Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

The importance of amniotic fluid Amniotic fluid is essential for pregnancy and foetal development. Amniotic fluid is a watery substances residing inside a casing called the amniotic membrane or sac. ...

Choosing a pre-school

Becoming a parent is a momentous; life-changing event filled with hopes, expectations and naturally some fears. Parents often learn and grow alongside their children, as they face the challenges of pa...

Newborn reflexes

Although newborn babies are physically helpless and vulnerable at birth, they have a number of amazing innate abilities or reflexes. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions, designed to protect ...

Mastitis

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can lead to infection. The word “mastitis” is derived from the Greek word “mastos” meaning “breasts”, while the suffix “-itis” denotes “inflammation”. Ma...

Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...

Colic

Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...

Strap-in-the-Future

The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

Growth & Development

Even though physical growth has slowed down dramatically in the last year and will remain slow during this third year, there is still a remarkable transformation happening in your child’s physical appearance. The baby is becoming a child; this is most noticeable in the proportions of his body. As a baby, he had a relatively large head and short legs and arms; now his head growth will slow, from 2 cm in his second year alone to 2–3 cm over the next 10 years. At the same time, his height will increase (an average of 6 cm) primarily because his legs and, to some degree, the rest of his body will be growing quickly. He may also only gain about 2 kg in weight. With these changes in the rates of growth, his body and legs will look much more in proportion. Due to improved muscle tone and loss of baby fat, he will develop a leaner, stronger appearance. Even the pads of fat under the arches, which have until now given the appearance of flat feet, will disappear.

 

Movement and coordination 

Your child will seem to be continually on the go – running, kicking, climbing, jumping. His running will become smoother and more coordinated. He’ll also learn to kick and direct the motion of a ball, walk up and down steps by himself while holding on, and seat himself confidently in a child-size chair. With a little help, he’ll even be able to stand on one leg.

 

He is also able to focus on more than just moving, he can use his hands, talk and look around too. This does take a great deal of concentration, so his attention span is not too long and he will seemingly rush from one activity to the next. This is part of strengthening his body and improving his coordination. He will become more adept at manoeuvring his body, turning corners and walking backwards. Don’t worry about finding activities that will help your child develop his motor skills. He’ll probably be able to do that himself. When you are able to join in the fun, bear in mind that children this age love piggyback rides, rolling around, and climbing up and going down small slides. The more running and climbing your games involve, the better.

 

But be aware that since his self-control and judgement lag considerably behind his motor skills, you must remain vigilant and keep safety and injury prevention high on your priority list at all times.

 

Fine motor/hand and finger skills

Manipulating small objects comes easily now. He can also coordinate the movement of his fingers, palm and wrist to unscrew a lid, turn a handle, open a sweet wrapper. The biggest achievement will be learning to draw – he will be able to hold a pencil somewhat clumsily, but with enough control to execute his first masterpiece.

 

Quiet activities become calmer now as he has a longer attention span for looking at a book, or building a tower of blocks, even doing a few simple jigsaw puzzles.

 

Vision

This continues to develop, with distance, depth of field and peripheral continuously maturing. Full 20/20 vision is reached between the age of 7 and 9. If there are any concerns about your child’s vision this is now the age when he can be formally tested. Most 3-year-olds are able to follow directions and then describe what they see, giving far more reliable results.

 

Language development

Between 2 and 3 years your child’s vocabulary continues to expand rapidly, exceeding 50 words. He is also able to put them together into sentences of 4 or 5 words using pronouns and grasping the concept of ‘mine’.

 

Without any formal instruction, just by listening and practising, many of the basic rules of grammar will be understood, and used, by your child before he starts school. Help him improve his language skills by responding when he talks to you and by repeating what he said with the correct grammar. Reading short, interactive books will be of great benefit to him.

 

Some children are more talkative than others and appear to advance more rapidly with their language skills. The quieter child does not have less of a skill, he might just be choosing his word more carefully and then say something very profound. There can however be a developmental problem with language as well, due to a hearing problem, or lack of stimulation or low intelligence, but occasionally the cause remains unknown. An assessment by a speech therapist might be necessary. Early intervention is crucial to prevent long-term learning difficulties.

 

Cognitive development

Think back to your child’s infancy and early toddler months. That was a time when he learned about the world by touching, looking, manipulating, and listening. Now, as a 2-year-old, the learning process has become more thoughtful. His grasp of language is increasing, and he’s beginning to form mental images for things, actions, and concepts. He can also solve some problems in his head, performing mental trial-and-error instead of having to manipulate objects physically. And as his memory and intellectual abilities develop, he’ll begin to understand simple time concepts, such as ‘You can play after you finish eating.’

 

Your toddler is also starting to understand the relationship between objects. For instance, he’ll be able to match similar shapes when you give him shape-sorting toys and simple jigsaw puzzles. He’ll also begin to recognise the purpose of numbers in counting objects – especially the number 2. And as his understanding of cause and effect develops, he’ll become much more interested in winding up toys and turning lights and appliances on and off.

 

You’ll also notice your toddler’s play growing more complex. Most noticeably, he’ll start stringing together different activities to create a logical sequence. Instead of drifting randomly from one toy to another, he may first put a doll to bed and then cover it up. Or he may pretend to feed several dolls, one after the other. Over the next few years, he’ll put together longer and more elaborate sequences of make-believe, acting out much of his own daily routine, from getting up in the morning to taking a bath and going to bed at night.

