Children communicate from the day they are born. They let us know their needs through cries, their wants through coos, and their excitement through squeals. They communicate with their voices, their bodies, and definitely through their emotions.
At the age of one year a parent or caregiver can recognize various signs of their child’s wants or needs. Toddlers might point to what they want or even start to speak words. “More” is often one of the first words a child learns; If they don’t like something they will adamantly shake their head and anyone’s heart will melt with the big smile they will give when they are happy!
A two year old brings on a new challenge in communication. They very much know what they want but struggle with their words. While their vocabulary is still developing they are sometimes not sure how to tell someone what they like or don’t like. The “someone” might be a caregiver, a sibling, or even a playmate. Therefore, while not appreciated, it is very much age-appropriate for a two year old to bite. They are coming out of the oral fixation stage but they naturally gravitate towards the mouth. It is their comfort zone in the form of a pacifier or thumb, their zone of need with all of those endless snacks they request, and their outlet of frustration when a friend takes their toy or comes too close to their personal space. They often react by biting.
Around the age of three years old a child is becoming more aware of his body. He learns that his feet will take him from a walk to a run. He comprehends that when certain actions happen such as falling or bumping his knee –it hurts. And he learns that if he doesn’t like that his friend has just jumped in front of his next turn on the slide –his hands can push to express his frustration. In the same instance in which a two year old bites – a three year old graduates to pushing. They are not meaning harm by their actions as they don’t fully understand someone else’s emotions, but they seek the results as it relates to them. They are still in the “all about me” stage so by pushing a friend away they immediately get the next turn on the slide and the gratification is instant.
Four year olds finally leave the physical stage of communication and learn that words truly can yield results! They express themselves more candidly through description of past and present and can answer questions appropriately. They respond to words of praise – “You did a great job!”! They also respond to words that hurt. A four year old will tell a classmate, “You’re not coming to my birthday party” even if the child’s birthday is seven months away. More mature than their three year old self they now can comprehend their friend’s “hurt feelings” and know that saying a few simple words will result in a reaction. The wonderful thing is they don’t carry grudges thus they are often playing together 45 seconds after the birthday un-invite!
Whether through full on sentences or simple squeals children learn to communicate so their voices are heard. Assistance (and patience!) is often needed on the part of a caregiver to manage these various stages of development. But just knowing that it’s so much more than words can make the transitions much easier!
Tour our Child Care Facility
At Children’s Campus, our 5-star child care program is geared towards your child’s learning and development. We have three preschools in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Greenville. All locations are now enrolling so schedule a tour of our child care center today!