Around 18 months of age, children will begin showing more independence, such as insisting that they do it themselves. It’s important to understand that your child sees themselves as the centre of the universe. This is not in a selfish way, but in a self-centred way. In other words, they believe everyone is experiencing what they are experiencing; what they know, everyone knows. This happens because, at this age, seeing themselves as a separate being can be a bit scary and confusing.
You may also notice that your child’s moods swing rapidly – between being proud and bold, to whiny and scared, or even to being angry and throwing tantrums. This, too, is part of your child’s struggle for independence.
It’s around this time that children start experiencing the new emotions of pride and shame. Dealing with these emotions can be very tricky, so try to be careful not to make your child feel ashamed of their efforts to do something, even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you expected. For example, feeding themselves is usually pretty messy at this age. But, praise their efforts and soon the neatness will come.
Socially, children will enjoy playing near other children, but not necessarily with them. At this stage, your child isn’t ready for you to teach them to take turns. That comes a little later. In the meantime, provide opportunities to have other children around, but be ready to gently intervene when their lack of sharing skills needs shaping.
Remember, each child is unique. Not all children develop at the same rate in each area, such as movement, communication and relating to others. This information is meant only as a general guide. If you have concerns about your child’s development, you should consult your child’s doctor.