 

If we were to single out the major intellectual limitation at this age, it would be your child’s feeling that everything that happens in his world is the result of something he has done. With a belief like this, it becomes very difficult for him to understand correctly such concepts as death, divorce, or illness, without feeling that he played some role in it. So if parents separate or a family member gets sick, children often feel responsible.

 

Reasoning with your 2-year-old is often difficult. After all, he views everything in extremely simple terms. He still often confuses fantasy with reality unless he’s actively playing make-believe. Therefore, during this stage, be sure to choose your own words carefully: comments that you think are funny or playful – such as ‘If you eat more cereal, you’ll explode’ – actually may panic him, since he won’t know you’re joking.

 

Emotional development 

It’s so difficult to follow the ups and downs of a 2-year-old. One moment he’s beaming and friendly; the next he’s sullen and weepy, and often for no apparent reason. These mood swings, however, are just part of growing up. They are signs of the emotional changes taking place as your child struggles to take control of actions, impulses, feelings, and his body.

 

At this age, your child wants to explore the world and seek adventure. As a result, he’ll spend most of his time testing limits – his own, yours, and his environment’s. Unfortunately, he still lacks many of the skills required for the safe accomplishment of everything he needs to do, and he often will need you to protect him.

 

When he oversteps a limit and is pulled back, he often reacts with anger and frustration, possibly with a temper tantrum or sullen rage. He may even strike back by hitting, biting, or kicking. At this age, he just doesn’t have much control over his emotional impulses, so his anger and frustration tend to erupt suddenly in the form of crying, hitting, or screaming. It’s his only way of dealing with the difficult realities of life. He may even act out in ways that unintentionally harm himself or others. It’s all part of being 2.

 

Have child minders or relatives ever told you that your child never behaves badly when they’re caring for him? It’s not uncommon for toddlers to be angels when you’re not around, because they don’t trust these other people enough to test their limits. But with you, your toddler will be willing to try things that may be dangerous or difficult, because he knows you’ll rescue him if he gets into trouble.

 

Whatever protest pattern he has developed around the end of his first year probably will persist for some time. For instance, when you’re about to leave him with a babysitter, he may become angry and throw a tantrum in anticipation of the separation. Or he may whimper, or whine and cling to you. Or he could simply become subdued and silent. Whatever his behaviour, try not to overreact by scolding or punishing him. The best tactic is to reassure him before you leave that you will be back and, when you return, to praise him for being so patient while you were gone. Take solace in the fact that separations should be much easier by the time he’s 3 years old.

 

The more confident and secure your 2-year-old feels, the more independent and well behaved he’s likely to be. You can help him develop these positive feelings by encouraging him to behave more maturely. To do this, consistently set reasonable limits that allow him to explore and exercise his curiosity, but draw the line at dangerous or antisocial behaviour. With these guidelines, he’ll begin to sense what’s acceptable and what’s not. To repeat, the key is consistency. Praise him every time he plays well with another child, or whenever he feeds, dresses, or undresses himself without your help, or when you help him to start with the activity and he completes it by himself. As you do, he’ll start to feel good about these accomplishments and himself. With his self-esteem on the rise, he’ll also develop an image of himself as someone who behaves a certain way – the way that you have encouraged – and negative behaviour will fade.

 

Social development

By nature, children this age can be more concerned about their own needs and even act selfishly. Often they refuse to share anything that interests them, and they do not easily interact with other children, even when playing side by side, unless it’s to let a playmate know that they would like a toy or object for themselves. There may be times when your child’s behaviour may make you upset, but if you take a close look, you’ll notice that all the other toddlers in the playgroup are probably acting the same way.

 

At age 2, children view the world almost exclusively through their own needs and desires. Because they can’t yet understand how others might feel in the same situation, they assume that everyone thinks and feels exactly as they do. And on those occasions when they realise they’re out of line, they may not be able to control themselves. For these reasons, it’s useless to try to shape your child’s behaviour using statements such as ‘How would you like it if she did that to you?’ Save these comments until your child is older; then he’ll be able to really understand how other people think and feel and be capable of responding to such reasoning.

 

Because your 2-year-old’s behaviour seems only self-directed, you also may find yourself worrying that he’s spoiled or out of control. In all likelihood, your fears are unfounded, and he’ll pass through this phase in time. Highly active, aggressive children who push and shove usually are just as ‘normal’ as quiet, shy ones who never seem to act out their thoughts and feelings.

 

Ironically, despite your child’s being mostly interested in himself, much of his playtime will be spent imitating other people’s mannerisms and activities. Imitation and ‘pretend’ are favourite games at this age. So as your 2-year-old puts his teddy to bed or feeds his animals, you may hear him use exactly the same words and tone of voice you use when telling him to go to sleep or eat his vegetables. No matter how he resists your instructions at other times, when he moves over into the parent role, he imitates you exactly. These play activities help him learn what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes, and they serve as valuable rehearsals for future social encounters. They’ll also help you appreciate the importance of being a good role model, by demonstrating that children often do as we do, not as we say.

 

The best way for your 2-year-old to learn how to behave around other people is to be given plenty opportunity to interact with other children. You could enrol him in a small playgroup, take him to an organised activity or have a few play dates at home.  It may be a bit awkward at first and you may have to intervene initially to stop inappropriate behaviour. However, you should allow the children to guide themselves as much as possible, so that they learn how to play with one another.