Social and Emotional Development 18-36 Months

There is so much concern and questions raised about the spectrum of Autism that I thought it might be helpful to list some normal development aspects for babies and toddlers before the age of five.  This will be in a series of posts, determined by the physical age of the child.

Today’s post is for those babies ages 18 months to 36 months.

From “Washington State Early Learning and Development Benchmarks–Review Draft, November 2004.”

Social and Emotional Development from 18 months to 36 months

Some Indicators for Children:

  • Wants to take care of self.
  • Recognizes own accomplishments.
  • Shows completed projects (e.g., drawing, pile of blocks) to caregiver.
  • Expresses delight over own successs and wants others to appreciate these accomplishments as well.
  • Acts as though is capable of doing new tasks and activities (e.g., tries to sweep the floor with an adult-sized broom).

Some Strategies for Caregivers:

  • Encourage child to engage in new tasks.
  • Provide materials so that child can experience success.
  • Provide safe environment for action exploration.
  • Delight with child over accomplishments and explorations.
Scribble by one year old.

Image via Wikipedia

As I write these two short lists, I’m thinking of the parent/s who have a child who is unresponsive to either the child’s efforts or the parent’s efforts.  The child who focuses on a task with total unawareness of a parent trying to insert themselves into the child’s world.  Or the child who seems to be “deaf” to the parent’s words of praise or encouragement.

When we, as parents/caretakers, realize that there are other loving parents whose  child  can not respond in a give and take manner, perhaps it will help us to take more time with our own child.  To not simply nod our head and continue our own task when our child holds up his drawing, expecting (hoping for) our inspection and praise, but to actually take time to notice something about that specific drawing and then give encouragement for more art work.

I will caution parents and caregivers that when giving praise, be aware of being judgmental.  A wonderful tool of play therapy is to be reflective without assumption in one’s comments.  Here are some examples:

  • “There are lots of colors.”
  • “I see many lines.”
  • “There are big ones and small ones.”
  • “You put that (pointing) there and that (pointing) there.”

What we may take as a “tree” may be indicate a place of hiding or fear or adventure for a child.  A child’s metaphorical world is often very apparent to the child, but totally foreign to the adult.

The non-judgmental adult gives the child the gift of encouragement.

Be gentle with yourself and the children in your life.

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