As our kids grow up, we tend to obsess over their development and wonder if they are on a healthy path towards their next social and emotional milestones. But it can be hard to know what “typical” developmental milestones are and what to look for as our kids progress.
The most important thing is that your little one is happy and healthy, and of course, if you’re concerned about their development, you should take them to their pediatrician. We aren’t doctors and we can’t give you medical advice, but we do want to make sure that parents can access resources that help them understand traditional developmental milestones.
Because the COVID-19 pandemic has made such an impact on our lives, and especially the lives of little ones, we want to focus on social-emotional milestones which relate to things like emotions, the ability to connect with others, and a willingness to listen or follow rules. Wondering if your child is on-track? Here’s a crash course in social-emotional milestones, which we’ve summarized from this Early Stages blog post:
By 4 months, most children tend to smile spontaneously or at others. They might copy movements or facial expressions, and they can self soothe for brief periods of time. At this age, babies tend to try to make eye contact with others, especially parents.
By 9 months, most children might be hesitant to interact with strangers and be more comfortable with familiar adults. They may try to play more frequently and independently, and might enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror. You might notice that your 9 month old is responding to the emotions of others, emulating the mood around them.
By 1 year, most children struggle with separation from parents, often resulting in crying. They might hand objects to adults when they want to interact with them, like books or toys. They may be able to assist with tasks like getting dressed or cleaning up by holding out their arm or putting toys in a bin. This age tends to bring a repetitive nature of speech, so they might repeat sounds or actions to get attention.
By 2 years, most children might have temper tantrums or show defiant behavior, often striving for independence. They might show affection to loved ones or even strangers, and probably like to explore alone or with a parent nearby. They may try to include other little ones in play, or struggle to share. Play might include pretending to do things like feeding a doll or cleaning.
By 3 years, most children show a wide range of emotions, including concern for a crying sibling, affection for loved ones, or frustration over a change in routine. They feel confident with independence and might like to dress themselves, play alone, or explore independently. Many kids in this age group like to copy others.
By 4 years, most children like trying new things. Playtime might look like acting as “mom” or “dad” and include cooperation with other children. They might talk about their interests and feelings, and get more creative with make-believe playing. That being said, they cannot often tell the difference between what is real and make-believe.
For a more thorough breakdown of milestones, including age 5 milestones, check out this blog post to learn more. Remember, every kid is different and progresses at their own pace. This list of milestones should serve as a helpful guideline, but not a rigid rulebook. You’re doing great, moms and dads!