Developmental milestones, such as taking turns, imaginative play, toileting skills, self feeding, cooperating with others and physical activities, are skills that most children can achieve by a certain age. Children tend to gradually reach milestones in communication, learning, gross motor, and fine motor activities. Every child is different, and every child will learn things at different times but it is always good to know about developmental milestones so you can monitor your child’s development. We are going to skip over the very early years and start with the toddler years...get ready, it’s going to be a fun couple of years!
Developmental Milestones 2 yrs. - 3 yrs. This is the stage where little ones become tiny tornados of emotions and milestones. But don't worry, we're here to help you navigate all the exciting changes that come with it. Let’s look at developmental milestones in toddlers, understanding these and utilizing positive parenting strategies to help you get through the day.
This stage can be challenging as children have a growing desire for independence. It is also an exciting time for both caregivers and toddlers. Toddlers experience significant changes in thinking, learning, social interaction, emotional development and a desire to be independent. During this stage, toddlers should be able to follow two- or three-step directions, sort objects by shape and color, imitate adults and playmates, and express a range of emotions. As they get closer to the 3-year mark, they may be able to stay dry on most days with no diaper but are probably still wearing an overnight pull-up. They are eating all solid foods and can feed themselves with their fingers. They are starting to feed themselves with child size spoons and forks (some may be very independent with this while others may be still working on it). Selective and picky eating should be expected during this time...they are easily distracted and are trying to exert some control over what they put in their mouths.
Here are some positive parenting tips to help the little ones during this stage:
Encourage your child to participate in pretend play. This is a good way to introduce skills you want to teach them in real life (e.g., dolls on the potty, making dinner, sitting nicely in the car, cooperating when asked to do things).
Play games like parade or follow the leader with your toddler, this will help them practice imitation of others and being aware of their surroundings.
Take your child on a walk or wagon ride to explore the world around them. While you are walking label things you see. Talk about the colour and the importance of each item you encounter. Ask them simple questions about different items. Keep it enjoyable, and light.
Teach your child to say their name and age. Practice writing it for them to see in text form or use magnetic letters to spell it out.
Teach your child simple songs that align with your culture, songs with actions are always a fun way to learn.
Give your child attention and praise when they demonstrate cooperation and follow instructions.
Limit attention when they don’t cooperate or when they are really struggling with cooperating. Reassure them and tell them they are loved. But hold your boundaries. You want them to know that they are safe, they are loved but tantrums do not result in things going their way.
Teach your child acceptable ways to express their upset feelings. Make sure to do this when they are not already upset. Read books about emotions, engage in play activities that involve emotions. It is during these times that they will be able to listen and begin to process the information.
Involve them in some choices for mealtimes, get them involved in the kitchen, and create some balance around what goes on their plate.
Keep in mind that some days they will be hungrier than others so don’t expect the same consumption from day to day and always take into consideration how much they have eaten across the whole day (they may eat a big lunch so if they aren’t that hungry at dinner it’s ok).
Avoid making a different meal for everyone in the family – your toddler (like everyone else) can choose how much of the food to eat but they don’t always get to choose what is for dinner.
Talk about the toilet, get them a step and a seat so they can use the big toilet, start to teach them how to clean themselves after voiding.
Routines, Routines, Routines! Your toddler needs predictability to build skills (and avoid meltdowns) so try your best to be consistent with your routines. By this we mean, morning routines, after daycare routine, mealtime routine, toileting routine, bedtime routine.
Find a balance between adult led and child led activities or steps within an activity. But remember this is a BALANCE not always child led. Begin to teach them that sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do. Help them and comfort them but hold your boundaries.
Remember, all children develop at different times. If you are concerned about your child’s development talk to your family doctor, your friends and/or other caregivers in your child’s life. As a parent or primary caregiver, you know them best!
If you have been to your doctor and you are seeking support for building some skills in toileting, mealtimes & feeding, social communication & play connect with us at Children’s Wellness Centre. We provide individualized services to children and caregivers who are looking to learn, grow and thrive in all areas of wellbeing.