As parents, especially if it’s our first time in the trenches with our own baby, milestones can seem huge. We worry about whether our kids are meeting them, and to us, every last one of them is important.
I hope, though, that you have a pediatrician like mine, who constantly remains calm and shrugs and reminds us that every child is different, and develops on their own path and at their own speed.
If you’ve got a little closing in on age two (I do!), here’s what experts say you need to worry about – and the stuff they say you can let go.
To the latter point: speaking simple sentences, running, filling and emptying a bucket…those are all things that are great, but not necessary to assess how your two year old is developing.
Instead, experts say to consider these two milestones when assuring yourself that your child is doing just fine:
#1. How much and how well they move.
Can they walk? Run? Climb steps, manage slides, and generally keep up with the other kids at the playground?
If so, that’s a great sign, even if you frequently find your heart in your throat.
If your child can’t walk, I assume you already spoke with your doctor at their 15 or 18 month appointments. If you notice their gait becoming uneven or them choosing to walk on their tiptoes, you’ll want to address that, too.
If your kid is just cautious, though, it’s probably not an issue. Not every kid with space is going to run, and not every kid who looks up at a big kid slide is going to be in a hurry to get to the top.
Give them time to practice, and the encouragement to develop some confidence, before you worry caution means trouble.
#2. How much they push for independence.
As frustrating as it can be, your child pushing boundaries and asserting their independence is a great sign. Your two year old should have their own opinions, should tell you “no,” often, and stick to their guns about what they want – even when it’s not what you want.
They should also be able to follow directions, of course, and to point to things you ask them to, as well as mimic your words.
If your kid isn’t using two-word sentences, or if they’re disregarding you and what you’re asking them all the time, cognitive delays could be at play. Go with your gut.
If you and your pediatrician decide it’s run-of-the-mill defiance, don’t bother punishing them – it’s developmentally appropriate, so just remain firm and guide them through it.
The first of many battles to come.
Good luck with your two-year-old bubs, y’all. I’m hoping potty training is coming down the pike sometime after his birthday – finger’s crossed!