The first two years of a child’s life are significant because your baby is learning to think, speak, love, feel and trust, which are all part of healthy attachment.
As a parent, you help shape the experiences your child has by spending time comforting, playing and teaching them, making them feel safe and secure.
Your children’s attachment to you will give them the confidence they needs to explore their world, helping them to grow, learn and develop.
Your baby is becoming a toddler and is learning to talk. You may start to hear the words “no” and “mine”, but your child may not understand right from wrong just yet. What a confusing age to be!
Toddlers can sometimes experience mood swings, going from happy to sad and back again. Some of the time, they will cling to you and may even cry when you leave the room, or may push you away at other times. Toddlers are beginning to do things on their own and learning some new skills.
Your toddler needs your love and encouragement to learn to do new things. Your child learns by doing things over and over again. Allow them to explore and learn, but keep them safe by preventing falls or other childhood injuries. Your role is to keep a balance between your child’s need for independence and their need to be protected.
Encourage them to try and support them through failures. Show your child how you expect them to behave and offer a series of choices that will help them feel that have some control in their young life.
Toddlers do not develop empathy until about 30 months of age, so they don’t understand their feelings or the feelings of others quite yet.
18 months is a special time in your toddler’s growth and development. It is important to book an appointment for your toddler to be seen by your health care provider. Learn more about the enhanced 18-month well-baby visit on the Ministry of Children and Youth Services website.
You will experience difficult days with a toddler, as they learn how to be more independent and do things on their own. As they struggle with learning new tasks, you may notice more crying, yelling, tantrums or foot stomping. They may even bang her head on the floor out of frustration.
When your toddler loses control, they need your help to learn how to calm down. Remember to try to keep calm yourself first (count silently to 10) and then come down to your toddler’s physical level, providing the comfort they need.
Even when you are both frustrated, try to be patient and use it as a teaching moment. Instead of resorting to spanking, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Department of Justice Canada provide some helpful examples of positive discipline that may be effective with your toddler.
Here are some tips to improve a difficult day:
- Be flexible when planning your day, knowing that things may change
- Try and make things sound fun such as “Let’s pick up these crayons together”
- Let your toddler help with tasks such stirring, sweeping, dusting or putting toys away
- Set aside time to play with your toddler and do things like read or tell stories, sing rhymes, play music or dance
- Take them out for a walk in the stroller or to the park
- When your toddler naps, take a few moments for yourself to relax and re-energize
- Plan some fun activities with others, maybe with another mom or at the Ontario Early Years Centre or local library
- Remember it is okay to ask for help and support from friends, family or a professional
As your toddler gets a little older, they are not only growing and developing different motor skills such as hopping, skipping or walking up and down stairs, they are also learning to play with others, learning to talk and starting to use their imagination. Children begin to pretend, invent, remember and plan, while also beginning to understand simple rules, like sharing.
Your child is learning so many new things and may develop their own way of doing everything. Encouraging your child to dress, wash or feed themself is really important and should be encouraged in a positive way.
Remember, every child is a little different and if your child is shy or not ready to play with other children, don’t force it. With encouragement and comfort, their confidence and interactions with others will grow in time.
At around 2.5 years of age, your child is beginning to develop empathy and is just starting to understand how their behaviour impacts others. It is important to help them understand different feelings like being scared, sad or shy.
Your child’s own personality is just starting to develop around this time as well. Toddlers love to please others and respond really well to praise. Children feel safe, secure, loved and understood when they hear positive praise and it is a great time as a parent to teach your child new things.
A few quick tips to remember with your 2 to 3 year old child:
- Routines and consistency are really important
- Be patient with your child
- Show your child how to solve problems calmly
- Redirect your child towards appropriate toys or play when they get into things they shouldn’t
- Help your child make decisions and learn how to develop some independence
- Use positive praise for positive behaviour
For more information on the following topics, see these sections of our website:
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If you have questions about your child’s development and whether she is reaching her milestones, visit the NDDS website to access screening tools for 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 2 years and 3 years.
For more helpful tips on positive parenting and discipline for your toddler, visit the Children See Children Learn website.
As a parent, you play an important role in the development of your baby’s brain. How you interact daily with your baby can have a life-long effect on your baby’s ability to reach his full potential. If you would like more information about how to support your baby’s brain development, visit the Healthy Babies Healthy Brains website.
Information has been adapted from the Let’s Grow Newsletters.