Social Emotional Skills in Toddlers

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Social Emotional Skills in Toddlers

Social Emotional Skills in Toddlers

Building Strong, Positive Relationships

Starting from birth, babies learn how to interact with the world and with others by the way they are cared for. Your loving, compassionate relationship with your child is the foundation on which they will build their own skills for trust, empathy, and compassion.

It’s easy, and a natural outgrowth of everyday interactions. From hugs and kisses to “Peek-a-boo” and big smiles, it’s all emotional training in the same way baby talk benefits the development of language skills. You take care of the parenting, and the social emotional skills will come.

Of course, just as with muscle and motor skill development, social-emotional skills have general milestones. All children develop at their own pace and in their own way, but let’s take a look at some expected social-emotional milestones. If you feel your child is falling behind, it may be time to seek help.

Birth to One Year

By six months, babies generally delight in simple games like “Patty Cake” and “Where’s Your Nose?”  And the responses you’re looking for are simple too. Eye contact, smiling, and leg kicking are signs of engaged play.

As months roll on, your baby may babble and grab at things in an attempt to start engaging with their world. This may mean building blocks one atop the other, trying to hold their own spoon at mealtime, or grasp  a toy that’s just out of reach. While they may not be able to accomplish these goals, you can help. Add those blocks. Let baby hold one spoon, even if you have to feed them with another. Put that toy a little closer so baby can successfully reach it.

Always be supportive and affectionate. Support your child through the tough times of crying and fussiness, letting them know they are loved no matter what.

One to Two Years

During this time, your baby is really going to start showing some social-emotional skills and intelligence, including the ability to say “no” and to manipulate parents with tears or tantrums.

Your child will recognize their reflection and smile at themselves in a mirror. They imitate your actions and respond to your requests. (The key word is “respond,” not agree!)

In this age range, children begin to show affection to familiar people. They like to show things to people, like their favorite toys. They may show frustration easily and become jealous if they are not the center of attention. They explore independence and want to do some things on their own.

Between one and two years, children are developing an awareness of their own feelings and the feelings of others. From the fussiness to the hugs, it’s all good. They’re trying out the range of human emotions and interactions.

Approaching Pre-School

Between two and three years-old, social-emotional growth becomes more pronounced. Your child will begin to demonstrate empathy and show an awareness of their own feelings and the feelings of others.

You’ll be able to more easily categorize emotional responses, such as fear of the dark, shyness around others, assertiveness, and caring. Moods may shift rapidly, and the “terrible twos” is just a normal stage of development where children bounce between reliance on adults and a new urge for independence. The intersection of the two is where temper tantrums are born.

When to be Concerned

Around the age your toddler is preparing for preschool, you may want to consult with your pediatrician, if your child:

  • Shows little or no interest in play
  • Has no interest in other toddlers and children
  • Cannot share toys or show empathy
  • Their emotions tend toward extremes of fear or aggression
  • Any disruption to a set routing causes extreme upset
  • Shows no desire for independence and cannot be separated from parents

Early Intervention Therapies

If your child seems to have a delay in social-emotional development, there is a great deal of help and many resources you can call upon. Ask your pediatrician about Early Intervention therapies from TEIS Early Intervention.

At TEIS Early Intervention, our therapists listen to your concerns, assess your child’s individual needs, develop a customized treatment plan, and educate you along the way on simple routine based solutions to maximize your child’s development in their natural environment.

Early Intervention evaluations and therapy services are available under the Federal Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities.  Before services can be provided, an independent evaluation of your child must be completed. To assure impartiality, one agency offers evaluation services while another provides the therapeutic services

To learn more, call TEIS Early Intervention at 412-271-8347 or visit our Contact Us page to get help today.