Developing Language and Social Skills

Between 2 and 3, your child's social skills slowly emerge. Though her interactions are primitive, her peer contacts at this stage are significant.

Introduction

toddler playing

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Although infants may stare at and touch each other, the year from age 2 to 3 is when true social skills, albeit tentative ones, emerge. This early sociability may not be readily apparent, however.

If your newly turned 2-year-old takes part in regular playdates, he may seem barely to notice the other children involved -- except, perhaps, when someone grabs his toy. That's because most socializing is still parallel play, in which children play next to, but not really with, each other.

Sharing also remains difficult. The concepts of me and mine are linked closely to the toddler's blossoming sense of self, so conflicts over toys and other possessions among 2-year-olds are inevitable. Biting, hitting, and pushing are some of the unpleasant but likely consequences, and "No, mine!" is an often-heard protest. As the year goes on, however, your child will begin to interact more cooperatively. Older toddlers start to use their burgeoning imaginations to role-play together, creating brief tea parties or superhero escapades.

But even when play seems primitive or fraught with conflict, you shouldn't underestimate the importance of your 2-year-old's peer contacts. Research shows that children as young as 20 months begin to form relationships. They clearly prefer to play with certain friends, and the main object of their affection usually reciprocates.

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