Child Development


Two Year Old

Motor Development

  • Can walk around obstacles and walk more erect

  • Can sit on the heels for long periods while playing

  • Climbs stairs unassisted (but not with alternating feet)

  • Balances on one foot for a few moments, jumps up and down, but may fall

  • Climbs up on chair, turns around and sits down

  • Uses feet to propel wheeled riding toys

  • Often achieves Toilet Training during this year

  • Throws large ball underhand without losing balance. Holds cup or glass in one hand. Unbuttons large buttons; unzips large zippers

  • Opens doors by turning doorknobs

  • Grasps crayon with fist; scribbles enthusiastically on large paper

  • Stacks 4-6 objects on top of one another

  • Enjoys pouring and filling activities-sand, water, peanuts etc.


  • Realizes that language is important for making others respond to needs and preferences.

  • Receptive language is more developed than expressive language; two year olds can understand significantly more than what they can speak.

  • Enjoys getting involved in reading, but needs to be kept involved by pointing, making relevant noises, turning pages.

  • Uses 50-100 different words, vocabulary continuously increasing

  • Utters 3-4 word statements

  • Has broken the linguistic code i.e. frame their own words and much of their talk has meaning to them only

  • Repeatedly asks, “What’s that?”

  • Refers to self as “Me” or sometimes “I” rather than by name. Can easily speak “Mine”

  • Expresses negative statements by using negative words such as “no” or “not”. Example:“Not more milk”

  • Uses some plurals

  • Some stammering and other dysfluencies are common

  • Speech is about 65-70 percent understandable

Cognitive Development

  • Eye-hand movement better coordinated; can put objects together, can take them apart; can fit larger puzzles

  • Begins to use objects for different purposes (may push a block around as boat)

  • Does simple classification tasks (separates toy animal from toy cars)

  • Stares for long moments; gets fascinated by the situation: where the ball has rolled, where a noise is coming from etc.

  • Involves in self selected activities for longer periods of time. Discovering cause and effect: spilling water makes clothes wet

  • Knows where familiar persons should be; notes their absence; finds hidden objects by looking in previous hiding place first.

  • Names objects in picture books; may pretend to pick something off the page and taste or smell it.

  • Recognizes and expresses pain and its location.

Social and Emotional Development

  • Shows signs of empathy and caring: comforts another child if hurt or frightened; sometimes overly affectionate in offering hugs and kisses to children

  • Continues to use physical aggression if frustrated or angry; it usually lessens as verbal skills improve

  • Temper tantrums (bad temper)usually peak up at this age

  • Impatient; finds it difficult to wait or take turns

  • Enjoys “helping” with household chores; imitates everyday activities like feeding a doll etc.

  • “Bossy” with parents, orders them around, makes demands and expects immediate compliance from them.

  • Watches and imitates play of other children, but seldom joins in; content to play alone

  • Offers toys to other children, but is usually possessive of playthings

  • Making choices is difficult; wants it both ways

  • Often rebellious ; shouting “no” becomes automatic

  • Ritualistic; wants everything “just so”; belongings placed “where they belong”

Three Year Old

Motor Development

  • Walks up and down stairs unassisted, using alternating feet; may jump from bottom step, landing on both feet

  • Can walk on one foot, balance momentarily

  • Can kick big ball-shaped objects

  • Needs minimal assistance eating

  • Jumps on the spot

  • Pedals a small tricycle

  • Throws a ball overhand; aim and distance are limited

  • Catches a large bounced ball with both arms extended

  • Enjoys swinging on a swing (not too high or too fast)

  • Shows improved control of crayons; uses vertical, horizontal or circular strokes

  • Holds crayon or marker between two fingers and thumb (tripod grasp)

  • Can turn pages of a book one at a time

  • Enjoys building with blocks: builds a tower of 8 or more blocks

  • Enjoys playing with clay

  • May begin to show hand dominance (lefty/righty)

  • Carries a container of liquid (cup etc.) without much spilling; pours liquid from one container to another

  • Manages larger buttons and zippers on clothing

  • Washes and dries hands; brushes own teeth, but not thoroughly

  • Usually achieves complete bladder control

Cognitive Development

  • Listens attentively to age appropriate stories

  • Makes relevant comments during stories, especially those related to home and family events

  • Enjoys stories with guessing and suspense

  • Likes to look at books and pretend may pretend to “read” to others or explain pictures

  • Stacks objects in sized order and can make a pyramid

  • Uses objects symbolically in play: block of wood may be a truck, a bat etc.


