Brain Development—The Second Year



Photo: @freestylemama


Brain Development—The Second Year

The first three years of life are a critical time for brain development, but sometimes we as parents can be at a loss as to how to help and challenge our little ones as they grow. Once your little one turns a year old, he is walking—or close to it. This opens up his world as he is able to get around on his own and test the boundaries of his life. Below we are sharing some ways that you can assist in your little one’s development during the second year (12-24 months).

12-18 Months

On top of becoming more mobile, your little one is also learning how to communicate his wants and needs. During this stage, it’s very important for you to give him enough room to learn on his own. Of course you’ll still be needed for most things, but allowing your guy to explore with some freedom will help him understand independence.

You can assist by teaching him the words he is looking for in situations. For example, he whines when he is thirsty and reaches for his cup. Teach him a word like thirsty, drink or water so that he knows when he says (or tries to say!) a word, there is a specific outcome.

The whiney stage before speaking well can be difficult, but your reactions are building the groundwork for your long-term relationship. Be patient and understand how frustrating it is for your little one to know what he wants without knowing how to communicate it.

You may notice him beginning to engage in pretend play. For example, pretending to pick up a telephone or pretending to feed one of his toys. This is very important for his brain development. Creativity like pretend play helps him to see things in different ways and understand ideas vs. concrete things he can see and touch.

18-24 Months

During the 12-18 month period, you probably watched your little one transition from being a baby to a toddler. We know it’s hard to believe, but yes, you officially have a toddler! One of the most remarkable parts of the 18-24 month stage is the rapid growth in vocabulary. Your toddler is beginning to put words together and understand their relation to one another. You can help by giving him more words to use. For example, if he says “read book” you can ask him to pick out a book he wants to read. Once you have a book, you can describe what it’s about, “Oh, you want to read your book about the ten little dinosaurs!” There are things he will say that don’t sound quite like the word he is trying to use. Repeat the word he is trying to say and before you know it, his language skills will be improving.

It’s important to understand that your little one doesn’t yet understand consequences completely. You can aid in this two ways: first by being patient, and second by being consistent. This means that if you threaten a certain discipline the “next time” he does something, you must follow through on what you said you would do. It may be time out or taking a toy away, but following through is important. It will take time, but eventually he will connect the consequences to certain actions.

Something else about this stage . . . your little one never stops moving! He is perfecting his walking skills and has probably starting running everywhere. Go for walks outside and plan outings in which he can stretch his legs. Turn activity into learning by describing things that catch his eye or pointing out things that don’t. Describe sizes, colors, smells and relationships of things around you.

Remember, your little one is depending on you not only to help him, but also to challenge his development. Being there for him now will provide lifelong benefits for his brain development. As always, we are here to be of support to you. Please contact us anytime