Toddler Development: 15 to 18 Months

Between 15 and 18 months, your toddler will make large leaps as he takes in the sights and sounds around him. A careful observer, he’ll study things closely, imitate people around him, and eventually understand that a separation from you isn’t forever. His intense curiosity about the world coupled with his developing motor skills creates potential hazards, so be sure to keep your house toddler-proof.

At this age, your toddler will alternate between fierce independence and clingy behavior. His extreme self-centeredness makes it hard for him to accept anything but the spotlight. Sharing is a foreign concept, and possessiveness over toys is common. But rest assured, your toddler is constantly learning. Here’s what you can do to encourage your child’s healthy development:

Watch your own behavior

Imitation is a major part of learning and behavior. At this age, your toddler is a master imitator, who is learning by mimicking what you do. Be careful of what you say and do since he’s apt to repeat it. Now is a good time to start spelling out what you don’t want his ears to hear!

Create short separations

Some toddlers still experience separation anxiety at this age, but are slowly becoming less anxious about being apart from their parents. Over time, brief separations may actually help your toddler become more independent. Always let your toddler know you are going out -- never sneak out -- and tell him that you’ll be back. Knowing you’ll return puts his mind at ease.  

Allow special toys

Many toddlers this age are very possessive about what belongs to them. Because your child may be territorial, it can help to set aside some special toys that are just his and are off-limits to others. Having these toys will help him feel more in control of his world.

Ban physical attacks

Toddlers this age don’t know how to control their angry impulses and are apt to lash out at other kids by hitting them. Control the combativeness by interfering and firmly stating, “Don’t hit.” Then redirect the play to something positive.

Applaud what you like

When toddlers this age do something special, they’re apt to pause and look to see if you notice. If you do, make sure to shower your toddler with praise. Your enthusiastic support will encourage your child to keep learning -- and to let you know what he’s learned!