Your child's behaviour

Preschoolers are increasingly aware and independent, but it’s good to remember that every child is different. So much growing happens in the three years between 2 and 5, and many things about children aged between 1 and 2 are still relevant. The guide below shows how your preschooler might behave.

From 2 years old your child might:

  • be capable, talkative and exciting
  • take command of their bodies and worlds
  • walk and talk and, with time, even start to explain e.g tell you just where it hurts and how found out
  • become humourous e.g. watch as they have a surprise go at making their own breakfast
  • become exposed to new relationships which may be quite bumpy at first
  • make plenty of mistakes, get frustrated and sometimes seem naughty
  • need to learn to share time, love, attention and toys
  • be competitive and you might have to manage rivalry. They may compete for attention and worry about who’s best at things (this included sibling rivalry)
  • seem demanding at times, asking lots of questions
  • be curious, which can be tiring but this is how children learn.

It’s nice to recognise that your child’s increasing independence is yours too. The more they can do, the more you can do, together and apart. Before you know it, they’ll be blowing out five candles. Prepare to just say, “well done” even if you secretly wish to correct what they say or do.


While your child may continue to test your limits and have tantrums, they’ll gradually gain skills to express themselves in better ways. All the things we talked about to do with temper tantrums and ways to help still apply, but may need to add a few things as your child grows and their world expands beyond you. This takes them into situations where they have to learn more complicated skills, like sharing and negotiating. They may need more information from you as they develop greater understanding. And remember, sometimes when children misbehave it’s because they need more attention from you, not less.

Try not to compare

As your child grows, you might find yourself becoming more aware of how they behave or what they can do compared to other children. While that’s normal and can even be useful (you’re keeping an eye on their development), mostly it works best if your family/whānau can just enjoy and celebrate each other for who you all are.

We all have different personalities and abilities, including siblings. Everyone needs time and space to grow in their own time and way. That doesn’t mean ignoring children’s needs though. If you do have concerns, you can contact Plunket staff or another health provider.

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