The 2 1/2-year-old is delightful, often funny, and fun to be around.
Language. She's discovering the power of words and has begun commenting on things in her environment just for the joy of sharing and talking. Encourage these conversations, and give her lots of help when she gets stuck on words she's still struggling to get out. At this age she can form sentences two or three words long and can follow two-step requests. Reading, including the association of words with objects and activities, is fun and quite critical at this age.
Imagination. Imagination is growing at this age, so books, stories, and make-believe play are getting more interesting to your child. Children this age play roles and enact scenarios rather than just imitate simple actions with toys. This leap forward of imagination means that new fears, worries, and anxieties may start to pop up. Dreams and nightmares are evidence of the hard work your child is doing to put her exciting world in order. She's likely to be a little more hesitant in new situations than she was a few months ago, but she'll also be more interested in trying out her interactive skills with new people once she is comfortable.
Order. Your child will start to want to put things in order, so tidying up after play will be an easier task, provided you break it into manageable parts: "Pick up all the blocks; now pick up the cars." At this age, praise for good behavior is a strong motivator, so supply it often. She has a fine-tuned antenna for even subtle changes in your responses and moods.
Handy hands. Your child's fine motor skills will surprise you; he'll be able to open, take apart, and put together more things than you thought possible. Crayons, utensils, and combs are some of the tools he'll try to use just the right way.
Determination. Stopping an activity is a very painful experience for your child now. He'll need advance notice of an upcoming transition and some help changing gears. Tantrums at transition times are common now, signaling how much he wants to be his own person, so you'll need to brush up on your time-out techniques. On the upside: Though the blowups may be more dramatic than they were six months ago, they may also be fewer. Keep a steady course, and you'll find your child running for a big hug right after a big storm. Life is an exciting up-and-down adventure at this age!