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Milestones: 16-19 Months: Emotional Development

The first six months after your child’s first birthday is a time of rapid and remarkable emotional development. At this age, your toddler is beginning to experience a huge range of emotions in response to more specific events and thoughts. The trouble is that, while 16- to 19-month-old toddlers are experiencing and expressing these new emotions, they\’re not very good at controlling them!

For example, simply preventing a child from reaching out to touch something may be met with a total meltdown lasting more than a few minutes. The challenge is in parents needing to learn how to be patient and not get overly frustrated or angry themselves.

By 16 to 19 months, most toddlers will:

Show spontaneous affection to familiar people like friends, siblings, nannies and teachers, parents, and grandparents

Play simple pretend games, like changing a baby\’s diaper or cooking dinner in a play kitchen

Throw the occasional temper tantrum when they\’re hungry, uncomfortable, or don\’t get their way

Cling to parents and caregivers in unfamiliar situations

Try to get your attention and applause by doing new things

Laugh at silly behavior (wearing socks on your hands, putting a pillow under your feet instead of your head)

Refuse to share their toys, unless coaxed or forced

Play happily by themselves for short periods of time

By 16-19 months, some toddlers will try to:

Explore new places by themselves, but with a parent or caregiver close by

Defy their parents by loudly saying “no” or refusing to cooperate

By 16-19 months, a few toddlers can:

Learn to control their tempers and use their words instead of throwing tantrums

Organize simple games with friends

Happily share their toys (for brief periods of time) with friends and siblings

More in milestones:

16-19 Months: Cognitive Development

16-19 Months: Cognitive Development

Why developmental milestones will make you crazy


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Important Milestones: Your Child at Eighteen Months.
    University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
  • Developmental Milestones: Toddler.
    National Network for Child Care
  • Developmental Milestones: A Guide for Parents, the Second Year.

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