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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    By age 2, what skills should a toddler be able to do?

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  • Grant McKell

    Psychologist

    Grant McKell is a counselling psychologist working in Sydney's inner west with over ten years' experience. He founded HeadsUp Psychology in August, 2011. Having worked in … View Profile

    Let me just start by pointing out that different kids develop at different rates. If your child isn't doing the things that I will list below, don't panic, they probably will. Monitor their progress and if you are concerned, then seek out a speech pathologist or an occupational therapist for assessment to see if you really should be concerned. If there is an issue, these professionals will be able to help you.
    The sorts of things that most two year olds can do include:

    • using a fork and spoon
    • taking off their own clothes
    • naming at least six body parts
    • being intelligible with half of their spoken language
    • making 2-3 word sentences
    • using 50-70 words
    • kicking a ball forward
    • following two-step instructions
    Half of all 2 year olds are good at:
    • talking about themselves (some of us are still great at that!)
    • arranging things in categories
    • walking down stairs
    Some 2 year olds are good at:
    • jumping
    • understanding abstract concepts (eg. sooner or later)
    • understanding gender differences

    Two year olds are also learning about cause and effect. Their brains are now beginning to store long term memories, which means that the are storing the effects of their behaviours. The first behaviours that they try are tantrumming. This is because, as babies, they cry to get what they need. Therefore, this is the first behaviours that are tried. The difference now, however, is that they are remembering if these behaviours work! Hence, the term the terrible twos. It is imperative at this age that you encourage the display of behaviours that you wish your child to display and reward these accordingly. Do not reward tantrum behaviour, even for some peace and quiet. You do not want your child to learn that these behaviours work!

    Good luck, happy parenting!

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