Understanding Your Toddler
Toddlerhood is about developing a sense of self, and showing a desire for independence with autonomy. She may experience separation anxiety, and her emotions are apparent.
“The toddler craves independence, but he fears desertion.” ~ Dorothy Corkville Briggs
Your toddler, age between eighteen months to three years, is in a state of transition. She is starting to develop her sense of self and she will soon develop new relationships. Douglas Davies, the author of ‘Child Development,’ says that this is a difficult time because becoming an individual requires separation. Remember that it will be easier if she knows that she can rely on you for love, comfort and reassurance. Your role is unique, and you can provide opportunities and experiences at home to enrich your child’s life.
Davies suggests that your toddler may experience separation anxiety from the eight to the twenty-fourth month, and become clingy and resistant to separation. She may exhibit fear and anxiety in the presence of other people, and throw temper tantrums. Be sympathetic, provide comfort and reassurance, and avoid forcing her into difficult situations. Feeling safe and secure will help her outgrow separation anxiety. Your toddler is maturing emotionally; however, her emotions are apparent and she is likely to be easily overwhelmed and frustrated. Help her cope and express emotions by your calm and patient demeanor.
Your child will develop autonomy over time, show a desire for independence, and resist care-giving routines. Joni Levine recommends providing her with opportunities for independence, and recognize her efforts and accomplishments. She will wish for some degree of control and power with independence. Feeling a sense of autonomy and power is an important milestone. Remember that restricting this area can make her doubtful of her abilities, reluctant to try things, or act independently. However; if your toddler becomes defiant or behaves out of spite, manage her with patience and humor. Remember that your toddler has not yet developed an understanding of the world from the perspective of other people, making sharing and empathetic behavior a challenge.
Davies, D. (2010). Child Development (3rd Ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
Levine, J. (2006). The Everything Toddler Activities Handbook. Massachusetts: Adams Media.
Puckett, M., Black, J., Wittmer, D. & Petersen, S. (2008). The Young Child. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Higher Education.