Children who are 14 months to 3 years of age are generally classified as toddlers. It is common to wonder whether your toddler is developing normally or whether their behavior is typical, but every child develops at a different rate. If your child appears to be at a different level than another child, it doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong. Guidelines for child development are simply that -- guidelines.
1. Curiosity and Exploration
Toddlers are learning constantly about their world and are in need of constant supervision. A toddler is just beginning to understand that they can control events in their world, so they start to experiment. Some of these experiments are relatively harmless such as "What happens when I spill this cup of water?" However, others are more dangerous such as "What happens when I stick things in this outlet?" Toddlers do not have the capacity yet to know whether something is a bad idea, but they want to try everything. Ensure that your toddler is being watched at all times.
By the end of their toddler years, children can be expected to say two- to three-word sentences, such as "Want up" or "What is that?" You might notice that your toddler babbles a lot. This is their way of testing out their voice and seeing what kind of sounds they can make. You might also hear your toddler experimenting with buzzes, screams and growling noises. This is all part of their vocal exploration. A toddler may start screaming for no apparent reason, simply because they noticed a slight echo in the room and think that this is an interesting new development. Expect your toddler to be noisy and talkative.
Many parents get embarrassed or frustrated when their child won't share or becomes physically aggressive when upset. However, these behaviors don't mean you have failed as a parent. Possessive behavior, aggression or impatience are all normal toddler personality traits. Children at this age have not yet learned self-regulation and often react spontaneously. In addition, limited language means expressing themselves physically instead. This is a good age to start explaining things to your children such as saying "We don't hit, because it hurts" or "Sometimes we have to share our toys and take turns." However, don't be surprised if your teaching moments don't catch on right away. Just keep trying. It takes time to learn self-regulation, and many won't start to get it until preschool or kindergarten.
Toddlers are discovering new freedoms because they are now mobile. You will see that they want to do almost everything on their own and that they might become upset at having to be in a stroller. They also will want to feed themselves and might want to help you with tasks such as putting away the dishes or sweeping. This is a good age to start offering your toddler choices, such as "Do you want milk or juice?" They like the idea of making their own choices like a grown up. Offering choices is also a good way to start teaching behavior regulation. For example, if you have a child who will not take medicine, you can say, "You can choose to take the medicine yourself the big-girl way, or Mommy and Daddy will have to make you take it." They might still choose the "hard" way, but at least they know they had some say in the matter.
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