National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation

Toddlers Ages Twelve to Eighteen Months

Social and Emotional Milestones Examples of Typical Social and Emotional Development Examples of Risk Factors for Potential Social and Emotional Concerns
Social Development-Attachment:
  • Imitates adult behaviors
  • Seeks out others to do things for them
  • Is curious about people.
  • Smiles/plays with self in mirror
  • Jaymin’s (13 months) teacher hands each child a banana for snack. Jaymin goes to the teacher and takes her hand and pulls her to the play kitchen area. Jaymin says to the teacher “baba” to look for the toy banana. His teacher says, “Wow! You are looking for a banana!” They look for the toy banana in the kitchen cabinet. The teacher finds a toy orange and a banana and holds both fruits up. The teacher shows Jaymin both fruits and asks him “Is this the banana?” Jaymin says “no” and points to the correct fruit. The teacher says “That is the banana, Jaymin. Let’s eat our bananas at the table.”
  • Molly (eighteen months) climbs up the steps on the play structure in her classroom and stops and waves at Jillian before she goes down the slide. At the top of the platform, Molly notices herself in the mirror. She stops to look at herself and laughs. Jillian climbs up the steps and joins Molly at the mirror; both laugh as they look in the mirror.
  • When Toby (1 ½ months) first arrives at the child care center, his caregiver notes that his skin is pale, splotchy, and clammy. When his mother comes in to pick him up, he does not respond to her voice, nor does he attempt to make eye contact or maintain a mutual gaze with his mother or his caregiver.
Emotional Development-Self-Regulation:
  • Uses familiar adults as a secure base when exploring environments
  • Shows strong sense of self by telling others what to do (e.g., “You eat!”)
  • Shows affection for familiar persons by giving hugs, smiles, kisses, etc.
  • Reacts to changes in daily routine
  • During group time, Markieta (14 months) plays with a small group of children. When a new child or unfamiliar adult enters the area, she looks back at her father to make sure he is still there. When Cody (13 months) picks up the toy Markieta was playing with, she shouts, “No,” then moves toward the child and is about to bite him when a caregiver intervenes and says, “Markieta, I know you are upset because you were playing with that toy. Let’s find another toy so you and Cody can both play.”
  • At the end of the day, Joel’s (16 months) grandmother comes to pick him up. When she walks into the room, he smiles and runs to her and hugs her legs.
  • Three-month-old Chandra has been attending child care for over a month, but has no regular sleep patterns. When she does sleep, her body often jerks and she wakes up screaming and cannot be calmed or comforted by her primary caregiver. When her caregiver attempts to rock her, swaddle her, or give her something to suck on, she resists and continues to cry in a loud, unregulated manner.




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Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development National Center for Effective Mental Health Consultation