Content Map Terms

Toddlers' Social and Emotional Development From 18-24 Months


two toddlers playing with a paint set


At this age, your toddler is probably happier playing alongside - rather than with - other children. But it's important to introduce new playmates. Socializing with other children is an excellent way to foster your toddler’s social and emotional development.

Social and Emotional Milestones

An 18 to 24 month old is trying hard to assert independence – expect behaviours that involve the words "no!" and "mine!" At this age, the typical toddler also:

  • Enjoys playing alone for short periods of time. 
  • Acts like she owns certain objects. 
  • Likes to do things without help. 
  • Helps with simple household chores. 
  • Has trouble sharing. May hit, push, and grab to keep toys. 
  • Demonstrates concern for others. 
  • Shows fear, but can be reassured. 
  • Shifts between doing things independently and wanting help or comfort. 
  • Is watchful around adults he doesn’t know. 

Play and Activity

Use everyday routines such as walks and mealtimes to talk about family and friends. This special time not only strengthens your bond – it nurtures and supports your child’s social and emotional growth.

Here are some more tips for helping your child to flourish socially and emotionally:

  • Talk to your toddler ahead of time about new routines and events: "At playgroup, we will sing songs and listen to stories."
  • Introduce your toddler to a playmate. 
  • Watch your toddler while he plays with other children. At this age your toddler will be better at playing on his own. 
  • Talk about the play of other children: "Look, Kim is building a block tower." 
  • Let your toddler help with chores, such as cleaning up spills, placing clothes in drawers, or putting away toys. 
  • Model good manners: use "please" and "thank you." 
  • Continue to breastfeed. 
  • Have fun with your toddler. Laughing together builds good feelings. 
  • Talk about your toddler's emotions: "Your tears tell me you are feeling sad." 
  • Suggest ways to deal with feelings: "When you feel angry, come and get a grown up for help." 
  • Sing simple songs about emotions, such as If You're Happy and You Know It
  • Read stories that explore emotions, and talk about them. 
  • Offer your toddler choices to help her cope with her feelings: "You’re feeling sad, do you want to cuddle or be alone?" 
  • Talk about how others feel: "John is sad because you took his truck." 
  • If your toddler hurts another child, explain: "You cannot hurt others." Redirect your toddler's activity. 

Other Social and Emotional Milestones

Between 18 and 24 months your toddler may also:

  • See herself as a separate person. Your toddler may say, “No, me do it.” 
  • Put on simple clothing without help. 
  • Have mood swings and tantrums. 
  • Show aggressive behaviours such as biting and hitting. 
  • Say "no" a lot, especially if he hears "no" frequently 
  • Sometimes share food, toys, and other items. 
  • Become familiar with routines. 
  • Be unhappy about any changes in routines. 
  • Develop new fears. 
  • Have a security toy or blanket.

Resources & Links:
HealthLink BC: Emotional and Social Development, Ages 12 to 24 Months

Last Updated: April 10, 2013