  • Speech is understandable most of the time

  • Produces expanded noun phrase: “big, brown dog”

  • Produces verbs with “ing” endings; uses “ –s” to indicate more than one

  • Indicates negatives by inserting “no” or “not” before a simple noun or verb phrase : “Not baby”

  • Answers “what are you doing?”, “what is this?”, and “where?” questions dealing with familiar objects and events.

Social Development

  • Friendly; laughs frequently; is eager to please

  • Has occasional nightmares and fears the dark, monsters, or fire

  • Joins in simple games and group activities, sometimes hesitantly

  • Often talks to self

  • Observes other children playing; may join in for a short while; often plays parallel to other children

  • Defends toys and possessions; may become aggressive at times by grabbing a toy, hiding toys, hitting other children

  • Engages in self-believe play alone or with other children

  • Show affection to children who are younger or who get hurt

  • Sits and listens to stories up to 10 minutes at a time; does not bother other children listening to a story and dislikes being bothered.

  • May continue to have a special blanket, stuffed animal or toy for comfort.

Four Year Old

Motor Development

  • Walks a straight line

  • Hops on one foot

  • Pedals and steers a wheeled toy with confidence; turns corners, avoids obstacles and oncoming traffic

  • Climbs ladder, trees, playground equipments

  • Jumps over objects 5 or 6 inches high; lands with both feet together

  • Runs, starts, stops and moves around obstacles with ease

  • Throws a ball overhand; distance and aim improving

  • Builds a tower with 10 or more blocks

  • Forms shapes and objects out of lay: cookies, snakes, simple animals

  • Paints and draws with purpose; may have an idea in mind, but often has problems implementing it so calls the creation something else

  • Becomes more accurate at hitting nails and bolts with hammer

  • Threads small wooden beads on a string

  • Can run in a circle

Cognitive Development

  • Can recognize that certain words sound similar

  • Names 18-20 uppercase (A, B, C etc.) letters. Writes several letters.

  • A few children are beginning to read simple books, such as alphabet books with only a few words per page and many pictures

  • Likes stories about how things grow and how things operate

  • Delights in wordplay, creating silly language

  • Understands the concepts of “tallest”, “biggest”, “same”, “more”; selects the picture that has the “most houses” or the “biggest dog”

  • Counts to 20 or more

  • Understands the sequence of daily events: “when we get up in the morning, we brush, get dressed, have breakfast and go to school.”

  • When looking at pictures, can recognize and identify missing puzzle parts (of person, car, animal)


  • Uses the prepositions “on”, “in”, and “under”

  • Uses possessives consistently: “hers”, “theirs”, “baby’s”

  • Answers “whose”, “who”, “why”, and “how many”

  • Produces elaborate sentence structures

  • Speech is almost entirely understandable

  • Begins to correctly use the past tense of verbs: “I played football”

  • Refers to activities, events, objects and people that are not present

  • Changes tone of voice and sentence structure to adapt to listener’s level of understanding: to baby brother, “Milk gone?” To mother, “Did the baby drink all of his milk?”

  • States first and last name, gender, sibling’s names, and sometimes own telephone number.

  • Answers appropriately when asked what to do if tired, cold, or hungry. Recites and sings simple songs and rhymes.

Social Development

  • Outgoing; friendly; over enthusiastic at times

  • Moods change rapidly and unpredictably; may throw tantrums over minor frustrations; sulk over being left out

  • Imaginary playmates or companions are common; holds conversations and shares strong emotions with this invisible friend

  • Boasts, exaggerates and bends the truth with made up stories

  • Cooperates with others; participates in group activities

  • Shows pride in accomplishments; seeks frequent adult approval

  • Often appears selfish

  • Insists on trying to do things independently, but may get frustrated when problems arise: paper airplanes that will not fold right

  • Enjoys role-playing and make-believe activities

  • Relies (most of the time) on verbal rather than physical aggression; may yell angrily

  • Name calling and taunting are often used as ways of excluding other children

  • Establishes close relationships with playmates;

  • Beginning to have best friends.