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Growth & Development: 2-3 Years

When your child is between one and three years old, she will probably be interested in everything and everyone, especially if it's new or different. She will want to be part of whatever you do. She will try to imitate you. She will also insist on trying to do many things by herself as she becomes more independent.  She will want to pick out her own clothes and will become more vocal about what she want, like and dislike.  Being as loving and supportive as possible during this time of exploration will increase your child's sense of confidence and independence.

Between the ages of 2 and 3 years old, your child will begin to push the limits to see what she can get away with.  By breaking the rules or pushing the limits your child is seeing how you react to them.  She is testing you to see if you will still love her even when she misbehave.  And although it can be extremely frustrating at times, your child is learning that you are someone she can count to keep her safe.  This is why having Effective Discipline techniques are vital to raising 2-3 year olds. 

How to Support Your Child's Learning Process

  • Read to your child
  • Stay calm when your child is upset
  • Reinforce attempts at speech by responding, imitating vocalizations, and maintaining eye contact
  • Play matching games with your toddler

Developmental Milestones

It's important to remember that development is not a race. What's most important is building on your child's strengths and providing her with support when she needs it. Children at this age need to be held and nurtured often. Healthy growth and development occurs within loving relationships: ones in which children can go out and explore, learn, and grow; and then return to a safe and caring environment.

Social and Emotional Development

  • Shows affection for others
  • Is able to play by himself or herself
  • Continues to explore world around him
  • Imitates behaviors
  • Begins being more helpful
  • May also begin to show challenging behavior

Physical Development

  • Runs forward
  • Helps dress and undress themselves
  • Jumps in place with one foot
  • Kicks a ball
  • Climbs on to things with ease
  • Bends over
  • Holds a pencil in a writing position

Cognitive Development

  • Responds to simple directions
  • Groups objects by category
  • Observes and imitates more complex actions
  • Typically egocentric, or self-centered, in their thinking

Speech and Language Development

  • Uses two or three word sentences
  • Speech is understood by familiar listeners
  • Follows two step directions
  • Understands differences in meanings (i.e. stop & go or up & down)

Sexual Development

(Adapted from kidshealth.org)

By age 2 or 3, a child starts to develop a sense of being a male or female. This awareness is called gender identity . A child of this age starts to understand the difference between boys and girls, and can identify him or herself as one or the other. Some people think gender identity is biologically determined and some say it's a product of a child's environment. Most likely, though, it's a combination of both.

At this age kids begin to associate certain behaviors, called gender roles , with being male or female. Gender roles are a product of our culture. What is masculine? What is feminine? How do boys and men behave? How do girls and women behave? As you decide what you want to teach your kids about gender roles, be aware of the messages they get both in and out of the home.


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