social & Emotional Development

Toddlerhood (1-2)

Signs of Socio-Emotional Growth

  • babies must have basic & physical needs met before any other needs can be met
  • children need a stimulating environment to promote learning
  • need to feel love and affection
  • toddlers just like any other person need to be talked to, listened to and interacted with on many different levels.
  • Erikson described the next stage as autonomy vs. shame and doubt as this stage toddlers see themselves separate from their caregivers, without feeling embarrassment or uncertainty

Relationships with Caregivers and Family

  • the trust they develop helps in the long run.
  • the relationships with others become much more reciprocal with others.
  • caregivers respond to how toddlers behave and give commands.
  • "Dont touch" , "Hot!" and "time for night-night" are common phrases caregivers use when guiding toddlers.
  • toddlers are becoming more independent, singing songs, playing games help develop more essential parts of family relationships.


  • toddlers get more emotionally sensitive than before around age 2 (react to everything, easily excited, upset, scared, sensitive towards others)

  • are aware of how adults and other toddlers are feeling even when emotions are not expressed (may have similar emotional response, ex. if one toddler is crying around other toddlers, then the other toddlers will start crying as well)

  • affectionate to everything (caregivers, family, pets, inanimate objects)

  • will demonstrate separation anxiety more often, and will continue through the preschool years

  • will have anxiety due to the combo of heightened emotions and an active imagination (ex. if he/she is afraid of the dark, then their imagination will create negative images about the dark, like “monsters” or scary shadows)

  • become more aware of situations, people and stories which give them more reasons to be scared of most things and could possibly turn into nightmares

  • will express their emotions physically and verbally

  • may become upset if an activity ends and they were not done, and will react by yelling, stomping, crying, or even laying on the floor, public or not. (all known as temper tantrums)

  • temper tantrums are normal but may cause frustration to toddle and caregiver

Cultural Influences

  • toddlers take more time and energy than parents realize
  • parents learn there parenting practices from their own experience as a child, from family and from larger culture
  • most questions that parents have they can find online
  • children need two- way interactions with their caregivers
  • there are a variety of different ways to nurture young children the most essential characteristics of caregivers and family members is to love and cherish their toddler

Developmentally Appropriate Guidance Techiniques

  • more aware of their surroundings and people close to them

  • toddlers want to exert their autonomy and independence, causing them to go into the “no” phase

  • acknowledging their frustration helps toddlers understand more

  • giving the toddler options helps them experience independence (ex. asking them which shirt they want to wear, what food they want to eat)

  • a caregiver’s response to frustration should be as consistent as possible

  • will mature more throughout their preschool years


  • Physical coordination, cognitive development, and socio-emotional growth are all associated with play.

  • Toddlers need to play

  • Parallel play- playing with another, with little interaction


Lifespan Development Book

pages 130-135