If you have scoured the internet asking, “What a 2-year-old should know” or “What should my 2-year old be doing,” we are so glad you have found us!
Let’s chat about the fantastic mind of a 2-year-old and learn about how you can support your toddler in the absolute best ways.
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SPOILER ALERT – we are going to talk a lot about the value of reading books with your 2-year-old. We have a great guide on books for children that you can have sent straight to your inbox!
What a 2-Year-Old Should Know
When my son was born, I remember reading everything I could to make sure I was infusing enough language into our daily routines, ensuring that he was engaged and challenged, and always on top of the “checklists.”
Meanwhile, I read soooo many books to him, and later looked back and realized that my love of books has now become his love of books. At age three, he sits for hours in my lap and reads book after book, never tiring of our storytime together. It has made me realize that perhaps, those developmental checklists aren’t as vital as I once deemed them.
While you want to make sure your toddler is on track, even checklists are going to be missing some of the most important aspects in your child’s life.
So give yourself permission to put down the checklist, remind yourself that they are little for such a short time, and focus on these important skills of love with your sweet and precious toddler.
The Most Important Things to Treasure with your 2-Year-Old
If I could give my child 3 things, it would be the confidence to always know their self-worth, the strength to chase their dreams, and the ability to know how deeply loved they are.-Anonymous
This beautiful stage of life is all about celebrating the little moments, the first full sentence, or that first solo climb up the playground ladder. The academics will certainly take precedence later in life but in these sweet and fleeting years, it’s time to focus on love, family, and safety.
So here is the most important list (in my book) of what a 2-year-old should know:
A two-year-old should know that they have a family that loves them to the ends of the earth, no matter the silly mistakes they make or angry tantrums they might have (even in the middle of the grocery store, I might add).
They should know that to be messy is to enjoy life fully.
A two-year-old should know that when they fall and land hard, that there will always be someone to snuggle them up and whisper words of love and care.
A two-year-old should be free to be creative and eccentric. “You want to give that elephant six trunks? Great idea!” There is no limit to the imagination.
A two-year-old should know that they are unique and strange and wild and free and silly and brilliant all at the same time, in every way, every day. And they should be told regularly how wonderful all of those things are.
A two-year-old should explore their interests freely. Love tools? Let’s build! Love flowers? Let’s garden. No interest in learning the alphabet song? No problem, little one… there is plenty of time for that one day. For now, let’s dress up and have that tea party with all your stuffed animal friends.
What Parents of a 2-Year-Old Should Remember
Parenting in this day and age is not for the faint of heart — the competition, the fast-paced lifestyle, and the MANY hats that parents have to wear each day make this job of parenting… well, heavy.
It’s time that you take this moment to celebrate everything that you do for your little one and what is most important to your silly and loving little two-year-old.
Remind yourself that your two-year-old wants YOU. They don’t need fancy, light-up talking toys, or academic games. The best thing you can offer your little one is undivided attention.
Remind yourself that stepping into a child’s ego is such a delight for your two-year-old. Letting go of your adulting worries, for just a little while, and playing with your child, like a child, is simply magical.
Remind yourself that reading to your two-year-old is the BEST predictor of academic success. Your little sponge soaks up all those magical stories and adventures and learns a multitude of things during each and every storytime. So crack open a book and dive in!
Remind yourself that less is more. Help your two-year-old enjoy simplicity. Nature walks, moments of mindfulness, and messy art projects designed to be fun and exciting.
Of course, don’t forget singing and dancing. Song and dance always chase away the blues and help our kiddos feel secure and loved. Check out our amazing list of the best toddler songs!
“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Lastly, remind yourself that play is THE work of childhood. Free play, dramatic play, focused play, nature play, you name it. Let your 2-year-old make choices, change their mind, and do it all over again. Because they are learning SO much from it.
One of the best ways to help your child meet the milestones for a 2-year-old is through play, art, stories, and hands-on activities. These are so beneficial to build curious little learners.
Need somewhere to start with engaging activities that will teach the skills they need at the same time? We have planned out a fantastic set of lesson plans for toddlers.
From colors to farm, space to transportation, we have made it easy and exciting to play and learn! You will be amazed at how the simple materials in these activities offer endless fun and excitement. Grab these toddler lesson plans in our store!
We talked about how those developmental checklists often get too much attention, but they can also be valuable as an overview of what your 2-year-old should know. So let’s look into some things you can do to help your 2-year-old blossom and grow in all areas!
Language Skills for a 2-Year-Old
- Help your toddler build language by encouraging them to carry on a conversation with you or answer simple questions. Encourage them to answer questions too!
- Build vocabulary by talking about parts of the body, naming animals, foods, vehicles, colors, and encourage them to ask questions if they don’t know something. Warning – this may lead to the never-ending “why” phase, but know that your child is just soaking everything in and it’s temporary, ha!
- Practice giving two-step directions to your toddler, such as, “Put your plate in the sink and get a book from your bookshelf for storytime”. Praise your toddler for a job well done or give a gentle reminder to complete that second step.
Social-Emotional Skills for a 2-Year-Old
- Help your child name their feelings. Share that we all have big feelings and that’s perfectly ok. Give them some ways to settle their big feelings and practice this routine together.
- Go on playdates and invite your two-year-old to play with others. It’s totally normal if your toddler is still engaging in parallel play (the children are playing around each other but not playing together).
- Begins taking turns with guidance and showing more independence with things like brushing teeth, dressing/undressing, or being a helper around the house.
Motor Skills for a 2-Year-Old
- Catches or begins to kick a ball a large ball. This is an easy way to get outside together and build those gross motor skills!
- Jumps up with both feet off the floor and can walk up and down stairs slowly with help.
- Can build towers with blocks or toys of about 4-7 blocks tall.
- Is able to squeeze a spray bottle.
- Can place stickers on a piece of paper.
Potty training is a very common milestone for two-year-olds. We have developed a potty training course, Peaceful Potty Training, to guide you along the way. Keep in mind that there is no rule that all children should be potty trained while two. Every child is ready for underwear at different ages! Don’t miss our tips on how to know when to start potty training.
There are many skills you can work on that are life skills too:
Encourage your child to learn to dress and undress (even if it takes longer).
Help them become familiar and comfortable with the bathroom.
And learn about potty training in a fun way with potty training books and potty training songs.
These 2-year-old milestone checklists will come in due time as your child is ready.
Young toddlers are the sweetest, albeit most indecisive little humans that absolutely steal our hearts with their tiny voices and big demands. Learning alongside them is a wild ride – exhausting but also so very special.
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