Toddler social Developmental milestones
Whether you have an outgoing or shy little one, socialization is an important part of your child's overall development. "[A] baby's social development is tied to so many other areas, " says Heather Wittenberg, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist specializing in child development. "Walking, in particular, triggers a cascade of milestones. And since most children begin to walk around the one-year mark, this is when you'll really start to see some big social milestones occur."
These milestones are important because they prepare a child to manage personal feelings, understand others' feelings and needs, and interact in a respectful and acceptable way. Find out what to expect when it comes to your child's social development.
Begin basic communication. One-year-olds will predominantly point and vocalize to express their intentions, says Maria Kalpidou, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. It's important to interact with your toddler by acknowledging what he's looking at and pointing out other cool things around him.
Recognize familiar people. When he sees Grandma and Grandpa, the babysitter, the pediatrician, and other familiar people, your toddler will begin to greet them with a smile (or a cry, depending on his mood!). "If the baby isn't paying attention to anyone around [him], that is definitely a red flag, " Dr. Wittenberg says. "You want him to be aware of what - and who - is around him, even if he cries when someone besides Mom and Dad walks into the room."
Interact with you. If your child hands you toys, this shows his willingness and ability to engage with others. This also sets the stage for lessons in taking turns, but don't expect too much on the sharing front just yet. "Back-and-forth playing is so important, " Dr. Wittenberg says. "You want your child to show signs of independence but also to be keyed into appropriate social situations."
Around this age, your child is engaging more with those around her, but she still prefers to play with Mom and Dad. Right now, your child is able to:
Begin to socialize. Children typically engage in parallel play at this age; this means that they play next to instead of with each other. "There isn't a lot of interaction with kids at this stage but it's still important to give your child time with other kids, " Dr. Wittenberg says.
Defend territory. This is the age where kids start fighting over toys and declaring, "It's mine!" Sharing is, of course, very difficult at this age, as 2-year-olds can't see another child's perspective. "Their social behavior reflects egocentric thinking, and their behavior is guided by their desires, " Dr. Kalpidou says. Model sharing and taking turns with your spouse to help your child learn these important social actions.
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