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These are the words every parent waits to hear -- and the first time your child tells you she loves you is unforgettable. It usually happens sometime between 18 and 24 months, although at first your child may just be mimicking your own words. But eventually she'll come to understand what the words mean from the warm smile and voice you use when you say it to the way your face lights up when she says it to you. Once your child grasps the concept of love, introduce him to other feelings like happy, sad, and angry. The more a toddler can label his feelings, the more he'll learn to express and manage them. For example, if he starts crying when you turn off the TV, you might say, "I know you're sad because you'd like to watch another show, but you'll be happy when we get to the park and see our friends." --Leslie Gross Klaff
Copyright 2007. Used with permission from the December 2007 issue of Parents magazine. Updated 2009
The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.