TODDLER SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
This area of development involves learning to interact with other people, and to understand and control your own emotions. Babies start to develop relationships with the people around them right from birth, but the process of learning to communicate, share, and interact with others takes many years to develop. Developing the ability to control your emotions and behavior is also a long process. Children continue to develop their social-emotional skills well into their teenage years, or even young adulthood.
Below are some of the typical developmental milestones for social-emotional skills. After each age group, you can find some “red flags” that might indicate a concern.
Please also see Communication Skills for more information about early development because speech and language skills are so important for effective social development.
Between the ages of 1-2 years, your child will:
Recognize herself in the mirror or photograph and smile or make faces at herself
Begin to say ‘no’ to bedtime and other requests
Imitate adults’ actions and words (e.g. chores)
Understand words and commands, and respond to them
Hug and kiss parents, familiar people and pets
Bring things to “show” other people
Begin to be helpful around the house
Begin to feel jealousy when she is not the centre of attention
Show frustration easily
May play next to another child, but will not really share until 3 or 4 years of age
Be able to play alone for a few minutes
React to changes in daily routines
Share a piece of food
Develop a range of emotions (may have tantrums, show aggression by biting, etc)
Start to assert independence by preferring to try do things “by myself”, without help
Red Flags for Social-Emotional Development (2 years)
If you notice some of the following things by the time your child is 18-24 months old (2 years), you may want to talk to your doctor, or to another health professional such as a mental health clinician, a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, or a psychologist.
Doesn’t imitate other people
Constantly moves from one activity to another and is not able to stay at an activity for brief periods
Requires constant attention to stay at an activity
Doesn’t show any interest in other children
Doesn’t “show” things to other people
Extremely “rigid” about routines, becoming extremely upset when they are changed
Too passive, and doesn’t want to try things other children her age are doing
Has extreme difficulty waiting for items he wants