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What Affects the Psychological Development of a Toddler?

by Amber Keefer, studioD

HealthyChildren.org points out that as a child heads toward toddlerhood and then into her preschool years, her physical growth will begin to slow. This is the time when huge changes occur in a toddler's psychological growth as her cognitive, emotional, intellectual, language and social development take a giant step forward. Psychological growth is an ongoing process that affects a child's self-control, intelligence, emotional well-being and ability to interact with others.

Parent Interaction

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents affect a child's psychological development through direct interaction. Psychological development takes into account the quality of relationships which for a toddler includes the ability to form attachments. Every day interactions contribute to the parent and child building a trusting, loving relationship. However, a parent's own behavior plays a role in the relationship. Responding to your toddler's needs will help him feel safe and secure, leading to a stronger parent-child attachment.

Childhood Imagination

Imaginary play impacts a toddler's overall psychological health by influencing mental processes that affect her behavior. In a 2012 Psychology Today article, "The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development," Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, a cognitive psychologist at NYU, says pretend play contributes to a child developing emotional self-control and empathy -- factors important to her psychological development. Additionally, a child's use of imagination encourages language development, creative thinking and problem solving -- other basic aspects related to healthy psychological development.

Interactive Play

Physical and interactive play has significant roles in a child’s psychological development, as learning to communicate and interact with others is essential to a child's psychological growth. According to educator Dr. Maria Montessori, playing with other children helps a child get used to interacting socially, use his language skills and grow emotionally. An article published by the California Department of Education points out that children need to learn how to develop relationships with others and handle themselves in social situations for healthy development. Play activities also stimulate the connections that nerve cells make in the brain creating new learning pathways for a toddler's cognitive and intellectual growth -- both aspects of a child's psychological development.

Chronic Illness

An article published in "Pediatric Clinics of North America" reports that 10 to 15 percent of children in the United States suffer a chronic illness. Illnesses such as cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome, heart problems, asthma and cancer are just some of the chronic diseases and conditions that can have a psychological effect on a child and interfere with normal stages of development. Pain and other symptoms of illness, frequent hospitalizations and treatment can stress a toddler and make her feel fearful, affecting her coping skills and behavior. Psychological support services can help reduce stress for the child and her family.

About the Author

Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.

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