Social and Emotional Development 36-60 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 toddlers, ages 36 months to 60 months.

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

Social and Emotional Development from 36 months to 60 months

Some Indicators for Children:

  • Expresses delight with mastery of a skill (e.g., says, “Now I can swing myself.”)
  • Asks others to view own creations (e.g., says “Look at my picture.”)
  • Demonstrates confidence in own abilities (e.g., “I can climb to the top of the big slide all by myself.”)
  • Expresses own ideas and opinions.

Some Strategies for Caregivers:

  • Encourage child to experiment with growing competence.
  • Provide ample time for child to play, explore, and experiment.
  • Invite child to share thoughts and feeling when accomplishing a new task.

I am reminded of a favorite story of my time with a three-year-old grandchild.  It was the day of the wedding.  With many tasks to be performed, everyone had scattered in a variety of directions (flowers for hair, dog out of kennel and to official wedding venue, great-grandparents to take care of, etc).  In the last quiet moments of taking a deep breath and slipping into my wedding attire, my granddaughter and I were alone in my room.  She watched as I put on layers of finery.  Once my dress had been donned and I turned to see my reflection in the mirror, she clapped her hands and said, “You did it all by yourself.”

How marvelous that she could take her current mantra of “I can do it all by myself” and apply it to me.  Not only had she learned about the reward of self capability, she was now extending that verbal reward to me.  How many lessons had she learned in being able to state that one sentence?  How often had her own parents encouraged her to try something new, applaud her efforts and reward her with clapping and cheers?  We do mirror what we learn.

That same granddaughter, at the same time often expressed her opinions in ways that challenged all my grandmotherly efforts to have her do what I needed for her to do.  Just the day before this wonderful, glowing moment, I had to absolutely ignore her desire to NOT take a bath and simply plunk her body into the bath water, so as to remove all the sea sand and salt from a romp in the ocean.

Child 1

Image by Tony Trần via Flickr

Yin and Yang.  Two and three-year-olds do test us for our abilities to be cheerleaders one moment and the adult-in-charge the next.  All are valuable lessons.  All are valuable tools.

But what happens when that 36-60 month old child doesn’t respond in a way that connects with you?  Continue to ask for eye contact, verbalize (and sign simultaneously), and ask for a response.  If you are concerned about your child’s inability to find joy with interactive play or task-work, please seek out expert help.  The ability to create and build relationship is crucial for all of us.

Be gentle with yourself and your children.

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