Your 2-year-old is growing and developing at break-neck speed -- and some days you might feel like you're barely keeping up. One day you have to show her how to play with blocks, and the next day she's building houses and forts! Her perceptual development at this age involves changes in thought -- and you usually learn this the first time she says the word, "No." But even those "No's" have a place as she learns to understand her world through constant sensory input. Your 2-year-old's five senses are working overtime as she develops her sense of self and the world around her.
1. Understanding Commands
Between the ages of 1 and 2, a child begins to understand simple requests. By the time she's fully 2, she should respond to your requests like, “Bring me the ball,” “Give me the doll,” and “Come here.” Of course, when you want her to do something new, you'll have to show her what it is, like if you ask, "Bring me the cup," you'll need to show her a cup, but at this point, she's learning so fast that the next time she might bring you a cup when she's thirsty. At this age you can also see your child thinking about whether she wants to do what you ask -- so expect to start hearing the word "No" when she prefers doing something else.
2. Imitating Adults
At age 2, your child spends more and more time imitating the actions of adults. This encourages her to explore new activities and learn what appropriate behavior at certain times looks like. Letting her playing with pots and pans while you're cooking, and letting her pretend to open and close doors with keys, helps her develop fine motor skills while she's acting like mommy or daddy. Two-year-olds love to imitate reading by turning the pages of books and trying to tell you a favorite story. This is an important early reading skill, so be sure to have plenty of board books on hand so your child can imitate how you read from left to right and top to bottom.
3. Completing Simple Tasks
Between the ages of 2 and 3, your child should learn to finish simple tasks. His development at this stage almost allows you to see his mind working when he wants to try something new or change what he's doing. You can help him at this age by showing him how to stack blocks, group items by category, or size and place objects in the proper place. Children can get frustrated at this age, so don't be surprised if your little one has a meltdown when something is too hard or he's tired. Be ready to cuddle and soothe when the tears come -- and make sure he's still getting regular naps.
4. Distinguishing Characteristics
Your 2-year-old’s perception of herself and others is expanding quickly. She can distinguish between “you” and “me,” Daddy and Mommy and other relatives or caregivers like Grandma and Grandpa. She might repeat simple names like Mama, Daddy and Papa -- and may even use one-syllable versions of her siblings’ names. Encourage your toddler with games like, “Where’s the Baby?” where you put a cloth over her head and she pulls it away to show her face. Another fun game that will help her understand even more about herself is asking, “Where is your nose?,” “Where are your eyes?,” "Where is your hair?," etc. while she points to each one.
- Healthy Children: Developmental Milestones: 2 Year Olds
- The Best Start: The Whole Child (0-6)
- Education.com: Characteristics of Motor Development
- PBS: The Whole Child-Thinking Skills
- Center Collaborative Early Intervention Training e-Resource: Perceptualy Development
- Kidshealth: The Senses and Your 1-to-2-Year-Old
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images