His walking is a smooth heel-to-toe motion, while his running is still a bit awkward and stiff. He still runs into things and knocks things over because he can’t turn corners well or stop quickly. He can stand on tiptoes to see and touch things that are a little above eye level. And he climbs on anything available to reach things up higher. Although he can get up quite high, he still has difficulty getting back down. He is now able to jump up getting both feet off the ground, although he only clears the floor by about an inch.
Because your child has mastered so many physical skills, he spends much more of his time and effort in learning how things work. He is curious about everything. He wants to know what it is, what it does, and how it works. He has to try it all out for himself. He can be incredibly determined to do things by himself. He is showing more independence every day and he is beginning to see himself as an individual capable of doing what he sets his mind on doing.
He is continuing to learn about 50 new words each month. He knows more nouns than any other type of word since so much of his interest has been in cataloguing everything in his world. As his interest has shifted to what he can do with the things he can name, verbs are his next largest group of words. Adverbs like: in, out, up, and down, form the third major group of words your child uses regularly now.
His understanding that things exist even if he cannot see them has grown. Just as he uses words to express what is currently happening, he now also is able to express what happened in the past. He has been able to remember the past for a while, but now he has words to express what he remembers.
You may notice some fears appearing that he never seemed to have before. He is now able to remember the past and associate uncomfortable feelings with people or places. He may no longer like to go to the doctor’s office. Don’t make promises you can’t keep or lie about what pain he may experience. Talk about what will happen in as positive a way as possible.
Even though he knows a lot of words, he may mispronounce them so much that it is hard to know what he is saying. Most children this age pronounce “b”, “m”, and “p” clearly because they can see how the lips form these sounds. Sounds formed in the back of the mouth like, “g” and “k” may be much harder to learn. “r”, “w”, and “l” often get interchanged as do “th”, “sh”, and “ch.” Sometimes it is the order of the sounds that make certain words more difficult. Mispronunciations at this age are nothing to worry about. You will do much to help your child’s language development by reading lots of picture books and encouraging him to name all he sees. Lots of face-to-face conversations also help him see how you talk. You are his best model.
Continue to be a model of good speech. Don’t repeat his mispronunciations and don’t try to force him to say words correctly. Just model good speech and he will catch on in time.
Normal or Gifted?
Many two year olds exhibit unusually advanced skill in one area or another. They may be very far ahead of their peers physically, linguistically, or socially. At this age, however, it is difficult to know if your child is truly gifted or likes a certain skill and seems to learn it more easily than other children. Most often a child’s special talents lie in specific areas. Only in rare instances is a child gifted in everything.
Every child, whether gifted, normal, or challenged, needs exactly the same things during these preschool years. They need lots of stimulation in a wide variety of areas. They should have lots of time and attention “talking” with adults, reading books, and exposure to new people and places. They need lots of fresh air and large muscle activities. They need opportunities to practice hand-eye coordination and small muscle development along with plenty of free time to explore and play with toys.
In a safe, secure atmosphere they develop their creativity and perfect skills they are learning. This is the solid foundation you can give your child to develop his full potential whether gifted or not. “School” learning will come more easily later on if your child has this solid foundation for learning.
Don’t over use DVDs or TV. Children who watch more than two hours of TV per day have slower language development, are more prone to obesity, and have a greater frequency of attention problems. If you are going to allow your child TV time, stick to age-appropriate, commercial-free preschooler shows. Know what your child is watching, what lessons he is learning, and what images are being stored in his very susceptible mind.
Oh how embarrassing it can be for parents when their child decides to explore or play with his genitals in public! Yikes, what’s a mother to do?! First of all, know this is totally normal at this age. Remember the key word for this age is curiosity. He is exploring everything about himself. If you have begun potty training, he now has more access to his genitals than he did just a short while ago.
Secondly, he is not turning into a sex maniac. He may have discovered that touching himself causes a pleasant sensation. However, at this age, he does not have the imaginative skills necessary for a truly sexual experience. Just like sucking his thumb or twirling his hair between his fingers is calming and pleasurable, he may be self-soothing by touching himself.
So what is your best response? Distract him. Give him something else to do with his hands. A shocked expression on your face, a sharp word, or smack can increase his curiosity. He is also just stubborn enough to continue and make the event that much more uncomfortable for you.
If it continues more than a few weeks or becomes more frequent or intense, check with your child’s doctor. A urinary infection or other health problem could be the cause.
