Child Psychology: Social and Emotional Milestones and Red Flags in 2 Year Olds


There are social and emotional milestones that parents should expect their children to reach as they grow up and take many years to develop. Social and emotional skills involve the ability to interact with other people and to understand and control one's emotions. Developing healthy social and emotional skills is crucial for learning how to communicate effectively and efficiently. By making mental notes of when your child has reached important social and emotional milestones and if they show any red flags, you can nip development problems in the bud. 

Social and Emotional Milestones to Expect

By the time children have reached 2 years of age, they should have been exposed to situations where they have been required to spend a significant amount of time socializing with a wide range of different people. As a result, by the age of 2, most children will have developed a sense of self-awareness. You should expect your children to

  • initiate play activities with other children. You should be regularly taking your children on playdates at this time or to the playground where they can interact with other children. This is also a good time to enrol your children in daycare centers.
  • become more independent. While your children may have clung onto you in the past, expect them to begin to venture out on their own. They should become more independent at this stage of their life, especially when it comes to playtime. This is a sign that your children are becoming more independent and self-aware of their own actions. At the same time, your children will also become more self-assertive.
  • express negative emotions, including anger and frustration. The terrible twos is a not a misnomer and is actually something to be expected. At this age, your children should begin to throw temper tantrums or show signs of anger and frustration. 
  • recognize their reflection in the mirror. This is a sign of self-awareness.
  • start trying to help out. This may include completing chores or helping others. Your children should flourish under a sense of accomplishment. 

Red Flags to Look Out For

By keeping a close look out on your child, you will be able to easily pick out red flags that there are developmental problems present. Speak with a child psychologist if you notice any of the following red flags with your children: 

  • an inability to initiate play with other children, and act extremely passive in general.
  • a lack of desire in imitating adult activities.
  • inability to stay focused. This is especially a problem if your children have an inability to stay focused on one activity only and tend to move from one activity to another.
  • being extremely rigid about their own schedules, and have very little tolerance for any unexpected changes.

Tips for Encouraging Healthy Social and Emotional Growth

Just like all skills, emotional and social skills need to be developed and nourished. As a parent, you can help encourage the acquisition of these skills in your children by

  • being responsive and consistent. It is important that your children trust you and depend on you. Stay consistent and always be responsive to their needs. Make sure to provide consistent rules and disciplines.
  • making sure that your children are exposed to social interactions with other children of all age groups.
  • encouraging your children to express their emotions in a safe and comfortable manner. Make sure that their emotions are expressed in appropriate ways. In short, nip those temper tantrums in the bud. Make it clear that actions like yelling and hitting are unacceptable, and encourage them to speak about their emotions and find constructive ways of solving the problems that they have.
  • providing your children with choices.


By making sure that your children develop social and emotional skills early on, you will help them learn how to communicate in more efficient and effective mannerisms in the future. They will have an easier time trying to convey how they feel and what they want and will also be able to develop more genuine and affectionate relationships with others. For more information, contact a business such as The ACT Centre.


6 April 2015

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