Stages of Development for Toddlers

Dr. Lynne Hartman


Toddlers grow up fast and start to seek independence when they feel safe. While some toddlers will be outgoing, some may be reserved so it’s important to remember that each child develops on his/her own timeline. As a parent, you can not rush a child to accomplish a milestone. When toddlers feel safe and loved they usually reach the milestone within normal standards (Health Direct, 2019). To support a child through his/her developmental stages, encourage them to explore and try new things. As a parent or nanny, you will see the emotional and intellectual development of your toddler. If you are concerned about the progress your child is making, please contact a pediatrician.


Twelve to Fifteen Months Old

The toddlers are continuing their language development so it’s important to read to them daily. Sit beside the toddler and point to the words you are reading and have the child turn the pages of the book. Identify the pictures and ask questions of the toddlers even if the language is not there to answer all the questions. Also, have the toddler choose the book to read and many times he/ she will pick the same one over and over. The toddler likes to hear the same book over and over because it reinforces the language.

The singing of songs helps with language development and sound patterns (CDC, 2019). It is important to sing songs like “The Wheels on the Bus”, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes”.


As they develop cognitively and emotionally, toddlers may display temper tantrums for a variety of reasons. Usually, the tantrums are a result of frustrations and poor verbal expressions when the child cannot communicate his/her needs (Health Direct Australia, 2019). Dealing with the tantrums can be frustrating to the adult but understanding the cause will assist the child in his/her development. Understand the reason why the child is displaying the temper tantrums is mostly because the child is not able to communicate something to the adult in her environment. Provide the child with the tools she needs to interact in the atmosphere. Several ways to help the child with her tantrums is to reward and praise her on the behaviors that are beneficial to her development (Health Direct Australia, 2019).


Another way is to distract the child with some other activity or to move the child to another environment. When the child is going through the temper tantrum stay calm and don’t get angry or yell at the child. It does not benefit either the child or the adult to get angry and yell it is not helpful since it causes the situation to continue. When a child is having a tantrum, you want to calm the child down by understanding why the child is frustrated or angry in the current situation. Also, after the tantrum hug and reassure the child that they are loved and cared about (Health Direct Australia, 2019).


The child is developing towards independence and another way to help the child is to provide the child with choices and have them make the decision. It can be as easy as asking the child what shirt you want to wear today by laying out a couple of choices for the child. Allowing the child to make simple choices will help them develop decision-making skills.

Sixteen to Twenty-Four Months Old

Toddlers are developing and starting to accomplish more complex skills. They are able to parallel play which means they can sit beside someone and is interested in what the other is doing but does not interact with the other child. Toddlers also begin to understand one-step directions without any cues (CDC, 2019). The toddler is also able to show affection and may cling to the caregiver in new situations or during fearful experiences.


The adult needs to set an environment that is loving and structured and consistent (CDC, 2019). Adults provide safety and security by giving toddlers hugs and kisses when they feel unsafe and attend to their needs when they are crying or asking for your support. Continue to praise the child and reward the child for positive behavior. Provide opportunities for the child to further develop his/her gross motor skills through play. Continue to read to the toddler and ask questions about the pictures in the story and questions about the story.

Twenty-Five to Thirty-Six Months Old

The toddler is developing into a preschooler and in many cities and states, there are programs for late toddlers. At this age, the child is beginning to sort and identify colors and shapes. To support their development, provide opportunities for the child to compare and contrast colors and shapes. As the child is beginning to follow two-step directions, provide opportunities for her to follow them. Also, late toddlers can start to help with simple chores around the house such as sweeping, dusting and helping with dinner and setting the table. Praise her when she helps but be specific such as I like how you placed the dinner plates on the table.


It is better to praise specifically what they accomplished than general praise (i.e. you did a good job when you set the table by putting the plates on the table and cups instead of good job). The more specific your praise the child can understand what they did right that they will try to repeat that positive behavior. When the child is having a poor behavior, you can redirect the child’s attention to something else.


Art is an important element of expression and practices motor skills so provide opportunities for the toddler to draw with crayons and markers. The child usually likes to paint so allow time for the child to do those activities and when they are finished hang the pictures in the immediate environment. Provide opportunities for the toddler to complete simple puzzles and sit with them and have them identify the components.

Caring for toddlers is a lot of fun as they joyfully explore their environment and start to show their personality and preferences. Playtime is the most important learning method at this age while you provide love and support.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Development Disabilities. (2019). CDC’s developmental milestones. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html

Health Direct Australia, Pregnancy Birth & Baby. (2019, June). Development milestones – your child 12 to 18 months. Retrieved from https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/development-milestones-12-to-18-months

The Institute for Human Services for The Ohio Child Welfare Training Program. (2007, October). Developmental Milestones Chart. Retrieved from http://www.rsd.k12.pa.us/Downloads/Development_Chart_for_Booklet.pdf

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