Social-emotional development from 2 to 3 years old

Little one is busy at this time working out who they are. They are learning their own name and may realise they are a boy or a girl.

As the brain continues to grow, little one is getting to know about rules but still may be unable to resist breaking them.

This part of the brain is still not quite in control of the emotional, impulsive brain areas.

Give your little one the words to describe how they are feeling because:

  • naming feelings helps calm their emotional brain
  • they will learn to link words with feelings and behaviours so they can gain more control.

Talk to little one about what the rules are, when to use them and how to choose a different action because:

  • it wires up the brain to help them control their impulsive emotions and reactions
  • little one will learn to understand and follow rules.

Encourage them to play with other children while you watch because:

  • it gives them a chance to learn how to get along with peers
  • little one still needs to feel attached to the parents/carers while they explore.
Published — 25 March 2019 Last updated — 05 September 2019

More like this

Want personalised tips and activities?

Complete these short questions to get personalised tips and activities to see how simple and easy it can be.

Get started
01 / 05

What is your relationship with the child?


What best describes your location?


If you had a spare moment, what would you most likely do with the child?


And finally…

Do you speak another language at home apart from English?
Are you of Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander descent?
Does the child need additional support with their development or learning?
Now we know a little more about the content that might interest you we’ve compiled it into a handy page for you.