Your toddler is starting to become more independent now…

Your child is now an active 31 month old who is curious about everything and demanding both attention and independence. Below are some of the milestones the average 31 month old toddler should be experiencing around this time.

Language development

At this time your child is beginning to distinguish between conversational styles. They will mimic the tone and speech patterns of the person to whom they are speaking. For example, if they are talking to a child of the same age, they will use simpler language, while when they converse with an adult, they may use more complex phrases. They are also starting to use adjectives as they are becoming more expressive in their speech and are able to distinguish between verb tenses in most cases. They can comprehend far more than they can vocalize and this may cause frustration and result in temper tantrums. Just be patient as they are struggling to express themselves.

Your child’s speech will about 75% understandable to someone who is not familiar with their speech patterns at this point. They can now refer to their friend’s by their first names. They may start to “fib” at this point, as there is still a blur between reality and fantasy. You should patiently clarify truth from fiction and gently explain that lying is not acceptable. Again, they will be extremely repetitive at this tender age, so remember to watch what you say in front of your child as you never know where and when they will choose to repeat something they may have heard.

Their vocabulary should be around an average of 400 words at 31 months of age. They will be able to speak in 5 word sentences and recite full nursery rhymes, songs and finger plays. This is a good time to teach them more about manners as they are becoming more social every day.


Social and emotional development

Toddlers playingAround 31 months of age your toddler will begin to understand and respond to the feelings and actions of other children. They will strive to become more independent, but will initially fear new situations and experiences. They will start to feel more at ease with new people with whom they feel comfortable. They are constantly seeking approval and wish to be praised when they do something right. It is important to praise your child at this stage as this reinforces positive behavior and builds healthy self-esteem.

Your child is now developing a strong sense of self as s/he is becoming more aware of his/her likes and dislikes, unique personality traits, and strengths and weaknesses. They will begin to be assertive and like to “take charge.” It is important to discuss limits with your toddler so they do not become “bossy” or overly aggressive as they will display frustration easily when things do not go their way. They are beginning to understand adult rules and regulations and have difficulty comprehending that other children may have different rules than they do, so this may cause some feelings of frustration. It is important to let them know who is in charge at this stage.

Physical development

Gross motor skills

At 31 months old, your child should be able to throw a ball overhand and balance on each foot for at least a second as well as walk a few steps on a balance beam, putting one foot in front of the other. They should be able to hop at least twice on each foot. They will begin to take place in group play and activities such as running, galloping, skipping, spinning, and rolling. They will start to participate in group games such as the “Hokey Pokey”, “Farmer in the Dell” and “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”

They should be able to put on their shoes by themselves, but not tie them at this time. They may show interest in cooking skills and will want to help you around the house. You should allow them to perform simple household tasks with supervision.

Your child will begin to enjoy climbing and exploring the world around them. They should be able to master pedaling and steering a tricycle. It is important to encourage physical play at this point as your child is a bundle of energy.

Fine Motor Skills

At 31 months, your toddler should be able to dress themselves completely with supervision if help is needed. They should have mastered the art of eating independently.

Your child should be able to cut a straight line with scissors and use crayons, pencils and markers properly. They should be able to make strokes with a paintbrush and “scribble” their name (or at least what they ‘think’ is their name). They may be able to trace letters and patterns at this point. They should be able to draw horizontal lines without any help.

Your toddler will be “experimenting” more with Playdough, they should be able to roll the Playdough into the form of a snake. They should also be able to complete large, simple puzzles without assistance.

Cognitive Development

By this time, your child should be able to recognize changes in nature and weather. They should also be able to better comprehend certain concepts of time such as nap time, dinner time, bedtime, etc. They will begin to understand and use prepositions and answer who, what, where and why questions. They should be able to recognize their letters and numbers and name up to ten simple objects on flash cards. They will also have a better understand of pronouns and begin to make gender distinctions.

Most toddlers at this point are starting to think and plan before actions. It may result in a lot of trial and error, and some frustration, but this is part of the learning process. As always, be patient, but firm, and support and loving. Always encourage your child and remember, positive reinforcement goes a long way.

Check on your next months toddler / child development, milestones & stages

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