Your relationship with your toddler is gradually changing. He still needs your help for most tasks, and craves your approval and involvement, but is becoming more independent and outward-looking and more aware of influences in his life—he remembers who people are and what they look like.

“You will see more signs of self-awareness as his unique personality and self-expression begin to emerge more strongly.”

During this 12-month period there will be rapid changes in brain development. Your toddler will be totally absorbed in developing a new range of skills and, in particular, trying things out for himself and wanting to be in control. This inevitably leads to the tantrums, the increase in “Nos,” and the sometimes challenging behavior typical of two-year-olds as they struggle with being frustrated and emotionally overwhelmed. Your toddler will be torn between desperately wanting to do things for himself—such as getting dressed, making things, being free to move around—and his need to remain very dependent on you. He is developing the ability to know what he wants—but knows he cannot yet get there on his own.

Making choices

At this age, children begin to know which toys are their favorites and which offer comfort. This shows that memory is now playing a role as they remember having fun and how to play with something.

Let’s pretend

Toys such as plastic food help to bridge the gap between play and reality and stimulate your child’s imagination, as well as enabling her to act like Mommy or Daddy.

Dealing with his frustration

As your toddler sees the world as a bigger and more exciting place, he will want to experience everything more often, which means he needs greater supervision. He will want to do more things, but may still be developing the skills required to do certain tasks. This can lead to frustration and he may, for example, suddenly throws his toys across the room. Calmly sit with him and help him achieve what he set out to do, while giving him instructions and a lot of encouragement. This enables him to achieve what he set out to do at the same time as acquiring new skills and developing more positive ways of dealing with frustration.

Imagination and reasoning skills

Over the next two or three years your child’s imagination will be developing at a rapid rate, due to the changes that are taking place in his brain. During this year he will be learning to pretend and will be developing a growing understanding that an object (such as a toy telephone) can represent something else (an actual telephone)—provided it at least looks like the real thing. By the time he is three or four he will have developed this skill much further and will be able to imagine that anything from a shoe to a banana might be a phone! But for now, this vitally important skill means he can start to enjoy and understand pictures and stories, and later learn about letters and numbers.

Without imagination and the understanding that one thing can represent or symbolize another, your toddler would not be able to understand that a sound can represent a letter of the alphabet; or that numbers represent things, for example that the number two can represent “two apples” or “two horses” or two of anything. Nor would he be able to recognize himself or others in photographs, or appreciate that a cartoon picture of a cow represents the real thing.

By the time he is 3–4 years old his fantasy world will be well developed; even now, his ability to imagine and pretend means that the boundaries between his imaginary world and reality can become blurred and confused from time to time, as the following example shows:

"“My toddler Ricky had been playing with his 10-year-old cousin, Mike. Mike kept disappearing briefly behind the sofa, using his voice to pretend there was a cookie monster there who would come and eat Ricky’s cookies. To begin with, Ricky thought this was hilarious, and kept popping behind the sofa to check things out; but when Mike announced in his monster voice, ‘I’m coming to find the cookies now…’ Ricky’s imagination suddenly took over, and it all became too much for him. He ran screaming to find me.”"

Watching your toddler play can give you a fascinating insight into what is going on in his mind. At this age, he may often chatter to himself and comment on what is going on. You will be able to see whether he is acting something out that is funny, loving, or scary, and whether he is mirroring behavior that he has seen, as the following example shows:

"“Poppy had a tantrum one morning because I was giving priority to her baby sister, Rachel. Poppy had hit Rachel and I told her very firmly that hitting was bad, and to treat Rachel gently. Later that day I was moved to see her playing with her doll and saying, ‘No hit little teddy. Hitting bad! Hug better.’ She then helped her doll to hug her teddy better.”" If your toddler can use his imagination, it also means that he is developing his reasoning skills, and will link cause and effect more consistently and begin to realize that what he does has an influence on what happens next.

Learning social and emotional skills

Now that your two-year-old is beginning to understand the impact that he has on the world around him, he is also starting to become aware that other people may not see the world in quite the same way.

It is now that your toddler needs your help to begin to become in tune with his emotions, to realize that other people have feelings too, and gradually to develop his social skills. All the effort you are putting in to help him to manage and name his “big” feelings is helping him to learn and understand about his emotions. The more he is able to identify and understand the way he is feeling, the better he will be able to empathize with other people.

During this period, most children are able to openly express a wide range of emotions and are gradually learning to cope with their anxiety if separated from a parent for a while. This is because your child now has an understanding that although you have gone, you will also come back. This level of trust and expectation explains why toddlers hate any change in their routine. They take comfort in the regularity and predictability of actions and behaviors. If something does not go as normally expected, the impact can be very distressing.

Helping your child to learn social and emotional skills:
  • When you need to discipline your toddler, make sure you use respectful language and do not insult or belittle him in any way. This will encourage him to stay in tune with his feelings.

  • Comfort him and help him understand. Children who are able to trust that they will receive comfort when they are upset, and who are encouraged to express and understand their feelings, are able to develop compassion and show empathy toward others from an early age, and grow up to be in tune with their feelings.

  • Do not dismiss his feelings. Children who experience hurt, who are insulted, or whose sensitive feelings are regularly disregarded, will learn to cope by gradually shutting themselves off from their emotions. This behavior can lead to a child developing difficulties in forming deep friendships or relationships in later life.