Some New Games to Play
Decision-making is a most useful skill for children to learn. This skill begins in early childhood and is well-formed by the time a child enters school. You can give your child a head start in this skill by helping him learn how to decide if he has a greater than average chance of being correct and judging the consequences of success or failure. Here are some games to help him practice decision-making.
In this game you choose three glasses with similar diameter, but different heights. Line them up in front of your child and fill the middle one with water. Point to the taller glass and ask him if that glass will hold all the water in the full glass. No matter whether he says yes or no, ask him to find out. Let him pour the water into the taller glass. “See, the big glass holds all the water!” Then pour the water back into the middle glass and repeat the question with the short glass. Then have him try. “No, the little one couldn’t hold all the water; some of it spilled out.” He will soon be able to judge the amount by the comparative heights of the glasses.
The next step is to use three containers that are the same height but different widths. Repeat the process with these new containers. After a few tries, he will learn to make the correct judgment.
Finally mix all the containers you have been using. Fill one container and randomly point to another one. This is much more difficult because he has to take into account both height and width. He will only score about 50% which is the same as chance. Don’t worry about this. You are providing experience in judging quantity.
You will keep him interested in the game much longer if you take turns with him. If he guesses right, he gets to fill the container of his choice and ask you to judge another one. Miss on your turn occasionally to make the game fun for him.
Game with a Consequence
Cut a hole in a box that will allow some toys to fit and is too small for other toys. Gather up some toys for him to try to drop through the hole. Pick up toys at random and ask him if they will fit in the hole. After he has answered, let him try. If he gets it right, give him a little reward, like a goldfish cracker or an M&M. With this as a reward, he will begin to try every toy, just in case it may go in and he gets another treat.
The next time you play the game, change the rules slightly. This time, he still gets a reward for every correct guess, but he loses a reward previously gained, if he guesses incorrectly. Now the consequences of his choice are greater and he will make a greater effort to judge correctly. Soon he will know which toys fit and which ones don’t. You can change toys or cut a different sized or a different shaped hole in the box. Choosing toys that are closer to the same size also makes the game harder, when he is ready for more challenge.
Biting and what to do about it
Biting is usually a reaction to feeling afraid, angry, or threatened and not being able to express the feeling in words. Two year olds don’t bite to purposely hurt someone else. So it is helpful to look for the underlying cause.
But first, you need to defuse the situation. Separate the children involved so there can be no repeat performance. Start by stating calmly, but firmly, “No biting. Biting hurts people.” Don’t over react or fuss over the biter. Instead focus on soothing the bitten child. Since one of the things a biter wants is attention, comforting the “poor” child who was bitten means he is not getting “rewarded” for his bad behavior.
Once the other child is quieted down, take time to talk with the one who did the biting. If you know the child was angry because the other child took his toy from him, you can say, “It’s ok to get mad when someone takes your toy, but it is not ok to bite.” You can coach the child to say something like, “I don’t like it when you grab my toy.”
Encourage your child to come to you or another adult when he is upset. If he comes to you, help him to know what to say to the other child. If the other child is being a bully, help them find different activities so they are not aggravating each other. Watch your child carefully. Some warning signs of approaching trouble are crying, yelling, foot-stamping, and lunging toward another child. Step in before a bite occurs.
Another approach that works with some children is talking about biting. Ask your child to tell you what food he likes to bite. Then you can name other things (a carrot, a stick, an apple, a ball) and ask him whether they are OK to bite. Get progressively sillier (a book, daddy’s briefcase, the car) and laugh together about it. This may work better than sermonizing.
Toddlers know how to make messes. They live in the moment and are easily distracted, so they abandon one toy to begin playing with another one. They also seem compelled to see what is inside every box, drawer, or cupboard. Once there are many different types of toys on the floor, they don’t know where to begin to clean up. He will do a much better job of cleaning up if you join him in the game and give him lots of praise for his help.
You can make cleaning up part of the “fun” of playing with certain toys. After completing a puzzle, help him break it into pieces and put them in a box. Then be sure to praise his tidiness. When he finishes playing with clay, teach him that the last thing he does is roll it into a ball and put it in it’s container.
Heavenly Father, help me to know how to channel my child’s curiosity and energy into fun, wholesome learning experiences. Thank you for helping me to enjoy my child one day at a time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.