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Behavior & Thinking

Find out what to look for in your toddler’s actions and activities. His behaviors show you what his mind can do!

Boy with red striped Shirt holding a football in his hand

Your toddler is busy learning and growing! At this age, he is starting to try to solve problems. He understands that different objects have different functions, and he can plan and anticipate things that are going to happen.

Things to look for at this age
  • Trial-and-error problem solving. Your child may try to put a certain shaped block in the wrong shaped hole on a toy. Let him figure out where the shape fits.

  • Using objects for the right purpose. Your child will use a spoon to eat, or put a baby doll to “bed.” Your child is no longer simply exploring toys and objects – she can play and use things in meaningful ways.

  • Using her hands and other objects to reach for things that are out of immediate reach. For example, your child may climb on furniture to get a toy.

  • Looking for things that are hidden or that cannot be seen. Your child will start to remember where things were put and look for them.

  • Imitating actions and sounds that are new. You may even see your child doing things he saw long after he first saw them.

  • Showing fear. Your child may seem shy in new, unknown situations and ask or reach out for mom, dad, or a specific caregiver.

  • Playing peek-a-boo

  • Helping while dressing. Your toddler may put his arm out or in a hole to help when getting his shirt put on.

  • Giving you things she wants (book, toy, etc.) to play and do with you

  • Getting upset. Your toddler may have occasional temper tantrums or behavioral outbursts.

  • Showing affection: hugs, kisses, and cuddles.

  • Playing simple pretend games with common or known things (dolls, utensils, etc.)

  • Wanting to do more things independently

  • Wanting to play with other children

  • Putting things together by size, shape and/or color. Your child can start to match similar objects and images.

  • Have her sort toys by color or put all the triangle blocks in one cup.

  • Building blocks. Your child will use blocks to build and copy things you build. Try having him copy simple block designs like a bridge or tower.

  • Your child’s play becomes more advanced by including multiple steps/activities rather than one repeated act with a toy.

  • Figuring out what’s missing. Your child can help you know when things are missing, or when toys need to be fixed.

  • Knowing what has “more.” Your child will start to recognize – and want – things that have more.

  • Knowing body parts and naming objects. Watch as your child’s language continues to grow at this age.

For more information and videos, click here

QUICK TIP: Remember that every toddler is unique and may develops at different rates. If you're concerned about your child's development in any way, talk to your pediatrician or family doctor.

First 5 California
Contributed by:
First 5 California
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