Your toddler is becoming increasingly aware of “self” as a separate person, with power and limitations. He is struggling to be independent and control other people. As he goes about this task of defining self and establishing exactly what that means, he will experience many abrupt emotional changes – swinging from wails of laughter one minute to screams of anger the next.
During this period, your child will become demonstratively affectionate. You will be the honored recipient of many kisses and hugs as your child explores the good feelings that come from physical contact.<
Your baby continues to respond to praise. He enjoys applause and will repeat any performance that elicits response. It is your smiles, applause, and praise that encourage him to practice his new skills until he reaches mastery.
You will also see the onset of negativism as he becomes willful, stubborn, and hardheaded. He will demand a great deal of personal attention and will throw things when he is angry. Narcissism is at its peak now and brings with it many new feelings, including jealousy, self-confidence, anxiety, pride, and frustration.
Along with these new emotions comes the ability to express them in more subtle or indirect ways. Your child will go through phases in which he will be clingy in the morning and very independent in the afternoon. He may develop a fear of anything new. He may have difficulty sleeping. And he may have periods of regression in which he acts like a younger baby.
You can meet your child’s emotional needs by taking time for lots of holding and touching. Your child notices how you show affection to him, your spouse, his siblings, and others, and he will learn to express his emotions by imitating you.