Parent's Resource Center


Growing and moving
  • Toddlers learn to do an enormous number of things in a very short space of time. They will start to walk with feet a little apart to remain steady at first, to run - beginning awkwardly - to kneel and to climb on stairs.
  • As they develop better muscle control they enjoy more climbing and can manage a low slide and swing. They can push, pull and jump, and may be starting to throw and kick balls.
  • Toddlers can build towers of bricks and learn balancing. Their hands become better at holding and moving things and they may be able to use plastic scissors under supervision to practice cutting out - don't expect them to be good at it just let them enjoy snipping out rough shapes.
  • They enjoy moving to the sounds of music and rhythms and joining in with shakers and drums.
  • They can sometimes also dress themselves but will still need your help and supervision.
  • Give lots of encouragement and don't worry too much if things aren't done 'properly'.
Expressing feelings
  • Because toddlers don't have our full range of words they may show their feelings by:


    • crying (in all their different 'tones' depending on the cause)
    • laughing
    • tugging at sleeves to show or draw attention to something
    • bringing something to you for your comment
    • showing interest and focusing on an activity, person or thing.


  • Toddlers can be uneasy with new adults and situations. They may not always tell you with words, but may stay close and quiet. As they watch, listen and learn they will become more confident.
  • At this age children are interested in themselves. They recognize themselves in a mirror and learn that they are different from other people.
  • Toddlers may start to challenge what you say. Be patient and try to stay calm - it is quite common for toddlers to say 'No!' to anything!
  • You can help your toddler by listening to them, watching how they behave and helping them find words to describe and express their feelings.
  • The frustration felt by a toddler unable to express feelings can result in angry behavior like tantrums.


Being with others
  • Most toddlers enjoy watching others doing things and being in the middle of any activity, but they usually they prefer to play alone. They enjoy being close to other children even though they may not join in. This is natural.
  • They may not be ready to share their special people or things. They may throw tantrums, fight physically and tell other children to 'Go away!' or 'Mine!'. Deal calmly with this but don't ignore it. Talk to the toddler in simple words, explain why you don't like what they are doing and why you want them to share. Remember, they may not understand everything.
  • Toddlers like adult attention and will often try to involve you in their games. They will often show caring to others and you need to help them understand the best ways to share and to be with others. It is an important lesson in life.
  • To help your child learn to enjoy the company of others you might:


    • make time to spend with them
    • plan activities like sand play, musical instruments, collage and painting,. where they can practice being close to other children without having to share personal possessions.


  • By the age of three most toddlers will begin being more independent and social.
Talking and listening
  • By about 18 months of age most toddlers have a vocabulary of between 20 and 200 words. This depends on people talking with them so they can practice. The more you talk with them the more words they will learn and use.
  • Most toddlers enjoy imitating animal sounds. They also begin to name things like body parts, places and people. They understand simple questions and can give answers.
  • By about age three toddlers usually ask lots of questions. Try to understand what they are saying. They will show an interest in the world around them, recognize and talk about many things.
  • Reading to toddlers is a very important way to help children develop language skills. Give them cardboard books with few words and bright pictures and enjoy looking at them together.
  • When listening to your toddler try to:


    • show an interest, follow up with suggestions and answer their questions
    • keep speech direct and simple
    • encourage them to talk and think by asking them questions like who, what, where and why
    • introduce simple puzzles, stories and books which extend their world and language.
How toddlers think
  • Before toddlers ever speak the thinking process is well underway!
  • Babies make lots of different sounds and they may well be trying to 'talk' to us. They may even gain some meaning from the sounds we make when we talk.
  • Toddlers can usually understand what you say, your happy and sad feelings and when you want them to stop doing something.
  • As toddlers grow, stories and books will help them think and learn. Games, toys and puzzles extend this skill as they learn to play in new ways.
  • Toddlers begin to sort shapes, sizes, colors and different kinds of things. They can gradually follow simple directions, notice different things in their environment and constantly ask 'why'. Their sense of curiosity and thirst for knowledge will grow in leaps and bounds.
  • Drawing and painting will get toddlers thinking about the things around them and how to get these onto paper. Music gets them thinking about rhythms and sounds which they may try to imitate. Cooking teaches them about tastes, particularly the ones they like!
Things to watch for
  • By two years of age your child should be able to:


    • attempt to talk or repeat words
    • answer 'yes' or 'no' to simple questions
    • walk alone (or with very little help)
    • show a range of emotions: anger, delight, fear
    • show interest in pictures
    • hold their own cup to their mouth and drink.


  • If your two year old child is not doing these things check with your health care provider (doctor or community health nurse).


  • By three years of age your child should be able to:


    • walk confidently with few stumbles or falls
    • point to and name familiar objects
    • show interest in other children
    • enjoy being read to.


  • If your three year old child is not doing these things check with your health care provider (doctor or community health nurse).


                     Return To Home