“I’m My Own Person!”
Your toddler’s discovery of independence is a thrilling time.
The drive to autonomy encompasses the body, mind, and emotions. Your toddler will be enthralled to discover and exert his newfound control.
Body: Your child rapidly gains appreciation of his body as the wonderful contraption that gets him to all the new and interesting places and things he wants to find out about. Expect him to explore himself along with everything else. Add to this his maturing awareness that he is a separate being — not an extension of you — and you can practically hear him marvel that his body is "mine, all mine!"
Mind: The discovery of independence goes hand in hand with the independent spirit — wanting to do what she wants, do it her way, and do it by herself. This is a crucial period in the development of self-esteem and respect for others.
Emotions: This period sees the beginnings of emotional control. Yet learning and discovery pull at your toddler, pitting the thrill of success against the agony of frustration. Through it all, the emotional underpinnings of learning will be strengthened or weakened. Either way, the lesson will have long-term implications for the drive to discover and learn.
In terms of behavior, your toddler starts off with a new but immature interest in controlling himself. His limit-testing behavior is more about who he is apart from his parents, as opposed to seeing who is boss. He is learning to handle some of the simple routines of everyday life, like forks and spoons, and choosing an occasional favorite item of clothing. He even can begin to share a little, but usually not for long.
Emotionally, toddlers begin this era fluctuating between growing independence and wanting to be a baby again. They can be very loving to the people around, patting and kissing faces or stroking hair (mimicking the affections they appreciate). They can mirror Mom's and Dad's feeling with amazing accuracy.
By the time she turns three, your child will be able to control most of her own behavior, and her baby-longings will be less frequent. She will be able to tell her parents a lot about her world, be much more able to share, and be more respectful and caring of others. She will be able to get dressed by herself fairly reliably. In short, it is a breathless 18 months of growth in the evolution of a person.