How your child develops

As well as physically progressing, your child’s brain is also constantly developing. During these early years, children are able to gain valuable skills such as communication, through learning and play. You can help in this development by listening to them, being interested in what they are doing and letting them experiment and work things out for themselves.


By the time toddlers reaches their ‘terrible twos’, they will have developed their walking and climbing skills, and will have started to kick and throw balls. It is also around this time your child will start to become more curious about their surroundings and will want to become more independent. It’s natural for toddlers to put up a fight when you’re trying to dress or feed them – they want to do these things when they feel like it and to try doing it themselves. Setting boundaries for this age and stage can be frustrating and leave you tired, but it’s all part of your child's development and is the way that toddlers learn to become more independent.

Your child's early developments

Different children develop at different ages, there’s no one rule. However, there are different developmental stages that toddlers will go through, and these usually happen at or by certain ages. If you are in any way concerned about your toddlers progression, you should speak to your doctor or health visitor.

Toilet training

You will probably start toilet training between two and three years. By three most children will be dry during the day but still need a nappy at night. If you are worried that your child has not started yet, or is not getting to grips with it, speak to another parent for some tips or you can speak to your health visitor. Every child is different and they will learn in the way that is suited to them. It may be a case of trying different strategies until you find one that works well with your child. 


Dressing will take longer than usual once your toddler decides they want to start doing it themselves. They will start with taking their clothes off rather than putting them on, particularly items that are easy to pull off such as shoes and socks and then probably run away when you try to put them back on! By the age of three if you undo any buttons and zips, they’ll be able to take these clothes off too. It’s between three and four that they start dressing with easily pulled-on items like t-shirts and shorts.


By the age of two your child will have started scribbling on paper (and other places!) with big crayons or chalk. Between two and three these drawings will start to take on a form, with lines and circles and by pre-school age these will probably be put together in the shape of stick-people.

Learning and play

At first your child will want to play alone or with you, but eventually this will be replaced with playing with other children, in groups or pairs, but sharing toys and other items will be a problem until around three years, which is when they become much more willing to wait their turn or allow another child to play with their toys.

Watch our video and look at ways to support your toddler's development, helping them to be more resilient and emotionally aware - playing games and getting out and about for valuable social and learning experiences.

Further support 

To find out more about how you can help your child, visit Top Tips for Tiny Tots. This site gives parents information on how to assist in your toddler’s development, and explains that every experience helps to develop your toddler’s brain. Areas of development are divided into four sections – body, emotions, intelligence and spirit. Each section contains tips on how you can help to strengthen their abilities in these areas:

  • Body - information on how to use the five senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell) to help with everything from coordination through to sleep patterns.
  • Emotions – the importance of using positive language, music and play in your child’s life.
  • Intelligence - offers advice on how your toddler can safely play and explore to increase their learning and prepare for their roles in the real world.
  • Spirit – describes different types of children such as radiant and indigo children, and how to encourage their spiritual development through creativity and talking about their dreams and imaginary friends.


This page was updated in December 2018

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