Your Toddler's Physical Development 2-3 years
Your child at a glance
Your child’s confidence in physical movement increases, and fine motor skill activities are becoming more deliberate. During this stage you are likely to see your child:
- Walking and running on full feet
- Undressing plus assisting in getting dressed
- Climbing up and down stairs, usually holding on with two feet on each step
- Learning to jump off the ground with both feet
- Pulling toys with strings
- Walking on tiptoe
- Learning to kick a ball
- More deliberate drawing and scribbling, and learning to draw circles
- Learning to string large beads
- One hand is starting to be dominant (RESEARCH – right handedness only)?)
Your child’s story
Between the age of 2 and 3, there is a marked acceleration in your toddler's physical strength, confidence and coordination. You will probably see him walking on tiptoe, learning to kick a ball, and walking and running on full feet. During this year he learn to jump off the ground with both feet, practice balancing skills (e.g. standing on one foot with support), and her can learn to ride a tricycle. Climbing frames tend to be popular, as well as climbing onto furniture. When climbing stairs, he is likely to hold on with two feet on each step, but gradually trying out one foot per step. Remember that your child is focusing on trying things out, not keeping himself safe, so you must set and enforce limits and ensure safe opportunities to play and learn.
Your toddler is likely to manage to get herself undressed and may even be able to put some items back on, or at least assist you while you are dressing her. Dressing and undressing involve both gross and fine motor skills. Doing buttons will probably be of great interest to her (and requires fine motor skill), but will still pose quite a challenge (apart from pop-buttons).
In further fine motor development, one hand is starting to be more dominant, and you will notice that your toddler can use his spoon (and perhaps other utensils) well, and engages in more deliberate scribbling. Encourage the joy of drawing, praise his efforts and ask him what he is drawing. He will often see familiar people, favourite toys or animals in his drawings. So although it can be enjoyable to just make something abstract, remember that he may have drawn something very deliberate or indeed see a clear image in his drawing. He will also love it when you draw with him, and may ask you to draw some of his favourite things. Your toddler may start holding a crayon with thumb and fingers instead of whole fist, and he will be able to draw circles. You can encourage him to copy you in drawing vertical and horizontal lines as well as circles.
Your toddler will enjoy building a small tower of blocks, and may also become more interested in concentrating on smaller things such as putting a few larger beads on a string. She may start walking with a pull-along toy, which involves both fine and gross motor skills. She can turn pages of a book one by one, and will enjoy rolling and squeezing things like playdough.
What you can do to support and encourage your child’s development
Your toddler’s increasing physical strength and confidence means that playground equipment, such as slides, swings and climbing frames, will be exhilarating for him. Encourage and support him in his exploration and learning, whilst ensuring he keeps safe.
Play with a ball together and enjoy watching your child running after it and kicking it while laughing out loud. It’s also great to have toys around that can be stacked and built into towers, as well as simple puzzles and toys that can be moved around (e.g. cars) and dressed or undressed (e.g. dolls).
Provide lots of drawing paper and crayons of different shapes and colours, and sit with him to support and encourage his efforts as well as doing some drawing yourself. You can make playdough to satisfy the joy of squeezing, rolling and patting a different texture, as well as supporting and encouraging creativity.
Read together, look at pictures, and let your toddler point out and talk about familiar objects as well as enjoying turning pages.