As they approach their second birthdays, toddlers are increasingly able to verbalize their emotions and wants, which makes the job of parenting a lot easier, since you don’t have to frantically guess what your child is so upset about! But this is also a transition period: at this age, toddlers are still clingy, but sometimes willing to venture out on his or her own. They are often desperately protective of their toys, but sometimes able to share with friends and siblings (at least for short periods of time). Some children reach (relative) emotional maturity faster than others, but many children at this age experience frequent bouts of frustration and may have tantrums when they can’t accomplish a task or their will is thwarted. This is totally normal! Patience and consistency will go a long way in helping your child develop healthy emotional boundaries.
By 20-24 months, most toddlers will:
- Behave shyly or cling to their parents in unfamiliar situations or when around strangers.
- Express concern for crying friends or siblings.
- Slap, hit, bite, or otherwise act out when they’re feeling frustrated or thwarted.
- Show affection to parents, friends, siblings, and caretakers.
- Have occasional (or not-so-occasional) temper tantrums.
- Play happily by themselves for short periods of time.
- Act with increasing defiance and independence (deliberately not listening to you, exploring by themselves).
- Crave the company of other children their age.
By 20-24 months, some toddlers may:
- Become very attached to a “lovey” (a doll, a blanket, or even a household object).
- Be able to play happily with siblings or other children for extended periods of time.
- Start playing imaginary games (dressing up or acting like a fireman, ballerina, astronaut, etc.).
By 20-24 months, a few toddlers can:
- Reliably follow the rules laid down by their parents (“Don’t go in that cabinet,” “Use your inside voice,” etc.).
- Share their toys for more than a few minutes.
More in milestones:
- 20-24 Months: Physical Development
- 20-24 Months: Cognitive Development
- Why developmental milestones will make you crazy
- Toddlers aged 20-24 months are much better at verbalizing their emotions than just a few months before.
- Toddlers are more likely to share their toys with others for longer than a few minutes.
- At this age, most toddlers are affectionate to friends, family, and caregivers.