Learning to wait

Just as you are starting to wonder whether your toddler is ever going to learn the art of waiting, a major shift in his behavior happens. Along with the development of his reasoning skills comes an understanding that “I can’t have it now, but I can have it later.” Your patience is now going to pay off, because your toddler is finally starting to learn self-control. His ability to pretend means that he has the ability to imagine that things can happen later. His improved sense of time helps him practice using more self-control because he knows he will get what he wants eventually.

You can probably remember that nighttime seemed to go on forever when you were young. Long-distance time is a problem for children of this age—an hour is still an interminable length of time—and “later” may have a different meaning to him than it does to you. So keep this in mind and help him learn.

Guidelines for helping your toddler to wait:

Needless to say that in order for a child to learn to trust in the value of “later,” the adults who are asking him to wait need to honor their promises and do as they say, when they said they would. A toddler who discovers that “later” is code for “never” or “I don’t feel like it” will feel let down and will be less likely to behave nicely in the future.

  • Link the time frame to an event, so that he can understand when the right time has arrived. “Not now. Later, when your sister is in her crib.”

  • Use “if, then; when, then” , “If you put your toys in the toy box first, then you can play with your trains.”

  • If it is a challenging wait, add an incentive, and show your appreciation: “I want you to be quiet now, Tony. Can you be quiet until we leave the store? Good boy. If you can, then you can play soccer with your brother when we get home. Thank you.”

  • Use an incentive, such as giving him colored balls, stickers, or building blocks to collect. Tell him that every five minutes that he can wait and behave nicely, he will be rewarded with another one.

Waiting his turn

Patience and cooperation are two skills your toddler is gradually learning and, when he does, he will begin to wait to take turns and play more harmoniously with others.


Your toddler’s ability to pretend means you can also use role-play to get him used to understanding how to behave, or to get used to situations that he could find challenging, such as starting preschool, going to the doctor or dentist, or coping with someone he finds frightening, such as an eccentric neighbor. Playing “let’s pretend” helps him to put things in context.

It’s important not to mock or trivialize your child’s fears, but trust your judgement to decide when you might introduce a sense of fun to help normalize the situation.

For example, if he is very attached to Grandpa and becomes upset when he has to go home, you can play “let’s pretend” to help him understand that Grandpa will come back the next day, and gradually help him to change his mood.

Daddy “Luke, would you like to pretend to be Grandpa, and shall I pretend to be you?” In sad voice, (pretending to be his son Luke): “Don’t go, Gramps. I hate it when you go. I feel very sad and want to cry.”

Luke (pretending to be Grandpa) “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. I come back.”

Daddy, in worried voice “When will you come back, Grandpa? Will you come back tonight and read me a story?”

Luke, firmly “No. Back ’morrow.”

Daddy, sadly “But I feel sad and I don’t want you to go.”

Luke, gently “Don’t be sad.” Strokes Daddy’s head. “Back ’morrow.”

Daddy, gently “OK, Gramps. I love you.” Gives Luke a hug. “I will try not to be sad but I miss you when you leave, and sometimes tomorrow seems a very long time away.” Leaves a short pause… and then changes mood, with silly, happy voice: “Grandpa?” Gets Luke’s attention and eye contact. “Grandpa, pleeeeease will you stay?”

Luke, giggly “No, I go now.”

Daddy in more silly voice and giggling “Grandpa, pleeeeeeeeeease will you stay?” Then in a calmer voice, “Will I see you tomorrow then Grandpa?”

Luke, giggly “Yes.” They hug.

Top search
- 6 Ways To Have a Natural Miscarriage
- Foods That Cause Miscarriage
- Losing Weight In A Week With Honey
- Can You Eat Crab Meat During Pregnancy?
- Grape Is Pregnant Women’s Friend
- 4 Kinds Of Fruit That Can Increase Risk Of Miscarriage
- Your Toddler Month by Month : 2–3 Years - Your Toddler’s Brain
- 9-12 Months: Exploring New Tastes - Babies on Special Diets
- 9-12 Months: Exploring New Tastes - Your Baby Gourmet
- Babies a New Life : He’s on the Move! Keep him safe; let him explore (part 2) - Safety in the home Things to be aware of
- Babies a New Life : He’s on the Move! Keep him safe; let him explore (part 1)
- Your Toddler Month by Month : 2–3 Years - Learning through Play (part 2)
- Your Toddler Month by Month : 2–3 Years - Learning through Play (part 1)
- Planning Other Fun Stuff : Hobbies, Socializing & Free Time
- Planning Other Fun Stuff : Family Vacations
- 9-12 Months: Exploring New Tastes - Fun with Finger Foods (part 2)
Top keywords
Miscarriage Pregnant Pregnancy Pregnancy day by day Pregnancy week by week Losing Weight Stress Placenta Makeup Collection
Top 5
- Cinnamon: A natural treatment for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
- 5 Tips for Safe Exercise During Pregnancy
- Four Natural Ways Alternative Medicine Can Help You Get Pregnant (part 2)
- Four Natural Ways Alternative Medicine Can Help You Get Pregnant (part 1)
- Is Your Mental Health Causing You to Gain Weight (part 2) - Bipolar Disorder Associated with Weight Gain