Social Development of a 2-Year-Old

Updated April 17, 2017

At the age of 2, toddlers are undergoing rapid change and development. A child's motor skills, such the ability to walk up and down stairs, are improving, as are his sensory and cognitive skills, and he is becoming increasingly interested in exploration. Social skills are also improving and becoming more sophisticated every day.


At the age of 2, a toddler's vocabulary increases to several hundred words and sentences become more complex, often consisting of two to three words. According to Joyce Powell and Charles Smith of the National Network for Child Care, children at this age begin asking questions -- about the location of an object, for example -- and express desires and feelings. They also begin to practice humming and singing.


Although most 2-year-olds enjoy interacting with other children, they are more likely to play alongside others than with them. While sharing their space may not be a problem, it may be another year or so before they feel comfortable sharing toys and other objects. Imitating the behaviour of others, like parents and other children, commonly occurs at this age, too.


Known as the "terrible twos," this age can be a challenge for parents. Regression, the transition between wanting to be treated like a baby and older child, often occurs at this age and can often be the result of changes to the child's routine or environment, such as a new baby in the family. Children at the age of 2 often act very possessively towards a parent or caregiver, displaying jealousy and persistence when they are not receiving attention.


At 2 years old, most toddlers display an increasing desire to be independent. Although you may find that this results in fewer instances of separation anxiety, it can leave children frustrated and angry when they are unable to fully express themselves or complete a task independently. This often leads to temper tantrums and the destruction of toys or other objects. In contrast, toddlers are increasingly affectionate and sometimes often offer spontaneous hug and kisses to those around them.

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About the Author

Kaye Jones has been a freelance writer since 2009, specializing in history, education and mental health. Her undergraduate dissertation was published by the Internet Journal of Criminology. Jones has a first-class honors Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Manchester.