Social and Emotional Development in Toddlers: What to Watch Out For



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Category: Children Education

Every parent knows that children develop at their own pace. Some will be early talkers, some early walkers. Some will be potty trained like a pro before they reach their second birthday, while some will take a year or two longer to conquer the milestone.

In the vast majority of cases, despite when these developmental milestones take place, all kids will be talking, walking, and using the toilet like any other person by the time they head off to ‘big school’. However, while pace varies so dramatically in terms of toddler development, there are a few red flags to watch out for, particularly when it comes to social and emotional development. These red flags are usually evident from the age of two upwards. The most important ones are highlighted below.

The child doesn’t show interest in kids his own age

By age two, most toddlers will get a lot of joy out of playing with their peers. This play often involves conflict too, especially considering that kids this age have yet to grasp the concept of sharing. Conflict when playing with others is not a cause for concern and most kids will only really start sharing by the time they turn four. Parents should, instead, take note if their child shows little or no interest in playing with other children. This could be a sign of a social complication that may need addressing. However, it could also merely show that the child is shy and takes a while to warm up to new people.

The child is demanding when it comes to his routines

Most toddlers thrive on routine, and this certainly isn’t indicative of a problem. Having said that, if your child becomes rigid about routine to the point that they cannot function in the event of something changing, it could be worth a trip to see a professional just in case. Do your best to encourage more flexibility by replacing various aspects of their daily routine with pleasant activities, such as going out for ice cream or playing a few fun family games. This should provide insight into how significant the ‘problem’ really is.

The child suffers from extreme separation anxiety

Few children find it easy to separate from their parents. However, it usually gets more manageable as they grow older. If, by the time they turn four, they are still struggling with extreme separation anxiety, then it could be wise to make an appointment with a child psychologist. There may be an emotional issue or the child may simply not be happy in the environment in which he is being left when mum and dad go to work. Establishing the underlying cause of the separation anxiety is essential before trying to help a child learn to cope with it.

If you notice any of the aforementioned red flags in your child, it is not a sure-fire indication that something is amiss. However, it is always worthwhile to bring to your paediatrician’s attention. After all, early intervention is key if there are indeed any problems present.