Social & Emotional Development

Do you feel as though your whole world revolves around your toddler? So do they! At this stage, your little one has realised that they are a person separate from you. They want to explore, as long as it’s not too far from that safe place they call “Mom”.

Gaining Independence
Little body rigid, face scrunched up in temper…“I DO IT!” they yell. Sound familiar? It may slow everything down, but allow your toddler to do as much as they can without help. As long as the task is safe and age-appropriate, encouraging your little one to work things out for themselves helps build perseverance and develops a healthy self-esteem.

If your instructions and suggestions are met with a strident “no”, be patient – it’s your toddler’s way of asserting their independence. Set limits if need be, always explaining your reasons. You don’t want to break your little one’s spirit but you do want to keep them safe and foster cooperation.

Encourage your toddler to take part in simple household chores, from folding laundry to sweeping the kitchen floor. This makes them feel “grown-up” and encourages a sense of responsibility. Engaging in pretend play such as “cooking” lets them imitate what they see and starts the process of learning necessary life skills.

Stranger Anxiety
Despite this new-found independence, your little one will still be wary of people and situations that aren’t familiar. Be sensitive to their anxiety and introduce them to a new caregiver or playschool slowly, making sure you’re within reach if your toddler needs to “touch base” with you for reassurance before venturing out alone. By 24 months your toddler will be more comfortable spending time with other people.

Emotional and Social Development
At this age, toddlers start to see the connection between their own feelings and behaviour and those of other people. This is the foundation for interacting with others and building friendships.

Encourage your little one to express and name their feelings. Show them pictures of faces and ask them which one feels the same way they do. When they put words to their emotions, it’s easier for them to recognize and regulate their feelings, as well as interpret the emotions of others.

Your toddler needs to know that it’s okay to be unhappy sometimes — it’s simply part of life. Overreacting to their distress may send the message that it’s wrong to feel upset. At this stage your little one will naturally try to comfort you when they sense that you’re troubled, so don’t think that you have to hide your own emotions. Letting your child “hug you better” encourages empathy for others.

Although your toddler may only say a few words, they understand far more than you realise. Encourage your little one to chatter away – it sets the scene for good communication throughout their lives.