- Importance of this age
- Developmental Milestones Circle: Two years to Three years
- Points for concern
- Intervention through play
Between two and three, children have achieved good control over their bodies. They are filled with energy and love to move constantly; running and jumping where others would walk. If allowed to play freely, they will be able to coordinate their body well enough to ride a tricycle with confidence, and judge space, speed and distance.
Wrist rotation combined with finer finger grasp means that children can now do more precise movements with their hands. When imitating writing, the developing grasping skills allow the two year old child to simply make marks on the paper, while by three years, they can often make circles in imitation of the adult. With the ability to pick up and manipulate smaller objects, children love to experiment with size and shapes, fitting blocks and toys into small and big holes or simple shape puzzles.
As their ability to explore the world increases, they are eager to ask and share about all that they see and speech simply erupts at this age. They talk incessantly about their own experiences and observations and can use a range of vocabulary including adjectives, nouns, verbs, personal pronouns, spatial and size words showing their growing capacity for symbolic expression. By the middle of this age period, they move from two-word to much longer sentences, although not grammatically complete or correct.
Children are fascinated with adult activity and will intently observe and imitate making tea, sweeping the floor or feeding someone in simple games of make-believe. A lot of mental planning, abstract thinking and perception of roles develop during such pretend play. Younger children play by themselves in the vicinity of their peers. In the presence of adults they may participate in group activity like story sessions or singing rhymes. Toward the end of this period, two to three children may play together in a group, sharing the same toys rather than actually playing together. Children love to look at picture books and photographs. They can find details in pictures, recognize actions and show pictures that relate to an experience or event in their lives.
This phase in a toddler’s life is often called the “terrible two’s” as the children assert their independence and enjoy their own control over their life and activities. If taught, they will quickly learn many activities of self-care such as drinking from a cup, eating by themselves, assisting with dressing and undressing and bathing and even helping around the house, fetching and putting away things. They insist on doing things their way, on their terms, and are possessive about their things and the people in their lives. It is a trying period for the caregiver, but their patience and understanding of the child’s need to learn boundaries and experience success will be rewarded by a child who has a good self-concept and confidence.