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Social development is important for children’s overall wellness and learning, but as our children turn from tiny toddlers to preschool playmates, we don’t always know what social skills to expect. Use this quick age-by-age guide to know what developmental milestones look like for the first four years!

1 Wondering One-Year-Olds…

  • Begin simple communication: pointing, vocalizing, smiling
  • Recognize familiar people: acknowledging and reacting to people they know
  • Interact with caregivers: handing toys over, back-and-forth playing

2 Tentative Two-Year-Olds…

  • Engage in parallel play: playing alongside a peer, though not together
  • Defend territory: becoming possessive of space and things, not quite understanding sharing
  • Interact beyond caregivers: showing interest in other people, maybe displaying shyness

3 Free-Thinking Three-Year-Olds…

  • Begin to prefer associative play: seeking out other children to engage with
  • Imagine: express creativity in their socializing and games
  • Start understanding emotions: can begin to name and describe feelings, developing emotional awareness

4 Friendly Four-Year-Olds…

  • Go for group play: will seek out teams or groups based on shared activities and interests
  • Share: taking turns and cooperating with peers
  • Show affection and sympathy: hugging, holding hands, and consoling others
  • Are independent: determination to try things without parent direction or help, building confidence