Co-ordination in toddlers
By the time he's a year old he'll be able to pick up something quite small, such as a button, between thumb and forefinger. If you take a pencil or crayon and make marks on a piece of paper he will take the pencil when offered it, and will try to imitate the marks that you have made.
By about 13 months your baby will have learnt to hold more than one object in his hand. Co-ordination will also be improving so if you show him how to build a tower of blocks he'll follow your example, putting one block on top of another. He'll start to remove items of clothing (see Choosing Clothes), and will love pulling around a toy on a string, hammering pegs through holes and fitting different shapes into the appropriate openings. He'll be able to feed himself without any help and without making too much mess by the time he's 15 months old. He will attempt to brush his hair if shown and will be keen to help you around the house.
New accomplishments in toddlers
By the time he is 18 months old your toddler will be able to build a tower of blocks, four or five high, and turn over the pages of a book, probably two or three pages at a time. By the time your child is two years old his hands will be very well co-ordinated and he'll manage the complex movement of twisting something round in his hands so he can open a door by turning the doorknob and unscrew a loose cap from a jar. Washing and drying the hands will be a favourite pastime and two-year-olds usually start making their first attempts to dress and undress themselves. They can usually manage things like putting on their shoes but probably need help with their socks.
Always remember that your child will proceed at his own pace and that he cannot develop muscular co-ordination faster than the brain and nervous system are developing; no two children develop at the same rate. Don't make the mistake of expecting more from your child than he is capable of. He has a tremendous desire to please and if you constantly set your goals higher than he's naturally capable of reaching he will then feel demoralized because he has let you down. Worse still, he may become resentful and frustrated if he aspires to do things that are more complicated than his body allows. Your role is to help and encourage your child, not to set unachievable goals.
Skills to master in toddlers
By the time your child is three years old he'll probably be able to do the following:
- Build a tower of blocks, up to eight or nine blocks high.
- He'll continue to dress and undress himself with increasing skill.
- He'll undo buttons within easy reach but may not be able to do them up.
- He'll help with any household task or chore that you suggest and will love playing games that imitate the kind of jobs that you do whether it's mending something or doing the washing up.
- He'll be capable of carrying plates and dishes to the table, and will be a much more co-operative member of the family.
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