As Baby starts to slowly make friends with, and to become closer to, the other toddlers in his life, it won’t just affect the way they play together during a playdate. Baby will also start to care about his friends’ feelings. It might not seem like it when they’re fighting over a toy or having trouble taking turns, but toddlers become more empathetic every day.
They’re not great at reading what other people’s feelings might be yet – which is why parents and caregivers are still often called in to do some emotional interpreting – but they’re starting to get the hang of the obvious ones. This means that if your toddler sees a friend of theirs crying, there’s a good chance he’ll try to comfort them, and an even better chance that he’ll get upset or agitated for his friend, even if he doesn’t know what to do about it yet.
He probably is also learning to share and take turns, but this can take longer than many parents are expecting, and often doesn’t really start to click until toddlers start to really make friends in earnest. After all, a lot of the playground sharing that happens isn’t because the tots doing the sharing want to be nice – it’s just as likely, or even more likely, to happen because toddlers who share have realized it’s more fun to play with shared toys with friends than it is to play with their own toys all on their own.
And speaking of toys, Baby is reaching the age when open-ended, creative gifts like art supplies can be a big hit, and he’s also reaching the point when, for the first time, more structured games are on the menu. Baby is reaching the age where he can sit still, wait his turn, and remember and follow rules, which are all skills that most structured games need. More than that, he’s also reaching the time when playing with other children – something often paired with playing more structured games – makes the inconvenience of having to take turns and follow rules worth it.
Stops napping regularly: Different children have different sleep needs, but most toddlers drop their nap between the ages of three and four. This means that for some toddlers, as they approach age three, an afternoon nap could start to become unnecessary most of the time. If you’re stuck in the middle period, where some days your little one really could use a nap, but on others, he can do without it, making the time that used to be naptime into a regularly scheduled “quiet time” can help to bridge the gap – and maybe convince a reluctant napper to lie down and take a few deep breaths, even if he can’t sleep, or just “can’t sleep.”
Can draw a circle: You may need to draw a circle for him so that he has something to copy, but that’s just because it might not even occur to him to draw a circle unless you give him the idea to. He may get a lot of use out of circle-drawing in a year or two – when it comes to writing – but there’s no way for him to know that now.
- Rebecca Parlakian and Claire Lerner. “From Baby to Big Kid: Month 34.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, May 16 2016. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1275-from-baby-to-big-kid-month-34.
- Rebecca Parlakian and Claire Lerner. “From Baby to Big Kid: Month 33.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, May 16 2016. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1274-from-baby-to-big-kid-month-33.
- “30-36 Months: Your Child’s Development.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 10 2016. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/108-30-36-months-your-child-s-development.
- “Activities for Bonding and Learning from 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, April 18 2016. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1079-activities-for-bonding-and-learning-from-24-to-36-months.
- “Developmental Milestones: 2 Years Old.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, June 1 2009. Retrieved August 14 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/Developmental-Milestones-2-Year-Olds.aspx.
- “Developmental Milestones: 3 to 4 Year Olds.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 21 2015. Retrieved August 14 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/Pages/Developmental-Milestones-3-to-4-Year-Olds.aspx.
- “Developmental Skills for Ages 2 to 3 Years.” Fairview Health Services. University of Minnesota, Amplatz Children’s Hospital. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.fairview.org/fv/groups/internet/documents/web_content/developmen_201009262104505.pdf.
- “Feeding: What to Expect From 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 16 2009. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/154-feeding-what-to-expect-from-24-to-36-months.
- “Learning and Development: Young Children 24 to 36 Months.” Better Brains for Babies. University of Georgia. Retrieved September 7 2017. http://bbbgeorgia.org/childDev_24-36.php.
- “Play Activities for 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 17 2010. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/169-play-activities-for-24-to-36-months.
- “Physical Activity for Your Child: Age 2 Years.” Lancaster General Health. Penn Medicine. Retrieved September 7 2017. http://www.lancastergeneralhealth.org/LGH/ECommerceSite/media/LGH-Media-Library/Documents/Services/Service%20Lines/Healthy%20Weight%20Management/Fact%20Sheets/Physical-Activity-Age-2.pdf.
- “Stages of Play from 24-36 Months: The World of Imagination.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 26 2015. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/315-stages-of-play-from-24-36-months-the-world-of-imagination.
- “Your Child at Three Years.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/checklists/checklists_3yr.pdf.