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Your 2-year-old now
"One, two, three!" An ability to count begins as your child heads toward 3, at least in a primitive way. First a child is able to identify when there is one, and more than one (though not whether it's two or six). By age 2, a child can count to two ("one, two"), and by 3, he can count to three, but if he can make it all the way up to 10, he's probably reciting from rote memory. Kids this age don't yet actually understand, and can't identify, the quantities they're naming.
The best way to set your child up for later math skills is not to coach him in counting and adding but to weave numerical references into his day. Reading lots of books helps develop pre-reading, the understanding that certain symbols on the page stand for something else. (Identifying the golden arches that form an "M" on a hamburger restaurant as "McDonald's" is an example of pre-reading.) Count steps when you walk or blocks as you play. Provide puzzles whose pieces are in different shapes (circle, square, triangle); identifying these shapes is another kind of pre-reading.
Your life now
Of course you love your little one more than ever — so what's up when she shuns your hugs and kisses? Sometimes very active preschoolers simply don't like to sit still, not even for cuddles, unless they're very tired. For others, spurning a snuggle is a way of separating. Think of it as another version of "You're not the boss of me!" Don't feel rejected — and don't force the matter. When your tot needs comforting, she'll still come running to you. Meantime you can also go running to her in a silly kiss-resister "chase" game that ends in a loving bear hug.
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