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Children's Health

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Growth and Development, Ages 12 to 24 Months - Promoting Healthy Growth and Development

Social and emotional development

Promote your child's social and emotional development by:

  • Spending time with him or her. Make an extra effort to sit and play, read, and talk to your child. Don't worry too much about having "play dates" and organized activities for your child between the first and second birthdays. Children this age don't interact much with each other. Rather, they tend to play alone but near each other, a behavior called "parallel play." Your love and attention are the most important factors that help your child's social and emotional growth.
  • Knowing about your child's individual temperament. Every child is different. Getting to know your child's personality helps you to predict and handle his or her reactions to everyday situations.
  • Praising your child. When your child reacts well to a difficult situation, such as leaving the park without protest, tell him or her how proud you are. Although your child may not understand the exact meaning of your words, he or she will associate the positive behavior with your approval.
  • Not responding to angry outbursts. When you react to a child's temper tantrum or similar behavior, it is more likely to continue. Unless your child's behavior is dangerous, ignore it (but stay nearby and soothe your child as needed). After the outburst is over, you can talk to your child calmly and reassure him or her that everything is okay. It is very important that you do not get angry or threaten to spank or hurt your child. Staying calm can sometimes be difficult. Keep in mind that you are the model for your child's behavior.

Sensory and motor skills

Promote your child's sensory and motor skills by:

  • Providing safe opportunities for exploration. Play games that encourage walking and movement, and go outside when possible. For example, help your child walk around the yard with push toys, such as play lawn mowers or bubble poppers. Play chase and race in areas that allow "soft landings."
  • Helping him or her to climb stairs. Keep a secure hold on your child as the two of you go up and down stairs together.
  • Letting him or her feel different textures. Find items that let your child safely explore the concepts of soft, hard, fuzzy, wet, dry, cold, and warm.
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