By now, most children have formed attachments with key members of their whānau.
Toddlers who have a secure attachment are more likely to:
- feel safe and secure
- feel good about themselves
- be learning to regulate their emotions
- be confident to explore
- trust that they can count on others.
They may have other strong relationships too with familiar ‘others’ grandparents, siblings and neighbours.
Autonomy and assertiveness
This second year is an exciting new phase of development. Through this period, children are developing an awareness of themselves as a separate person, and are learning about who they are, from the way their whānau care for them.
One year olds are developing some independence (autonomy) and want to make choices for themselves. They may be assertive about their wants and needs, and may become frustrated easily when things aren’t going well.
Some one year olds will use the word ‘no’ to show their independence, and may test limits. When whānau respond calmly and consistently, they’re modelling behaviours they want their toddler to learn. Parents can be gentle about limits — their child is just learning and may not always cooperate.
Providing independence and support
Whānau can give their tamaiti opportunities to do things independently, like feeding themselves. They still need to be there to help when the child needs it, and help them move on if frustration overwhelms them.
It’s also important that whānau praise their toddler’s efforts, even if they’re not 100% successful.
They’re able to express many emotions and are beginning to understand the emotions of others. For example, they may show concern or cry if they see another child cry. They develop this empathy for others when their whānau have responded to them with love and warmth when they’re upset.
One year olds may still show stranger anxiety and separation distress. Although they want to leave dad or mum’s side to explore, they still need them there as a safe base and will often look to them for reassurance or comfort when things are scary or unfamiliar.
This ‘social referencing’ becomes more complex as children understand more of their parent’s emotional expressions, and use them to guide how they respond to other people and new situations.
Although many one year olds are showing an interest in other toddlers, they’ll generally play alongside them (parallel play) and perhaps copy what they’re doing, rather than play with them (co-operative play). It’s early days yet for their social skills to develop, and they may hit out at other children or poke them.
Whānau can help their pēpi feel safe and secure by having predictable, consistent routines, and letting them know of any changes that are about to happen, like bath time or bed time. Knowing what to expect helps their pēpi feel safe and confident.
Learning to self-soothe
While one year olds may show their whānau they need help to regulate their emotions, they may also calm themselves at times, perhaps by cuddling a favourite blanket, sucking their thumb or returning to their play.
Love and limits
Parents may sometimes find themselves in a dual role. In one role, they’re setting age-appropriate limits for their child. In the other role, they’re helping their child calm down after they’ve had a meltdown due to these limits.
While it may seem easier at times not to put limits in place, this is not helpful in the long-run. Gentle, firm, consistent limits, and comfort and reassurance from dad or mum when their pēpi is upset by the limits, will help them learn
Culture and self-esteem
Connections to their whānau culture will help build healthy self-esteem and will shape a child’s sense of who they are. Parents can sing, read books and tell stories from their culture.
- Most one year olds have formed an attachment with key membersof their whānau.
- They’re becoming more independent and may be easily frustrated.
- They’re developing an awareness of themselves as a separate person, and an awareness of others’ emotions.
- One year olds use social referencing to guide their responses to new people or situations.
- Australian Childhood Foundation’s downloadable booklet Connected parenting, explores a number of important topics about being a parent.
- Baby Centre: Baby development, month by month
- Brainwave Trust: An article by Kate Dent Rennie on The amazing social capabilities of babies: Part 2
- Zero to Three: 12–24 months — Social–emotional development