Toddlers (1-3 years)


Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (like crawling, walking, or jumping).

What happens to kids in childhood shapes who they become as adults. Children who are nurtured and supported throughout childhood are more likely to thrive and develop into happy, healthy, and productive adults.

Toddlers 1-2 Years Positive Parenting American SPCC

Toddlers (1-2 years of age)

During the second year, toddlers are moving around more, and are aware of themselves and their surroundings. They show an increasing desire to explore new objects and people.

During this stage, toddlers will show greater independence; begin to show defiant behavior; recognize themselves in pictures or a mirror; and imitate the behavior of others, especially adults and older children.

Toddlers also should be able to recognize the names of familiar people and objects, form simple phrases and sentences, and follow simple instructions and directions. More info @ CDC.

Toddlers (2-3 years of age)

Skills such as taking turns, playing make believe, and kicking a ball, are called developmental milestones.

Because of children’s growing desire to be independent, this stage is often called the “terrible twos.” However, this can be an exciting time for parents and toddlers.

Toddlers will experience significant thinking, learning, social, and emotional changes that will help them explore and make sense of their world.

During this stage, toddlers should be able to follow two- or three-step directions, sort objects by shape and color, imitate the actions of adults and playmates, and express a wide range of emotions.

Toddlers 2-3 Years Positive Parenting American SPCC
Toddlers 1-3 Years Positive Parenting Tips American SPCC

Positive Parenting Tips for Toddlers

  • Set up a special time to read books with your toddler.
  • Encourage your child to take part in pretend play.
  • Play parade or follow the leader with your toddler.
  • Help your child to explore things around them by taking a walk or wagon ride.
  • Encourage your child to tell you his/her name and age.
  • Teach your child simple songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider, or other children’s songs.
  • Give your child attention and praise when she follows instructions and shows positive behavior, and limit attention for defiant behavior like tantrums. Teach your child acceptable ways to show feelings of upset.

Positive Parenting Tips Sheets

Child Safety for Toddlers

Because your child is moving around more, they will be more apt to be involved in an accident. Dangerous situations can happen quickly, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your child. Here are a few tips to help keep your growing toddler safe:

  • Do NOT leave your toddler near or around water (for example, bathtubs, pools, ponds, lakes, whirlpools, or the ocean) without adult supervision. Fence off backyard pools. Drowning is the leading cause of injury and death among this age group.
  • Encourage your toddler to sit when eating and to chew food thoroughly to prevent choking.
  • Check toys often for loose or broken parts.
  • Encourage your toddler not to put pencils or crayons in their mouth when coloring or drawing.
  • Do NOT hold hot drinks while your child is sitting on your lap. Sudden movements can cause a spill and might result in your child being burned.
  • Make sure that your child sits in the back seat and is buckled up properly in a safety approved car seat with a harness.
Toddlers 1-3 Years Child Safety Positive Parenting American SPCC
Toddlers 1-3 Years Healthy Bodies Positive Parenting American SPCC

Healthy Bodies for Toddlers

  • Talk with staff at your child care provider to find out of they serve healthy food and drinks and limit television and other screen time.
  • Your toddler ‘s food preferences might change from day to day. It’s normal behavior, and it’s best not to make an issue of it. Encourage them to try new foods by offering small bites to taste.
  • Keep television sets out of your child’s bedroom. Limit screen time, including video and electronic games, to no more than 1 to 2 hours per day.
  • Encourage free play as much as possible. It helps your toddler develop strength and motor skills.

Join the conversation! Engage and connect on our Positive Parenting forum.

Whether you need advice or have advice to give, our forum is the place to connect with a growing community committed to the care of the next generation.



October 30, 2017

Schizoaffective disorder is a complex combination of schizophrenia and mood disorders, and difficult to diagnose because of overlapping symptoms. Each child’s symptoms are unique and morph over time. A parent must recognize the symptoms and discover how to reduce their impact… and distinguish them from typical troubled child behavior. I raised a teenager with schizoaffective Continue Reading


September 29, 2017

On 4/19/17 I went into labor at 38 weeks, and gave birth to my son Mason. On 4/18/17 at 11:00 pm, I began hemorrhaging and contracting, my husband then rushed me to the hospital, the contractions got closer and closer together and the hemorrhaging continued. When arriving at the hospital I was 10+1 and crowning. Continue Reading

American SPCC Share Your Story - Volunteer for Anti-Bullying


September 25, 2017

I’m a mom of three, doctoral student, and director for an educational software sales company. I got involved with the American SPCC for two reasons. First, I want to be a good role model for my children. I’d like to show them that volunteering for a cause you care about can create a beam of Continue Reading


April 12, 2017

My dad died when I was 2 years old, and my mom got married the second time when I was 4. My step father was an alcoholic. He would beat up my mom, me and my little brother (his son) almost every day. Sometimes he was ok when he wasn’t drunk. But again, if there Continue Reading

Help others by sharing your story of inspiration and hope.

Click for References & Sources

  1. Positive Parenting Information Toddlers 1-2 Years CDC.
  2. Positive Parenting Tip Sheets for Toddlers 1-2 Years CDC.
  3. Positive Parenting Information Toddlers 2-3 Years CDC.
  4. Positive Parenting Tip Sheets for Toddlers 2-3 Years CDC