Advice for parents: 2 year olds

A 2 year old boy playing with paints

Five to Thrive

Respond – Cuddle – Relax – Play - Talk

Do these five things each time you interact with your child from the time they are born and you will help to grow a healthy, strong and confident child.

You can also come along and see Five to Thrive come alive at your local Family Hub. Call 0161 788 0385 to find out more.

To find out more about more about each of the Five to Thrive expand the boxes below.


My brain grows better when you respond to me.

My brain works very slowly at first. But when you respond to me in the same way over and over again the connections you are helping to build grow strong. Then they can carry messages between the different parts of my brain more quickly.

Key milestones

  • I can say 'goodbye' to you when I have a grown up I know to help me.
  • I can show you what I want to play with, eat and/or wear.
  • If you tell me what to do, rather than 'no' I am able to do it.
  • I can follow simple routines to help me do things by myself.
  • I can use simple sentences with 3 to 4 words to talk about what I am doing or what is happening.
  • When I am talking with you, I talk about lots of different things – what I am doing, what I like or what I have done.
  • I use objects and gestures to help me explain what I mean when I am talking.
  • I know how far I can climb up the stairs, the slide or the climbing frame on my own before I need to ask you for help.
  • I can put on my hat, unzip my coat and take off my unfastened shoes/boots and cardigan/shirt by myself.
  • I am beginning to be able to wash and dry my hands by myself.
  • I am beginning to be able to sit on a potty or toilet by myself.


My brain grows better when you cuddle me.

Before I was born I was more aware of touch than of any other sense, and I was safely held in a small space. Now I can move freely, but I still feel most safe when I am in contact with a grown up who loves me.

Key milestones

  • I watch what other children are doing before I join in with them.
  • I will go to grown ups I know when I want a cuddle, when I am upset and /or when I am excited.
  • I am beginning to make friends.
  • Sometimes I choose to play with toys I like to stop me from feeling upset.
  • I can drink from a cup with no lid and not spill my drink as I put the cup to my mouth.
  • I can tell you when I need to use the potty or toilet.


My brain grows better when you relax with me.

I know that having a baby is stressful. But if you can find ways to relax when you are with me, you can make a big difference to the way my brain works.

Key milestones

  • I have some favourite rhymes and songs.
  • When you read my favourite stories I can join in with words and phrases that appear over and over again.
  • I can tell you the missing word or phrase in stories and rhymes that I know really well, such as 'Humpty Dumpty sat on a ………'.


My brain grows better when you play with me.

When you play counting games, or singing games or action games, my brain builds connections that help me to make sense of the world around me and to have fun.

As I get older, playing with me and helping me to play on my own or with other children builds connections in my brain that make it possible for me to think and plan, to make sense of the world around me and to develop social skills.

Key milestones

  • I can run without bumping into things or tripping up.
  • I can squat down on my knees to play and can get up without using my hands.
  • I can climb up a ladder on a small slide or climbing frame or onto a sofa or armchair.
  • I can kick a large ball.
  • I can turn the pages in a book. Sometimes I might turn over more than one page at a time.
  • I can hold a small jug and pour my own drink.
  • I can give you the right number of objects from a collection when you say 'please give me one', 'please give me two'.
  • I can draw lines that go across, up and down, round and round and pictures to show numbers and amounts.
  • I can use words like 'more' and 'a lot' to describe amounts of objects.
  • I know that if I add a toy to a collection or some food to my plate I have more and if take something away I don’t have as much.
  • I can point to shapes and patterns in pictures and clothes.
  • I can sort a collection of objects so that ones that are the same shape or size are altogether.


My brain grows better when you talk to me.

When you talk to me I copy you. At first I can only make a few sounds, but the more you talk to me the more I can make sounds into words. I need you to tell me everything right from the start. I know nothing, so everything I learn in my life will be built on what you are teaching me now. Involve me in life by telling me about it.

Key milestones

  • I listen to stories when you make different noises or use different voices as you read to me.
  • I can recognise sounds by finding or going to the thing or place.
  • I join in with singing songs and rhymes.
  • I stop what I am doing, look at you and listen to you when you say my name.
  • When you ask questions like 'Who’s jumping?' or 'Who’s sleeping?' I can point to the right picture to show you that I understand action or 'doing' words.
  • I understand longer instructions or questions such as 'Put the bricks away and then we’ll read a book'.
  • I can use words such as 'big' and 'little' to describe toys, clothes and pictures in a book.
  • I know the order of things that happen every day (such as I get out of bed, I have my breakfast, I get dressed) and can tell you what happens next.

Activities for 2 years old

All the fun activities that you do with your child at home are important in supporting their learning and development and have a long-lasting effect on your child’s learning as they progress through school or nursery or at a childminder.

Personal, social and emotion development

Physical development

Communication and language

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