Friday, May 3, 2013

The Social Patterns of a Two-Year Old

  While I was studying child development, I was fascinated by the research of Arnold Gesell, so I was excited when I discovered that the Gesell Institute of Human Development has a series of books that describe your child year by year. When Q-ball turned one, I posted one of my favorite bits from the book here, and at 18 months, I shared Gesell's theory of disequilbrium. (If you're still following links, here's my overview of Gesell's research.) As I just completed, Your Two-Year-Old, I wanted to again share my favorite figure what that book. 
   Using long-term observations, the Gesell Institute determined that at two-years-old, a child is much more likely to talk to adults than to other children.  In these interactions, the two-year-old will likely use two or three word phrases rather than single-word sentences. However, the youngster is still certainly controlling the conversation- choosing to not always answer when the adult addresses him or just repeating the adult's original comment.  If a two-year-old does speak to someone else his age, the conversation is typically an attempt to maintain control over his space or stuff- "no, mine!" or "me want ball."  While his verbalization is increasing overall, this is the last year of life that a child is more likely to say "no" through motor behavior rather than verbally.  When given a request that he simply does not wish to follow, he may just walk away, look away, or continue to play. 
   All this being said, the two-year-old's favorite person to talk to is himself!  This makes sense given that these little ones are still firmly in their egocentric phase.  This self-talk is often easily observed during independent play, especially imaginary play.  At times, this self-talk may move towards an adult when the child wants to brag about all of his accomplishments- cleaning up by himself, feeding his own bear, or using the toilet alone. 

What's your two-year-old talking about?


  1. Very interesting! I definitely see that Annabelle is more likely to talk with adults than with other children, and that her conversations with adults are much more involved.

  2. I certainly thought this was true of Q's behavior as well. I wondered what the reason was and can only conclude it's because adults are likely to give more of a response than another egocentric toddler!


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