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Toddlers are children ages 1 through 3.
Jean Piaget, in the cognitive (thought) development theory, includes the following:
- Early use of instruments or tools
- Following visual (then later, invisible) displacement (moving from one place to another) of objects
- Understanding that objects and people are there even if you can't see them (object and people permanence)
Erik H. Erikson's personal-social development theory says the toddler stage represents Autonomy (independence) vs. Shame or Doubt. The child learns to adjust to society's demands, while trying to maintain independence and a sense of self.
These milestones are typical of children in the toddler stages. Some variation is normal. If you have questions about your child's development, contact your health care provider.
The following are signs of expected physical development in a toddler:
- Having gross motor skills (using the large muscles in the body, such as legs and arms)
- Jumping in place by about 24 months
- Kicking ball forward at about 16 to 18 months
- Learning to walk backwards and up steps after 12 to 14 months
- Standing alone well by 12 months
- Stooping over, picking up objects, and standing again
- Walking well by 12 to 14 months
- Learning to walk backward and up steps after 12 to 14 months
- Throwing ball overhand at about 18 to 24 months
FINE MOTOR SKILLS
Evidence of fine motor skills in a 15-month-old includes:
- Beginning to stack blocks
- Placing a block in a cup
Normal toddler language development typically includes:
- Beginning to say his or her own name at 22 to 24 months
- Combining 2 words at 16 to 24 months -- there is a range of ages at which children are first able to combine words into sentences; if a toddler cannot do so by 24 months, parents should consult their pediatrician or family doctor
- Naming pictures of items and animals at 18 to 24 months
- Pointing to named body parts at 18 to 24 months
- Using 2 - 3 words (other than Mama or Dada) at 12 to 15 months
Toddlers are always trying to be more independent. This creates not only special safety concerns, but discipline challenges. The child must be taught -- in a consistent manner -- the limits of appropriate vs. inappropriate behavior.
Frustration and anger frequently erupt in a toddler trying out activities they can't quite do yet. Breath-holding, crying, screaming, and temper tantrums may be daily occurrences.
It is important for a child to learn from experiences and to be able to rely upon consistent boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
Toddler safety is very important.
- It is important for parents to recognize that the child can now walk, run, climb, jump, and explore wherever the environment is unrestricted. This new stage of movement makes child-proofing the home essential. Window guards, gates on stairways, cabinet locks, toilet seat locks, electric outlet covers and other safety features are absolutely essential.
- As during the infancy period, the toddler should be placed in a safety restraint (toddler car seat) when riding in a car.
- Do not leave a toddler unattended for even short periods of time. Remember, more accidents occur during toddler years than at any other stage of childhood.
- Rules about not playing in streets or crossing without adults should be introduced and strictly adhered to.
- Falls are a major cause of injury. Keep gates or doors to stairways closed, and use guards for all windows above the ground floor. Do not leave chairs or ladders in areas that are likely to tempt the toddler into climbing up to explore new heights. Use corner guards on furniture in areas where the toddler is likely to walk, play, or run.
- Childhood poisonings are a frequent source of illness and death during the toddler years. Keep all medications in a locked cabinet. Keep all toxic household products (polishes, acids, cleaning solutions, chlorine bleach, lighter fluid, insecticides, or poisons) in a locked cabinet or closet. Many household plants may cause illness if ingested, and toad stools and other garden plants may cause serious illness or death. Obtain a list of these common plants from your pediatrician.
- If a family member owns a firearm, make sure it is unloaded and locked up in a secure place.
- Toddlers should be kept away from the kitchen with a safety gate, or placed in a playpen or high chair. This will eliminate the danger of burns from pulling hot foods off the stove or bumping into the hot oven door.
- Toddlers love to play in water, but should never be allowed to do so alone. A toddler may drown even in shallow water in a bathtub. Parent-child swimming lessons can be another safe and enjoyable way for toddlers to play in water. Never leave a child unattended near a pool, open toilet, or bathtub. Toddlers cannot learn how to swim and cannot be independent near any body of water.
Rachel A. Lewis, MD, FAAP, Columbia University Pediatric Faculty Practice, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
- The toddler years are the time to begin instilling values, reasoning, and incentives in the child, so that they learn accepted rules of behavior. It is important for parents to be consistent both in modeling behavior (behaving the way you want your child to behave),and in addressing appropriate versus inappropriate behavior in the child. Positive behavior should be recognized and rewarded. Time-out may be introduced for negative behavior, or for going beyond the limits you set for your child.
- The toddler's favorite word may seem to be "NO!!!" It is important for parents not to fall into a pattern of negative behavior with yelling, spanking, and threatening of their own.
- Teach children the proper names of body parts.
- Stress the unique, individual qualities of the child.
- Teach concepts of please, thank you, and sharing with others.
- Read to the child on a regular basis -- it will enhance the development of verbal skills.
- Toddlers thrive on regularity and major changes in their routine are challenging for them -- toddlers should have regular nap, bed, snack, and meal times.
- Toddlers should not be allowed to eat multiple snacks throughout the day. Multiple snack times tend to suppress their appetite for regular meals, which tend to be more balanced.
- Travel and guests can be expected to disrupt the child’s routine and make them more irritable. Reassurance and reestablishing routine in a calm way are the best responses to these situations.
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