Social and emotional development are generally lumped together in child development. They are the focus of early learning experiences, and for good reason, too. It is important to have a strong base in social-emotional skills, as these skills help build positive attitudes and behaviors that will impact a child throughout their life.
DEFINITION OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Social development is all about learning how to relate to and interact with others. For two year olds, this is very new and often difficult. Two year olds are still very egocentric by nature, so they are not able to see a situation from someone else’s point of view. To them, everyone thinks and feels the same as they do.
2-YEAR-OLD SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT MILESTONES
- Imitates others
- Begins to play with other children (but is still mostly parallel play)
- Engages in more pretend play
- Shows interest in others (waves to people at the grocery store)
- Defends territory (“It’s mine!” stage)
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES
By age two, most children are imitating social behaviors that they see around them. You may notice your child pretending to talk on the phone. They will mimic words that they hear you say, and even your tone when you talk on the phone or to them. Playing house with your child is a great way to demonstrate positive social behaviors. It’s also a great way for your toddler to practice those social skills without any of the real social pressures. Playing imitation games with your child and lots of pretend play are great ways to build a strong foundation in social skills.
DEFINITION OF EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Emotional development is all about gaining the skills needed to identify, express, and manage one’s emotions. Learning how to appropriately respond to others’ emotions is also part of emotional development. By two years old, children are beginning to experience a wider range of emotions, which makes managing them more difficult. This is why tantrums are so common at this age.
2-YEAR-OLD EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT MILESTONES
- Shows frustration easily (tantrums are common)
- Attempts to comfort others
- Asserts independence
- Begins to say “no” to requests
- Shows wider range of emotions
- Expresses assertiveness
EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES
The best thing you can do to help your two year old develop their emotional awareness is to model the behaviors you want to see from your child. Since two year olds are such great imitators, they will copy what they see from you. It’s important that you verbalize what you are feeling and how you are managing those emotions, too.
Use pretend play to help foster your child’s social-emotional development. Pretend play is a great way to model positive behaviors and talk about feelings. You can use baby dolls or stuffed animals to create common social situations that your toddler finds difficult. For example, you can pretend the baby dolls are having a snack together when one takes the other’s food. Use simple language with the baby dolls to model strong social-emotional skills.