By O. M. Woodward, I. R. Maxwell and F. H. Pedley (Auth.)
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Additional resources for The Earliest Years. The Growth and Development of Children Under Five
In his social development the child is still very egocentric. He is the centre of his world in his own mind. What he does, he thinks is right, and what he says is right, and he is distressed when his mother shows disapproval of him, though this at times is necessary. To his way of thinking he has the first right to any toy, the first right to any food. It is quite wrong to expect any child of this age to be unselfish, though we may encourage him in elementary ways to begin to think of others. One of the first words he learns and uses constantly is " mine ".
Besides acquiring the actual ability to get around by walking, the child is developing physically in other ways. At first his walk has been a staggering, stumbling, top-heavy effort, needing outstretched arms to achieve balance, but as he practises the new skill he acquires greater control over the co-ordination of muscles. A child of three does not usually walk in a steady, regular manner ; he walks a little, runs a little, sits down or squats. He still helps his balance by having his feet apart and his knees slightly bent.
He may play with them only for very short intervals, but he will play alongside them and so get used to having other children around. Children under three usually prefer to play alone, but they show interest in what other children are doing and make occasional contacts with them, although quite often these first contacts may be aggressive ones. The small two-year-old may hit another child if that child has a toy that he wants, or if he has not met another child before, he may hit him simply in order to experiment, to see what happens.