Thursday, June 10, 2010

Babies Development in the Second Year: 19-24 Months

Most parents have heard about the “terrible twos” reportedly filled with wild mood swings, tantrums, and defiance. For those of you with children closing in on their second birthdays, you may wonder when, and if, your sweet toddlers will turn to the “dark side.” In our last 2 posts, we described development that typically happens in infants between 12 and 18 months. Today, we’ll wrap up the series by focusing on changes that occur in most children between 19 to 24 months. A better understanding of development during these important months may help parents cope with the highs and lows of toddler parenting.

Cognitive Development – Planning, Perseverance, and Pretending

Between 18 months and 2 years, children’s ability to anticipate and solve problems expands. You can see this happening in your own child when she suddenly hesitates before she starts an action, like trying to put on her own socks. She'll look thoughtfully at those socks as she concentrates on each step in her plan. With each attempt, she may pause again, puzzling through solutions to each barrier along the way. Play becomes more creative and complex. Many toddlers are able to play noticeably longer by themselves. They love to pretend and will invite you to join them. With improved memory and the ability to anticipate, perseverance begins to emerge. No more “out of sight, out of mind” for loud toys or dangerous objects because 2-year-olds can remember what they wanted minutes, hours, days, even weeks after you've said no. Meanwhile, toddlers' use of language blossoms. Words turn into short sentences structured loosely on their parents’ language.

Toddlers imitate everyone and everything that interests them (especially older siblings) as if they were walking video recorders. Most will believe that they can doing anything they see others do, including climbing, jumping, and swimming. Be extra vigilant around pools! I speak from experience. Unfortunately, toddlers' abilities often do not match their ambitions and many end up in tears when they aren't able to accomplish their goals. Routines can be a source of comfort for busy 2-year-olds and many love the closeness and relaxation that comes with cuddling with you to read a favorite book. Just be prepared to read that favorite book over and over again.

Social Development – A Sense of Self

As children approach their second birthdays, they become increasingly self-aware. They passionately embrace their independence from their a point. They simultaneously wish to be independent and completely protected and cared for. Emotions like pride and embarrassment become evident as toddlers celebrate their successes and struggle to cope with the inevitable accidents and mistakes. With all the distractions in their world, most toddlers find it difficult to concentrate on any one thing for very long. Listening to your instructions becomes a real challenge. When you need your child to listen carefully to what you have to say, it may help to get down to her level using your face and body to block out distractions as you talk. With her new found problem solving abilities, your child will try to discover how to get her way through experimentation and perseverance. Many parents believe that 2-year-olds are manipulative but toddlers are a still a long way off from a sense of right and wrong. Toddlers who point and cry in the store to get their favorite candy are experimenting to learn how best to get what they want. Keep in mind that toddlers will remember and repeat actions that work. Toddlers feel all of their emotions with passionate intensity and, without the developmental changes that come along in the next couple of years to help them control those emotions, they lose control fairly easily.

Physical Development – A Whirlwind of Activity

At 2, many children are more active than they will be at any other time in their lives. Between 2 and 3 years of age, they learn to walk steadily in all directions, to climb stairs, to run faster, and to kick a ball. Most 2-year-olds still fall a great deal, especially when chasing older siblings. Two year olds are whirlwinds of activity because they are interested in nearly everything and have limited control over their emotions and actions. All of your stamina will be needed to keep your own little whirlwind safe!

We hope that you’ve found this short series helpful even if 2 years of age is a long way off for your baby. Coming up soon, we’ll have a post specifically about tantrums.

Next time: We celebrate our 1st birthday!!!

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