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The Nurturing Parent

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  1. Introduction
  2. Getting Started & Assessment
    Description and Orientation
  3. Change, Growth and Letting Go
  4. My Life Script
  5. Nurturing Parenting
    Nurturing as a Lifestyle
  6. Nurturing Skills Rating Scale
  7. Cultural Parenting Traditions
    My Cultural Portrait
  8. Developing Spirituality in Parenting
    Ways to Increase Spirituality
  9. Making Good Choices
    Smoking and My Child's Health
  10. Families & Alcohol Use
  11. Families and Alcohol Use Questionnaire
  12. 12 Steps to Keeping Children Drug Free
  13. Self-Awareness Quiz
  14. Love, Sex, STDs and AIDS
  15. Dating, Love and Rejection
  16. Touch, Personal Space, and Date Rape
  17. Possessive and Violent Relationships
  18. Growth and Development of Children
    Children's Brain Development
  19. The Male and Female Brain
  20. Ages & Stages: Appropriate Expectations
  21. Ages & Stages: Infant Development
  22. Ages & Stages: Toddler Development
  23. Ages & Stages: Preschooler Development
  24. Ages & Stages: Skills Strips
  25. Feeding Young Children Nutritious Foods
  26. Toilet Training
  27. Keeping My Children Safe
  28. The Importance of Touch
    The Importance of Parent/Child Touch
  29. Infant & Child Massage (Refer to the Nurturing Book for Babies and Children)
  30. Developing Empathy
    Developing Empathy
  31. Getting My Needs Met
  32. Myths and Facts About Spoiling Your Children
  33. Recognizing and Understanding Feelings
    Helping Children Learn How to Handle Their Feelings
  34. "Feelings" Exercise
  35. Criticism, Confrontation and Rules for "Fair Fighting"
  36. Problem Solving, Decision Making, Negotiation and Compromise
  37. Managing and Communicating Feelings
    Understanding and Handling Stress
  38. Understanding and Expressing Anger
  39. Understanding Discipline
    Improving Self-Worth
  40. Measuring My Self-Worth
  41. Children's Self-Worth
  42. Ten Ways to Improve Children's Self-Worth
  43. Developing Personal Power in Children and Adults
  44. Helping Children Manage Their Behavior
  45. Understanding Discipline
  46. Developing Family Morals and Values
  47. Developing Family Rules
  48. Child Proofing Your Home
  49. Home Safety Checklist
  50. Safety Reminders by Age
  51. Rewards and Punishments
    Using Rewards to Guide and Teach Children
  52. Using Punishments to Guide and Teach Children
  53. Praising Children and Their Behavior
  54. Time Out
  55. Punishing Children's Inappropriate Behavior
    Why Parents Spank Their Children
  56. Verbal and Physical Redirection
  57. Ignoring Inappropriate Behavior
  58. Developing Nurturing Parenting Routines
    Establishing Nurturing Parenting Routines
  59. Nurturing Diapering and Dressing Routine
  60. Nurturing Feeding Time Routine
  61. Nurturing Bath Time Routine
  62. Nurturing Bed Time Routine
  63. Prenatal Parenting
    Changes in Me and You
  64. Body Image
  65. Keeping Our Bodies and Babies Healthy
  66. Health and Nutrition
  67. Fetal Development
  68. Foster and Adoptive Parents
    Foster & Adoptive Children: Attachment, Separation, and Loss
  69. Expectations on foster and Adopted Children
  70. Worksheet for Adoptive Parents
  71. Worksheet for Foster Parents
    Parenting Resources
Lesson 22 of 72
In Progress

Ages & Stages: Toddler Development

Hope4Families October 25, 2022

Life with toddlers is rarely dull. Their busyness, intensity, curiosity, Independence, and increasing verbal skills may make them both exciting and frustrating for parents. Parents are often pleased by some of the observations they verbalize, and sometimes outraged at their stubbornness. This stage has often been called the “terrible twos” because of the child’s increased need to explore the surroundings and gain control over the environment. Both expressive language and physical mobility increase during the stage. The toddler is in a rush to discover a new style of living.

