Psychological and emotional milestones
Prereading (12 to 36 months)
Most toddlers love storytime. It's a chance to snuggle with Mom or Dad, gaze at colorful pictures, and hear interesting sounds. But it's more than just a cozy activity - your child is also learning the earliest of reading skills, including:
- How books work - we open them, the story is inside.
- We read from left to right.
- Books can tell a story.
- Stories have a beginning and an end.
To encourage your child's love of reading, try to:
- Read aloud.
- Let your baby play with his books so he gets familiar with them.
- Keep it brief. Little people have little attention spans, and ten minutes - even five minutes - is a long time.
- Ask questions. Have him find simple things, like the baby's eyes or the pretty flower. Your goal is to bring what's happening on the page into an interaction between the two of you.
- Follow your child's lead. If your tot grabs the book from you to explore it on his own, let him - just hold him on your lap and cuddle with him as he looks.
Gaining independence (18 to 36 months)
Most babies don't see themselves as entities separate from their parents, especially their mothers. This changes quickly sometime in the second year, when they become aware that they're individuals, and are more insistent on doing things on their own. Here's how to give your child room to grow:
Allow more time in your schedule for her to do things herself. If she wants to put on her own coat, shoes, etc., getting out of the house will take that much longer.
Include her in your chores. Let her hold the dustpan, or send her around with a rag to dust furniture legs.
Be patient. At first, letting your child use a fork or pull on his pants will drive you crazy. But let her try and don't step in.
Your toddler's growing independence comes with a stage that can, at times, be exasperating: She'll assert her independence by saying "no" all the time. Your impulse may be to show your child who's boss, but you'll have better luck if you:
Say yes to your little naysayer whenever you can - in other words, when it isn't unsafe, inconvenient, or unreasonable.
Be firm when necessary. When you have to get your way, do it as quickly, deliberately, and calmly as you can. Once you've physically put your toddler in her car seat, you can explain your reasoning in simple terms - you can tell her that it's dangerous to ride in a car without one.