn about the "big kid" potty (asking questions about the toilet seat, underwear, where the water goes...).
"Whether or not your child is ready is based on where he is physically and emotionally. Many kids show interest around 2 years old, while others couldn't care less until they're 2 1/2 or 3. Though there are always exceptions, girls usually show interest earlier than boys and are quicker to get the hang of it."
16 Motor Skills Are Improving
You take for granted how easy it is to jump up and down or how to climb things until you see your 2-year-old try. Parents notes at 2 years old, they should be able to "jump up, with both her feet leaving the ground," "climb a staircase holding onto the railing, using one foot at a time," and they may even start favoring a hand they like using more than the other. It's always sweet watching our little ones try something new and get better at it the more they try.
15 Transitioning From Crib To Bed
Parents note that parents shouldn't make the transition from crib to "big kid" bed until their child is around two-and-a half years old. I know it might seem thrilling to make that change, but it's all a matter of safety. Once your toddler is sleeping through the night and seems mature enough (as mature as a 2-year-old can get), parents can remove the crib ASAP (putting a guard rail at the edge of the bed) or they can do it gradually by placing crib's railing down when they sleep (with some pillows on the floor – just in case).
14 Feed Themselves
A child will start to learn to do things for themselves by 18 months. They're just starting to get the hang of what utensils are used for, what a brush is, and what cups are for.
The more they watch you feed them and yourself, the easier it is when they try it for themselves.
By the two-year age mark, kids can try feeding themselves without making the mess they did a year before. They might not be the best at using forks or spoons yet, but they can grab small pieces of food and feed themselves in their high-chair.
13 Speaking More
"By 24 months, your child should have a vocabulary of 50 words, such as 'more,' 'juice' and 'Grandma,'" Lauren Krause, Chief of Speech-Language Pathology at La Rabida Children's Hospital in Chicago told Parents.
Now with a larger vocabulary, they should be able to create small, two-word sentences, like "my juice" or "no milk."
Pronunciation won't always be correct, but the point is that they're trying. This can also be a trying time for parents, learning if their child has any developmental delays if they're not at this point speech wise.
12 Following Routine
Routines are huge in a child's life. They can help a child sort their day and find their own groove. Getting in a routine can also help parents getting them to eat or sleep. Child Development Specialist, Nora Carrillo, told Parents,
"Having an established daily routine is really important to a child this age. We've found that it's helpful in preventing tantrums and outbursts because a child wants to know what to expect."
Being able to follow a routine and understand what comes next can be helpful in their learning development.
11 Undress And Dress Themselves
Just how snowflakes are all unique from the next, so are children. By 13-24 months, kids may be able to dress and undress themselves. It may not be in the outfit you had hoped, but at least they can do something for themselves! They may have a hard time with a t-shirt or something with buttons, but they're understanding the difference between shorts, shirts, pants, and how they're put on. The lesson in dressing and undressing then becomes showing them what to do with dirty versus clean clothes.
10 Washing Their Own Hands
With the help of a stepping stool, kids can try to wash their own hands around 2 years old. They may need some help getting to the sink or reaching for the soap, but they understand the action of washing their hands. This, of course, has to be taught properly by mom or dad. Lather their hands with soap and rub hands together, sing the song "Happy Birthday" (about 20 seconds), and then rinse with water. Remind them to dry their hands thoroughly on a towel and then they continue with their day as a rambunctious 2-year-old.
9 Becoming More Independent
The older a child gets, the more they're searching for independence. By 2 years old, your child should want to do things for themselves sometimes. They'll also show defiance by saying "no" from time to time.
A sign of independence is how they play, too. If they have an imaginary friend, watching them explore the house or the yard while keeping a healthy imagination is not only normal, but encouraged.
The more they learn how to do things for themselves, the more they'll want to do it (which is super helpful for mom and dad).
8 The Terrible Twos Aren't Necessarily Bad
I've heard a few parents wonder how they can "skip" the terrible twos. And while this age range does get a lot of flack, the tantrums and outbursts these kids are having are completely normal. It's actually a sign that they're on the right track to a healthy and happy future. Your 2-year-old throwing a tantrum in the grocery store is their form of expression, it's also a chance to learn how to act in public and what they need to do to get what they want.
7 Falling Less
At 2 years old, your child may be running around more and falling less. This is obviously great news for parents who don't have to worry quite as much as when they first started walking. But now that they have walking down, they're learning how to run and navigate their bodies without falling or running into anything.
It's around this age parents may start introducing small sports balls or equipment they may be interested in.
Now that they can stand, walk, and run, try testing their hand-eye coordination by tossing a ball at their hands or feet.
6 Are They Ready For A Tricycle?
Kids are introduced to so many "first" things, and it's so fun to watch as a parent. They've been watching big kids and adults ride bikes, go for jogs, play sports and now at the age of two, they're starting to recognize what they need to do to follow suit. The same can be said for their first tricycle. Many experts believe a child should be closer to 3 years old before hopping on a tricycle, but with the right safety equipment and guidance from a parent or guardian, they can learn to at least navigate a tricycle. Or at least the kind that don't have pedals, allowing kids to learn balance first.
5 Following Simple Instructions
Now that your 2-year-old can say small, two-word sentences, they'll also be able to understand more. As a parent, you can ask them to grab something on the table or to drink their juice and they'll understand what you're talking about.
They may not be able to vocalize much, but they understand.
What's important, however, is to make sure they want to talk. They might not always make sense while following directions, but it's the fact that they're trying that counts.
4 Understanding Numbers
PBS explains "On average, an older two-year-old understands the words 'one' and 'two,'" meaning they can identify pairs from non-paired items. They may also start to practice counting to four, but the numbers may not always be in order (saying one, three, two, four, for example). The site continues saying, "In the second half of this year, very few children will be able to determine the number of items in a collection of up to five items by using one-to-one counting."
And here are the things 2-year-olds do that don't matter as much...
3 Doesn't Matter: Choosy With Foods
They're at an age where they're becoming more independent. They now are forming opinions and decisions on what they want to do, eat, and wear. So if your 2-year-old is being pickier than normal with foods, don't be too alarmed.
Introduce new foods (or healthier foods, if that's the problem) slowly and in smaller portions.
Let them get used to eating half a cup of broccoli first, before adding a full cup (for example). Dinner time is not a time for arguments or fear — introduce new things at a slower pace.
Sharing will come in time! This can be easier for some kids and harder for the next. An only child might not really understand why they need to share their toys or snacks with a classmate. While a middle child in a big family might be sick of sharing their fun things in class, needing a few moments to themselves.
The older they get, the more they'll understand the concept of sharing and the repercussions when you don't share.
Don't be too worried if your child's daycare teacher is concerned about their sharing techniques. Use this as a learning opportunity at home.
1 Coloring Inside The Lines
Everyone says it's a big day when their child learns the point of a coloring book and masters coloring in the lines. However, at 2 years old, kids are going to love passing the time by coloring or doodling, but staying inside the lines will not be on their mind. Parents and teachers will emphasize staying in the lines to work on their fine motor skills. Learning to follow the curves and shapes is great hand-eye coordination and can help with other things in life as they get older.