Developing Socially and Emotionally: 13 to 24 Months

Social and emotional child development is not only tied together but also grows tremendously between 13 and 24 months. Here are a few child development milestones in your toddler's budding 'social life.'

At the beginning of the year, your toddler believes that they are the center of the universe. By the end of the year, they are aware of other people and the need to share with them (although they may not always do it).

The First Few Months
By the time your toddler is 13 months, she will begin to start exploring the limits of her power and control. She is starting to become aware of her independence and just what that means. You may also notice that she doesn't like being left with people she doesn't know too well. This shows you that your toddler knows the difference between who live with her and those who don't. Try taking her out to places with lots of people so that she can see all the different faces.

You have probably also noticed that your 14-month-old doesn't play with other toddlers so much as he plays beside them. This is perfectly normal since at this point other toddlers are merely objects to him that he will try to control. Having more play dates with other toddlers will help your son feel more comfortable in social situations, although he may still not play with other toddlers.

Because of their limited vocabulary, toddlers have a hard time expressing their fears and anxieties. This can be especially troubling if your toddler is having nightmares. To help calm them after a nighttime terror, sit and gently rock with them or rub their back until they fall asleep again.

At 15 months, your toddler is becoming a regular Liza Minnelli, always looking to perform. Your toddler does this because she enjoys your reaction of smiles and laughter to her dance routines or whatever form of entertainment she's providing.

Toddlers thrive off of reactions and they are now starting to explore how their actions affect others. It won't take your toddler long to figure out which behaviors you approve of and which you don't. But also remember that any behavior that gets a big reaction, good or bad, will be repeated, so don't make a big kafuffle when they do something you don't like. Otherwise, they're sure to do it again.

Halfway There
You might find your toddler using you as an extension of them in order for them to get what they want. This is because she is starting to realize some of her limits but still wants to try, even if that means pushing you towards the bookshelf to take down the book she wants.

Showing their frustration through tantrums and aggression is very common for a toddler. Since they lack the verbal skills to express what they're feeling, they rely on physical anger. While it may seem strange, the fact that your toddler hits you and not just anyone shows that they have a certain level of trust in you. They know that you are the right person for them to vent their feelings to. You can help them find more constructive ways to express their emotions by teaching them words like "mad".

Toddlers enjoy their daily and nightly routine as it is something constant in their lives. If you stray from your toddler's routine, even just one tiny bit, you can expect to hear about it.

By the time your toddler is 17 months, they'll probably be friendlier towards strangers and people they see often but don't know so well. And around 18 months you may notice your toddler trying to form relationships with other toddlers. While she may realize that she's not the only one in the sandbox, she may spend more time observing or even pushing the other toddlers. They're not her playmates just yet.

As your toddler grows, he will want to try new things even though they are often tasks he cannot accomplish. Offer encouragement and let him have a go at the task as long as there's no risk of him getting hurt. It will help build his confidence and make him more willing to try new things in the future.

You might also find that your toddler has suddenly taken an interest in helping out around the house. Suddenly, he wants to sweep the floor, empty the dishwasher, wash the car and do the laundry. In fact, he is imitating what he has been watching you do since he was born. He wants to do the important, adult jobs just like you. Take advantage of his "pro-house work" attitude while you can and let him help out. Find simple tasks that he can do like load the dryer or put away the pots that belong on the bottom shelves.