Every child progresses at his/her own rate but there are certain developmental milestones to watch out for.
Biophysical Traits: From 1-3 years of old, height and weight slows by half, as compared to the first year of life. Children also begin to show greater variation in size. From 2-3 years old, the chest becomes larger around the abdomen. His/her arms, legs and torso lengthen. By age one, he/she has approximately 8 teeth, by age two, 16 teeth, by age three, 20 teeth. Between 12 and 18 months, he/she begins walking, can pick up small objects with thumb and pointer finger and is beginning to feed him/herself. Between 18 and 24 months, he/she can jump in place, grasp a crayon with fist and can scribble. Between 2-2 ½ years, he/she can push his/herself on wheeled toys and turn pages in a book. There is a decrease in appetite because the child is growing at a slower rate. He/she usually will have a prominent abdomen- pouchy belly. He/she may waddle or walk with a wide stance.
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Psychological Traits: According to Philosopher Erik Erickson (1902-1994), children at this age are in the Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt stage of psychosocial development. During this stage of development Toddlers (ages 1–3 years) begin to explore their world, they learn that they can control their actions and act on their environment to get results. They begin to show clear preferences for certain elements of the environment, such as food, toys, and clothing. A toddler’s main task is to resolve the issue of autonomy vs. shame and doubt by working to establish independence. This is the “me do it” stage.
Cognitive Traits: At age 1, a child explores things in different ways, like shaking, banging, and throwing. He/she can find hidden things easily and looks at the right picture or thing when it’s named. During this time, a child starts to use things correctly. He/she can put things in a container, takes things out of a container and release items from grasp. During this time period, the child can also follow simple directions like “pick up the toy”. By age 2, children can find things even when hidden under various objects, sort shapes and colors, complete sentences and rhymes in familiar books, build towers using 4 or more blocks, show preference for use of one hand over the other, follows basic 2-step directives, and name items in a book such as dog, car, ball, etc.,. By the age of 3, a child can work toys with buttons, levers and moving parts. He/she can complete puzzles with 3 to 4-pieces. During the milestone, a child can play make-believe with dolls, animals and people. He/she can build towers with 6 or more blocks, turn pages in a book and screw and unscrew jar lids and turn door handles.
Language and Communication Traits: At age 1, a toddler can respond to simple spoken request, use simple gestures such as shaking his/her head as a response to no, and say words like mama and dada. At age 2, a toddler can point to thing or pictures when they are named, identify familiar people and body parts, follow simple directions and repeat words spoken by others. By age 3, a toddler can follow 2-3 step directions, say first name, age and gender, name most familiar things, carry on a conversation using 2-3 sentences and says words like “I, he, we and me”.
Social-Emotional Traits: At 1 year of age, a toddler is shy or nervous with strangers. He/she will cry when mom or dad leaves. He/she shows fear in some situations. He/she will hand you a book when he/she wants to hear a story. He/she will repeat sounds or actions to get attention. During the age, a 1-year old will assist in dressing by holding out his/her arm and will play games like pick-a-boo and pat-a-cake. At age 2, he/she will get excited when with other children, copies others, shows more and more independence, shows defiant behaviors and participates in solitary play in which he/she plays alone ant is not interested in playing with others quite yet. By age 3,he/she copies adults and friends, shows affection for others without prompting, takes turns in games, shows concern for others feelings, displays a wide range of emotions, separates easily from caregiver, dresses and undresses self and can take cane of some self-help skills (toileting, washing hands, brushing teeth) with adult support.
Sexual and Gender traits and Identity Awareness: In many cases children will say how they feel, strongly identifying as a boy or girl — and sometimes — neither or both. While children might go through periods of insisting that they are the opposite gender of their birth sex, if they continue to do so it was likely never a phase. Most children typically develop the ability to recognize and label stereotypical gender groups, such as girl, woman and feminine, and boy, man and masculine, between ages 18 and 24 months. Most also categorize their own gender by age 3 years. However, because gender stereotypes are reinforced, some children learn to behave in ways that bring them the most reward, despite their authentic gender identity.
Kohlberg (1966) puts forward a stage theory of gender development. Kohlberg's theory of gender identity development describes how young children learn to understand their gender, and what being that gender means in their everyday life. Kohlberg theorized that there are 3 stages to this process. Initially, during the early preschool years (ages 3 to 4 years), young children engage in gender labeling. Young children can tell the difference between boys and girls and will label people accordingly. However, these very young children still believe that gender can change and is not permanent. Children of this age also have trouble understanding that males and females have different body shapes, but also share characteristics.
Exhibiting “typical” developmental traits during the toddler years does impact and dictate socially acceptable behaviors. Children who meet developmental milestones as toddlers can communicate their wants/needs more effectively, engage in play with others more positively and can build positive relationships with their peers and caregivers which allows for them to develop trust and explore their environment more freely. Typical developing toddlers can use strategies provided by an adult to manage conflicts and express feelings in an appropriate manner with support from an adult. Typical developing toddlers display more independence and can take care several self-help skills (toileting, feeding, dressing/undressing, etc.,
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When a toddler does not meet these developmental milestones, he or she lacks language that is important to building positive relationships, expressing wants/needs and developing skills to manage feelings. Atypical developing toddlers may display attachment issues that can impact their relationship to the caregiver in which they do not develop a sense of trust or attachment. When toddlers display these ‘atypical’ behaviors, they are usually ostracized by their peers due to lack of skills that are vital for effective communicating, play skills and building positive relationships.
Atypical Psychological & Emotion traits- He/she is not interested in pretend play, he/she has extreme difficulty separating from caregiver, he/she is not starting or responding to simple interactions with other children, he/she is showing abnormal aggression, he/she shows extreme fears that interfere with daily activities and he is extremely “rigid” about routines.
Atypical Language and Communication traits- He/she does not follow verbal instructions without needing gestures. He/she does not add gestures to help get their meaning across when they have not been understood. He/she does not understand more complex sentences (When…. then). He/she Frequently “echoes” words and does not use at least 100 words. He/she is not saying some 2 and 3- word combinations. His/her vocabulary does not seem to be growing and language development seems “stuck”.
Atypical cognitive traits: He/she does not uncover a desired toy he sees someone hide by 12 months old. He/she does not point or vocalize to indicate wants by 18 months. He/she does not initiate their own play by 2 years old. He/she does not exhibit curiosity by age 2. He/she is unable to pay attention to a task for 3 minutes by age 3. He/she does not substitute an object for another in play by age 3 (ex: using a wooden block when a play phone is not available).
Atypical behaviors can negatively impact a child’s sense of sense and overall development. As a child gets older, he/she will begin to compare his/herself to his/her peers and may see differences in language, cognitive, social, emotional, physical and/or sexual identity traits. When this happens, a child may feel ‘different’, guilt or ashamed of who he/she is. It turn, the impact may led to the child not being able to create positive relationships, not having the language to effectively communicate, not having the skills needed to cope or problem solve and having a negative self-image which may possibly affect his/her entire life. With developmental monitoring and developmental screenings from birth, a parent or caregiver can see possible ‘red flags’ in a child’s developmental milestones. Early identification and intervention can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to learn new skills, as well as reduce the need for costly interventions over time. Child 0-3 years of age can receive early intervention service from outside sources to support them in their areas of need with a referral from their physician.
- Amidon, J., Monroe, A., & Ortwein, M. (n.d.). Education, Society, & the K-12 Learner. Retrieved from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/teachereducationx92x1/chapter/eriksons-stages-of-psychosocial-development/
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