For Parents
2-3 years
Social/Emotional Development

Social/Emotional Development

July 1, 2022

Social Emotional Development Between ages 2 and 3

Normal Development:

  • Notices how behavior affects others
  • Takes turns in games
  • Doesn’t like big changes in routine
  • Has an easier time separating from parents/caregivers
  • Shows affection for familiar playmates
  • Can feel guilt
  • Displays pride
  • Likes watching other children and copying them
  • May have one or two good friends
  • May develop fears (due to developing imagination)

What You Can Do:

  • Encourage pretend play
  • Give your child regular chances to play with children their age
  • Let your child try to resolve conflicts around sharing and turn-taking by him or herself (as long as they aren’t physically aggressive)
  • Use pretend play to help your child practice challenging situations
  • Let your child take the lead in play
  • Respond sensitively to your child’s fears
  • Use positive discipline: catch your child being good
  • Acknowledge feelings while teaching social skills (for example, “I know you wanted to play with the truck, but that little boy is playing with it and you can have it when he is done.”)
  • Help your child begin to understand what others’ feelings are

Our Advice:

  • Take your child’s fears seriously—never dismiss them
  • Respect that your child may not be comfortable in certain social situations, and this is okay
  • Explain to your child how their actions make others feel (“When you grabbed the doll from her hand, she got mad and cried,” or “Even though you bumped into that boy by accident it still scared him.”)

Try not to compare yourself to other parents, or your child to other children. Every family is different!

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