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What To Expect From Your Toddler

A few things you can expect to come across when you have a toddler. Educating yourself on child development helps both you and your child, so take a look! HDFS 301 Adrianna Domanico

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Imagination and make-believe play

Make-believe play is a crucial component of developing children’s cognitive and social skills. Piaget believed that through pretending, young children practice and strengthen newly acquired representational schemes (Berk, p.319). It’s important to allow your child to explore their creative side, whether is be wearing an Abercrombie bag or not. Their choice!

Cognitive/Brain Development

At the rear and base of the brain is the cerebellum, a structure that aids in balance and control of body movement. Fibers that link the cerebellum to the cerebral cortex grow and myelinate from birth to preschool years. So you can expect your toddler to have less than perfect coordination (Berk, p.294).

Attachment Security

A child with secure attachment uses parents as a secure base from which they can explore an unknown area. When separated from the parent, the child may or may not cry. If the child does cry it is because they prefer the parent opposed to what they are being confronted with. When the parent returns, they actively seek contact, and their crying and anxiety is immediately reduced (Berk, p. 266).


Older toddlers who have experienced sensitive caregiving and emotionally available parents draw on their advancing cognitive, language, and social skills to express first signs of empathy. Your toddler will increasingly learn to appreciate others’ intentions, feelings, and desires (Berk, p. 282).

The Arrival of a New Sibling

The arrival of a baby brother or sister is a difficult experience for most young children. Showing maternal warmth towards the new infant and your toddler assures the older sibling of continuing parental love, models affectionate caring, and is related to positive sibling interaction. So don’t worry if your toddler isn’t thrilled with the idea of a new sibling, they will warm up (Berk, p. 277).

Change in Attention Span and Temperament

Young children have very short attention spans. The overall stability of your child’s temperament will be low in infancy and toddlerhood and only moderate from the preschool years on. Some children remain the same but many others change (Berk, p. 257).


If you were to ask a toddler to tell you about themselves they would most likely state characteristics such as their name, physical appearance, possessions, and everyday behaviors. It is not until age three and a half that children will be able to describe themselves in terms of typical emotions and attitudes (Berk, p. 365).

Emotional Self-regulation

By age 3 children verbalize a variety of strategies for adjusting their emotional arousal to a more comfortable level. As children grow up they will be able to engage in effortful control, inhibiting impulses and shifting attention, helping them communicate positive feelings and inhibit bad ones. But for now, your toddler might need a little extra help keeping their emotions under control (Berk, p.369).


Like effortful control in general, young children’s capacity to delay gratification is influenced by both temperament and quality of caregiving. Between ages one and a half and three, children show an increasing capacity to wait before eating a treat, opening a present, or playing with a toy. Toddlers who experience parental warmth and gentle encouragement typically are more cooperative and resist temptation easier (Berk, p. 283).

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