Physical Development

By the end of the first year, the average 1 year old is between 27 to 29 inches in height and weight approximately 20 lb. By the end of the third year, height has increased to around 36 inches and weight to 35 lb. Although growth in the second and third years is slower than infancy, it still occurs at a rapid pace.

Large Muscle Development – (Gross Motor)

  • The child should be walking better. Feet are more parallel and can walk without holding arms up for balance. Child usually can walk backwards (15 months)
  •  The toddler can pick up things from a standing position without falling. Now that hands are free, he loves to carry things, especially big things (15 to 18-months) 
  • Child likes to push or pull toys; loves to throw things (15 to 18 months)
  • Seats self in child’s chair; moves to music (18 to 24 months)
  • Runs, jumps, climbs, and stands on chair, walks up stairs, crawls downstairs backwards, kicks a ball, loves pounding, tugging, lugging, dumping (18 to 24 months)
  • Climbs small ladder (around 36 months)
  • Walks on tiptoes; stands on one foot with aid (24 to 36 months)

Small Muscle Development – (Fine Motor)

  • Combines use of several objects: hitting one object with the other; dropping small things into large containers (15 to 18 months)
  • Begins to use spoon to eat; drinks from a cup that is held (18 months)
  • Turn several pages at a time; can make a straight stroke with pencil or crayons instead of just a scribble (18 months)
  • Can turn a doorknob, builds tower of many blocks (18 months)
  • Turn single pages; drinks from a cup without help (24 to 36 months)
  • Removes shoes, pants, socks, sweater, unzips large zipper (24 months)
  • Snips with scissors; holds crayons with thumb and fingers, not fists; paints with wrist action; makes dots, lines, circular strokes (24 to 36 months)
  •  uses one hand consistently in most activities (24 to 36 months)

Intellectual Development

The increased exploration and discovery of objects within the environment leads to activities that expand the child’s understanding of the world. At 18 months, the toddler’s interest is directed beyond his body. Toddlers begin to understand that each object has an independent existence and permanence. Such understanding leads to exploration of these objects and how they work. The child learns that a chair remains the same whether seen from above, behind, or beneath.

From eighteen months to two years of age, children are limited to the immediate experiencing of objects, people, and whatever or whoever else is present at the moment. A lot of time is spent staring at objects and people. The beginning of language use and memory occurs around two years. By three, children are able to remember events, people, and activities they observed in the environment. Memory expands dramatically. Memory helps in the development of language. During two and three years of age, language develops rapidly, and imaginative and imitative play increases. Parents are often surprised at what children are able to remember and imitate later.

  • Toddlers are curious about textures. They like to stroke a cat or dog and rub their cheeks against the fur (18 months)
  • Toddlers are attracted to water and to toilets and enjoy playing in the bathroom (18 to 24 months)
  • Imitates actions and words of adults (18 to 24 months)
  • Recognizes difference between you and me (18 to 24 months)
  • Has limited attention span; accomplishes primary learning through exploration of environment (12 to 24 months)
  • Responds to simple directions, “Give me the block,” “Get your shoes” (24 to 36 months)
  • Recognizes self in mirror; can talk briefly about what he is doing (24 to 36 months)
  • Has limited sense of time: vaguely knows idea of past and future and knows such terms as “yesterday” and “tonight,” although they may be used incorrectly (24 to 36 months)

Language Development

Babies begin to produce a few basic words at about a year of life. By 24 months, most children are speaking phrases and have a wide range of words. A two-year-old has a vocabulary of perhaps 50 words, which increases to about 900 words by the time the child is three.

Many factors contribute to the development of language in a child. A strong, emotional relationship with mother, enhanced by the amount and quality of time spent together, and the amount of talking, asking questions, and responding to what the child says increases the child’s verbal activities. 

