At the time of the second birthday, parents are pleased with their children's emerging skills and increasing interaction with the world around them. Most parents have gained confidence in their parenting skills. But beware: during this age, your 2-year-old might show a variety of emotions, including affection, pleasure, assertiveness and protest.

Your child's understanding of the rules can be very different from your expectations. During this time, setting firm and consistent limitations for behavior is important. Most 2-year-olds ultimately want to please their parents, so be sure to praise your child when his or her behavior is appropriate and when he or she accomplishes a new skill.

You will find your child to be talkative, inquisitive and very active. During this time, his or her vocabulary will grow rapidly. Reading to your child will help increase vocabulary and improve verbal expression and listening skills. Your child will speak in two-word sentences and understand simple commands.

Your child will love climbing and opening doors. Push toys, hammering, stacking, and musical toys will be entertaining. Although 2-year-olds enjoy being with other children, they often play independently. Imitation is a primary method of learning and enjoyment at this age. As a parent, your behavior is important, too.

Your child might start showing signs that he or she is ready for potty training. He or she might stay dry for longer periods during the day or have a regular schedule of bowel movements. He or she might also be curious about the toilet and aware of his or her own bodily functions.

Children will generally learn to use the potty when they are ready. Encourage your child and provide assistance when needed. It's normal for children to master potty training in small steps.

Safety first

  • Poison-proof the home, paying special attention to cabinets at child level. In the event your child eats or drinks a potentially harmful substance, keep the container and call the Poison Control Center toll-free at 800.222.1222. A representative will tell you what to do.
  • Hot tap water should be less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Most burns occur in the bathroom.
  • Smoke detectors should be located on each level of your home and outside of each bedroom. Test smoke detectors once a month and change the batteries once every six months.
  • Keep firearms unloaded and locked in a cabinet if you must have them in the home.
  • Protect electrical cords and cover outlets. Don't overload sockets or extension cords.
  • Keep the door locked or a gate in place if there is a danger that the child might fall down the steps.
  • Your child should always ride in a car seat in the back seat of the car.
  • Never leave your child unattended in a bathtub, pool or body of water.
  • Your child should never be left alone outdoors. He or she should always have adult supervision when crossing the street or playing in the yard.
  • When using a hook-on feeding seat, never place anything under the seat, such as an adult chair. Children can use their feet to push against the chair and unhook the seat.
  • Always use the seat and crotch restraints on highchairs. The tray alone does not provide enough security.
  • Make sure your child sits while eating, preferably at the table. Choking is more likely to occur when a child eats while running or lying down.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/28/2018.


  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. What can parents expect during their infant’s well-child visits? ( Accessed 11/20/2018.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Developmental Milestones: 2 Year Olds. ( Accessed 11/20/2018.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Language Development: 2 Year Olds. ( Accessed 11/20/2018.
  • Poison Prevention Week Council. FAQ’s. ( Accessed 11/20/2018.

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