Typical Child Behavior of Two Year Olds

Though each child develops at a slightly different rate, most children hit certain developmental milestones by the age of two. By comparing the behavior of your two-year-old child with common two-year-old behavior cited by child development experts, you can begin to understand whether your child's development remains on track 2. Consult your child's physician if you suspect that your child's development lags behind in a particular area.

Physical Behavior

According to the Child Development Institute, children just turning two can run, kick balls and build short towers with blocks 1. Between the ages of two and three, children begin to explore a wider range of physical activity, including jumping off of steps, riding tricycles and building larger towers.

Verbal Skills

Most two-year-olds have a vocabulary of 200 words or more. Between the ages of two and three, children learn new words each day. According to the Child Development Institute, two-year-olds typically use short sentences, and can use the pronouns "I," "me" and "you." Two-year-olds might not have completely intelligible pronunciation, according to PBS Parents 12. Some two-year-olds might experience some stuttering problems. Two-year-olds use language to explore the world around them, often asking "why," "what" and "how" questions. Children can typically follow simple directions at this age. According to PBS Parents, two-year-olds can usually understand basic concepts of time and chronology, and can use words such as yesterday and tomorrow.

Social Interactions

Many two-year-olds experience unpredictable emotions, including some anger and other violent emotions. Many two-year-olds throw temper tantrums, according to the Child Development Institute 12. Children at this age might resist their parents’ demands or even give their own orders to those around them. At this age, children can manipulate their own facial expressions to show anger, happiness, sadness and other emotions, and they can recognize the meaning of these facial expressions in others. The Child Development Institute also points out that many children begin to develop a sense of humor at this age, often playing tricks on those around them 1. Children might show clingy or possessive tendencies at this age, and might demonstrate a fear of abandonment. Two-year-olds enjoy playing alongside other children their own age, but do not yet directly engage in activities with other children. According to PBS parents, two-year-olds begin to play a variety of pretend games, acting out experiences and stories with objects around them. Children might relate these stories to those around them.


Though two-year-olds cannot yet recognize words or letters, they may pretend to read as they flip through books. Most two-year-olds can sing the ABCs, but do not yet understand that letters represent specific sounds, according to PBS parents. Some two-year-olds might scribble in an attempt to write certain familiar letters, such as the first letter in their own name.

Eating and Sleeping

According to the Child Development Institute, most two-year-olds sleep for about 12 hours each night, and take a one- or two-hour nap each day 1. Two-year-olds often begin to feed themselves with some independence, drinking from cups rather than bottles and using spoons with relative ease.