12-18 MONTHS IN GENERAL:
After age 1 (or when your child starts walking) he begins to get into everything! Sometimes the period between 12 months and 18 months can feel very overwhelming because your child’s ‘concentration’ seems to have disappeared and he starts to explore everything.
This behaviour of course is very normal and you need to think developmentally what is happening in your child’s brain. Firstly, he can now walk. But that doesn’t mean well! It is his job to practice and practice and practice in order to perfect his movements. Just like any new skill, you cannot be the best overnight. Now that your child can walk, his hands are free to explore. He wants to touch everything!!! Children learn best by using all of their senses to touch, hear, taste, see…etc. so that is what their bodies are telling them to do. How do those leaves feel on that plant they have looked at for so many months? What happens if they bang the pot on the ground hard? Or how far can they throw it? They are little explorers!
Instead of “No, don’t touch that. No don’t do that. No No No….”
Your child will eventually tune you out. Your ‘no’ will either get ignored or will encourage more of the disobedient behavior! Your child may learn that their actions elicit a response from you. This attention pulls you away from what you are doing (cell phone, dishes, laundry, etc.) so your child becomes thrilled with the outcome, even though it may be negative!
TIP: Try to be clear with a STATEMENT and the ACTION required:
“That is a plant. We need to be gentle with the leaves.” Show your child how.
“The oven is hot. I cannot let you touch it because it might burn you.” And move the child away.
“The table is not for climbing/I cannot let you climb on the table…. feet on the floor.”
18-36 MONTHS IN GENERAL:
How do children of this age group differ? Your child is now walking and climbing. He has had time to practice and perfect a lot of gross motor movements and is now working more with the hand and fine motor movements. It may seem that your child is now able to focus again and sit for longer periods of time, working by connecting the hand and the brain. Your child’s primary focus is now on language, acquiring and verbalizing. His mind is advanced in cognition but verbally your child may not be able to vocalize all that he wants to say. Because of this, he gets frustrated often. Children of this age are willful, ego centric, and highly emotional.
Do you feel your child has a strong will? Well, in actuality every child of this age is ‘willful’! Your child’s will is developing and it is crucial that he exercises his capacity to make choices. Your child will eventually be able to make choices based on understanding, be responsible for the choices he makes, which will then make him confident and independent. The more opportunity for your child to make a choice within your boundaries, the more secure and calm he will feel.
Children under 3 are focused on their own self-development. We call them ‘egocentric’ because they are only concerned with themselves and their own abilities. The more real tasks you can give your child, the better. He wants to practice, repeat, and perform simple jobs that he sees around his house.
Also, your child may seem to fluctuate between highly emotional states quickly and drastically. These emotions may appear to be totally ridiculous, but for your child they are very intense and real! It is important for your child to feel acknowledged and his feelings validated. By naming the emotions, your child will be able to understand how he feels and eventually be empathetic towards others.
TIP: Remember these 3 things when setting limits with your child:
- SET THE LIMIT
- OFFER CHOICES
“I see that you are really upset that we have to go home now. Would you like to walk or I can pick you up?”
“I know you really want a cookie but soon it will be dinnertime. Would you like to help me chop the veggies or set the table?”
“You seem really frustrated at your baby brother for taking your toy away. I cannot let you hit him so you can either ask for it back nicely, or walk away and find something else to play with.”
I hope the above explanations and tips help you create a respectful relationship with your child!