Sunday, October 21, 2012

Development from age one to two

In the past three weeks we have looked at key markers of development from birth through age one. Our baby has achieved great things: the beginning of independent walking, the beginning of language, and the beginning of being able to take care of himself. Last week I suggested to you that your little man understands a lot of what you say, especially the phrase, “No, no.” This week we will look at how that understanding of ‘no, no’ plays itself out in the development from age one to age two.
First we will look at the markers in social-emotional development. After age one, your toddler wants to have a stuffed animal or doll in bed with him. He gives kisses or hugs and will greet people with a little wave or ‘hi’. Soon he will show sympathy to other children who he sees as hurt or sad by trying to comfort them as he has been comforted. These behaviors do not appear out of the blue. They appear because we have given him a cuddly toy when we put him to bed; we give our little guy lots of hugs and kisses; we look for him when we come into a room and say ‘hi’; and we comfort our baby when he has been hurt. He has had direct experience and he has learned from us. Of course, he also has had direct experience with the meaning of “NO” so it is natural for him to use the phrase when we interfere with his ideas. However, our mostly compliant little guy will usually stop what he is doing when we correct his behavior.
In self-help skills, most of the markers of his developmental progress are in eating. He begins to manage a cup, use a spoon and later a fork, and before age 2 he can eat with a spoon spilling only a little. “No, no” behavior is evident in self-help skills also. He insists on doing things by himself such as feeding and taking off a coat or shirt. One of our tasks as a parent is to organize time and environment so that we can happily let him take the lead.
Gross motor developmental markers center on the evolution from standing to running. He needs to run everywhere at 18 months and we run too or get left behind. By age two he can walk up and down stairs alone. Not only can he do this, he will insist upon doing it by himself, because the assertion of self is a primary force that began with that first little ‘no, no’.
Fine motor developmental markers include stacking blocks, holding two toys in one hand, scribbling with a crayon, and turning pages of picture books one at a time. This is the time to join in his play rather than telling him what or how to play. If you choose to dictate his use of blocks or crayons or books, you will trigger more ‘no, no’ and ‘ME DO’. This dictating behavior on your part will increase his need to assert himself. Instead, use side-by-side play. Enjoy letting him take the lead in knocking your blocks down.
Refining and expanding his communication is the focus of development on the language map. At age one he is using one word, before two he uses at least 10 words. More importantly he uses language to get what he wants. His behavior tells us that he understands far more that he can say. Give him interesting things to observe and talk about. Talk about things in his world and keep your use of ‘no, no’ to a minimum. Next week we’ll watch and be amazed at development from age two to age three.

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The first one said, “My it’s getting late”
The second one said,
“There are witches in the air”
The third one said, “But we don’t care”
The fourth one said, “We’re ready for some fun”
And the fifth one said,
“Let’s run and run and run”
OOoooooo went the wind
And out went the light
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

It is fun to do this by lighting a pumpkin or a pumpkin candle and blowing it out.  An alternate strategy is to clap hands once on the word out while having someone turn the lights out.