  • Says first meaningful words (12 to 24 months)
  • Uses a single word plus a gesture to ask for objects (12 to 24 months)
  • Refers to self by name; uses “my” or “mine” to indicate possession (12 to 24 months)
  • Toddler likes to talk to self; replaces baby language with sentences; likes to repeat words (24 months)
  • Joins words together in two word phrases, e.g. “See doggy” (24 months)
  • Asks what and where questions (24 to 36 months)

Social/Emotional Development – Autonomy vs. Doubt

Parents of toddlers have an overwhelming job. The child continues to be needy and dependent, but at the same time is growing and developing into an independent person both physically and emotionally.

The second and third years of a child’s life focus on the emergence of autonomy. This autonomy is built upon the child’s new motor and mental abilities. The child takes pride in his new accomplishment and wants to do everything himself. Whether it is pulling the rapper off a piece of candy, wanting to dress himself, or flushing the toilet, the child wants to demonstrate his competence at completing the task.

The importance of this stage reflects upon the willingness of parents to allow the child to express autonomy. If parents are impatient and do for the child what a child is capable of doing, they create a sense of shame and doubt. Overprotecting, abusive treatment, criticizing, and inappropriate expectations foster feelings of “I’m not capable” or “I’m not worthy.” Such doubt or shame will handicap a child’s attempts to achieve autonomy in adolescence and adulthood.

Parents need to help a child explore and grow during this stage. To accomplish this task, parents can: 

  • Provide a safe environment for the child to explore by “childproofing“ the house by removing breakables and eliminating hazards.
  •  Provide a creative environment for the child to explore.
  •  Use creative toys and games to facilitate learning.
  •  Be involved in the child’s exploration.
  •  Talk to the child to reinforce natural curiosity and exploration of the environment.


Separation from Parents

Children quite frequently get upset at separation from the parents, particularly from Mother. The emotional tie that is developed between mother and child results in the child wanting to be with the parent. Crying at separation is normal. Throwing temper tantrums at separation is a sign of possible problems.

Research has shown that children who are positively attached to their Mother develop a sense of trust and feelings of security. Securely attached toddlers are outgoing preschoolers who are well-liked, attack new problems vigorously and positively, and can accept help from others. They are sympathetic to others, self-directed and goal-oriented, and exhibit high self-esteem and self-confidence. Toddlers who are not positively, emotionally attached to the parents, particularly to the Mother, exhibit problem behaviors. Such children are anxious, throw more tantrums when presented with problems, are more negative in response to Mother, ignore and oppose her in many ways. Children who feel less securely attached to Mom fear separation. The fear can turn into panic during an actual separation. To minimize the fear, a strong attachment needs to be established between Mother and child. Feelings of security need to be developed and assurances that Mother will not abandon the child need to be expressed.


As the toddler becomes more aware of self, more independent, more definite in what he can and cannot do, the child will become more assertive in interactions with parents and peers. “No” becomes a common word. “I want,” “I need,” and “more” are other phrases and words frequently expressed in the toddler years. Children also like to command parent, sometimes adopting dictatorial tones of “do this” or “do that!”

Assertion turns to frustration and anger when toddlers cannot accomplish what they set out to do. When parents exert limits (discipline) designed to manage behavior, toddlers may express their anger physically yelling, crying, temper tantrums, holding breath, or throwing objects. The physical activities release the tension that cannot be expressed in words. Consistent application of ignoring undesirable behavior, praising desirable behavior, and punishing unacceptable behavior through time-out, loss of privilege, etc. will help toddlers negotiate this stage of development. As children become more capable and competent at achieving their end, the tantrums will decrease.

Toilet Training

Most experts agree that somewhere between 18 to 24 months, children are ready to learn toilet training. However it is important for parents to know that, just like eating, toileting is an area that parents cannot control, and the first area children learn that they can control. Therefore, in an extreme struggle of wills in toilet training, the child will win. An approach that helps children lessen their need to control this area is generally more successful.


Try this…

List one thing you can do to encourage your child development in each of the following areas of development:

a.    Gross Motor: ___________________________________________________________

b. Fine Motor:  ____________________________________________________________

c. Intellect:  ______________________________________________________________

d. Language:  _____________________________________________________________

e. Social:  ________________________________________________________________

f. Emotional:  _____________________________________________________________