The 'terrible two's are winding down and she's becoming much more independent! Read more about the 3 months of development leading up to age of 3.
The terrible twos that can be defined by difficult behaviour are usually concentrated between two and three years of age and wind down by the end of the year although this phase can persist past three years of age for some toddlers.
Signs that could suggest your toddler has a developmental problem include preferring to be in her own world rather than interacting with others, not being able to run smoothly or safely climb stairs or onto low furniture, persistently drooling or speaking unclearly, always having extreme difficulty in being separated from her parents, not responding to her own name, not being able to interpret non-verbal communication such as facial expressions or gestures, not maintaining or making eye contact, or being overly sensitive to sensory stimulation such disliking being touched.
How they grow
Adult height can be predicted from three years of age as little boys are approximately 53% of the height they will grow to and little girls are slightly more than this at 57%.
The natural flexibly that your toddler has in her early years due to the elasticity of her muscles and ligaments decreases from age three onwards, so flexibility will need to be maintained with flexibility focused exercise in later years such as gymnastics and swimming.
Physical and motor skills
By her third birthday, your toddler will generally be able to walk very well, jump on the spot without falling and be able to walk up and down stairs. She should be capable of running and stopping suddenly without falling, in addition to climbing skilfully, bending over easily without falling, walking on her tiptoes and kicking a ball forward. Try giving her different types of balls to play with to help with her hand to eye coordination.
As her mobility increases, her play may now involve time at the park and she probably enjoys being pushed on a swing although she may become nervous if she is too high or the swing is too fast. Children this age perfect their motor skills by spending endless hours going down a slippery dip and climbing up on furniture and in and out of objects such as boxes for as long as their energy holds out. Your toddler may get stuck when climbing and she could require your help getting down at heights where she could lose balance and fall.
Therefore the importance of safety will need to be regularly explained and demonstrated to your toddler. Establish rules about safety and enforce them so that she won’t become overconfident in her abilities and so she can begin building an understanding of obvious safety hazards such as traffic or something hot and know how to avoid them. Try to set up safe obstacle courses at home or visit age appropriate kid activity centres where there are safety mats so your toddler can run loose and build confidence with any risk of hurting herself.
Scribbling without being able to write numbers or letters is what most toddlers still do at twenty four months, but your toddler could show an interest in writing her name and drawing more complex shapes, especially if she goes to preschool.
She will also use her hands to build tall towers of blocks and now that she can turn things in her hands will open doors, by twisting doorknobs and other things like lids and taps.
Some toddlers may even be almost completely toilet trained by the age of 3.
Your toddler should need little to no help from either of her parents when eating by twenty four months and should use utensils more often than her fingers. Sometimes children will eat more when they feed themselves although it may take longer. If your toddler is eating her food rather than playing with it and seems to be content, give her as much time as she needs to finish a meal. But if distractions such as the television are slowing her down, try to eliminate them and get her to focus on finishing her meal. Toddlers who zone out while eating are less aware of when they are full and this could lead to bad eating habits as an older child.
Language and speech
By age three most children can follow more complex instructions and your toddler could have a vocabulary of 900 words or more and repeatedly ask lots of questions "why", and use plurals as well as nouns, adjectives and pronouns, quantifiers (some, more) and describe her surroundings using lots of different words.
She will now not only be able to listen to but also repeat simple nursery rhymes and songs and at least 75% of your child’s speech should be easily understood both to you and other people. If not she may have trouble hearing and could require speech therapy.
If your almost three year old can distinguish one to three colours or more correctly, has a preference for a favourite colour such as requesting a specific Play Doh or crayon and can count to 5, it will be clear that she is developing well intellectually.
Any opportunity to reinforce knowledge in a fun way will broaden your child’s development so play tickle games where you get your toddler to name each part of her body and ask her to make the sound of an animal by pointing to a certain animal in a book. Rest assured that television programs that foster learning such as Sesame Street or Play School while allowing your child to rest are actually beneficial and not harmful to your child’s cognitive development provided she isn't watching television all day, every day.
As your child moves from age two to age three, the early stages of imaginative play can cause a fear of the dark and this may lead to her having nightmares or night terrors.
Night terrors are different to nightmares because your child may stay partially asleep and in the throes of her nightmare for longer, and will have them in the first few hours of her sleep rather than later at night and may be inconsolable no matter how much you comfort her. Your children may not be conscious or only semi-conscious and could sweat profusely, scream, shake, cry or hyperventilate when in the middle of one although you may find she doesn’t remember it the next day either. For your own peace of mind as a parent though, it may be comforting to confirm that the night terrors are not due to seizures related to epilepsy or a high fever. Read the article on How to beat night terrors here.
Emotional and social skills
Your toddler will start to display some empathy and care for others, such as comforting or offering affection to someone who shows signs of emotional distress. She will also build trust with adults and children they spend lots of time, such as children they see a lot or caregivers at preschool, just as her play starts to become more social.
Your toddler will be even more independent with using the toilet, and should be asking to use it on a regular basis. A few toddlers may even be almost completely toilet trained.
A child is considered to be toilet-trained when she feels the sensation of needing to go to the bathroom and can climb onto and sit on the toilet with little help, and when she remembers to use toilet paper and flush the toilet, as one complete ritual.
Discuss your toddler's development with Essential Baby Mums.