2–2.5 years old: Social development

2–2.5 years old: Social development

Your toddler’s social development at 25–30 months. Follow your toddler’s milestones step-by-step.

Social development allows children to build harmonious, positive relationships with others. As kids develop socially, they learn how to communicate and manage their emotions, consider other points of view before acting, resolve conflicts, cooperate, and participate in society. A child’s temperament, primarily determined by genetics, influences how they interact with others from an early age. However, they continue to develop social skills as they grow, learning from personal experiences and the people around them—namely, their parents and family members.

Social development: 2–2.5 years old

At this age:

Remember that not all children develop the same skills at the same speed. The material on this website is for general information purposes only. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, speak with a doctor.
  • Your toddler understands that they’re a separate individual.
  • They often refuse to do what you ask, say “no,” and want to make their own decisions.
  • They want to be more autonomous and may refuse your help while getting dressed, for example.
  • They’re shy and sometimes aggressive around strangers and in unfamiliar places.
  • Your toddler enjoys the company of other children but will often get into fights if they play with them.
  • They have difficulty expressing certain emotions, like anger and frustration, and may become aggressive (e.g., hit, bite, pull hair) if they get upset.
  • They’re becoming aware of the differences between boys and girls.

Over the next few months, your toddler will begin to do the following:

  • Express their needs and emotions more easily as their language skills improve.
  • Help put away their toys.
  • Become less possessive and more comfortable sharing their belongings.
  • Approach new people after seeing you talk to them.
  • Play with other children without conflict.
  • Gradually become more patient.
  • Categorize their own gender and the gender of others.
Find out how to support your child’s social development through books. (In French)

How can you help your toddler progress?

Each child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your toddler’s development by adopting the Comfort, Play, and Teach parenting approach, which can easily be integrated into your daily routine. The table below outlines small, age-specific actions you can take that will benefit your toddler’s social development.

When you congratulate your toddler for making efforts and encourage their good behaviour,
they feel noticed, and their self-esteem grows.
When you give your toddler the opportunity to be autonomous,
they get to assert themselves while knowing that they can count on you for help.
When you read your toddler stories about caring for others,
they slowly learn to empathize and get along with others.
When you take your toddler to the park and let them play in the sandbox with other kids,
they realize that interacting with children their own age can be fun.
When you invite another child over for a play date,
your toddler learns to socialize and have fun with someone other than their parent.
When you encourage your toddler to play with their dolls and take care of them,
they learn how to take care of others.
When you do a calm activity with your toddler, like read them a bedtime story,
they feel appreciated because you’ve made time for them.
When you explain how your toddler’s actions affect others,
they learn how to have positive interactions with other children and resolve conflicts.
When you ask your toddler to help you cook—for instance, by adding ingredients to the bowl—
they learn how to socialize and have fun while staying calm.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Annie Goulet, psychologist
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: March 2020


Photo: GettyImages/AleksandarNakic



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  • Ferland, Francine. Et si on jouait? : Le jeu au coeur du développement de l’enfant. 3rd ed., Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2018, 240 pp.
  • Ferland, Francine. Le développement de l’enfant au quotidien : de 0 à 6 ans. 2nd ed., Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2018, 264 pp.
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  • Canadian Paediatric Society. Caring for Kids. “Your child’s development: What to expect.” www.caringforkids.cps.ca
  • Université de Montréal. “Portail enfance et familles : Les étapes de développement de l’enfant de la naissance à l’adolescence.” www.portailenfance.ca