1–1.5 years old: Social development

1–1.5 years old: Social development

Your toddler’s social development at 13–18 months. Follow your toddler’s milestones step-by-step.

Social development refers to the ability to build harmonious and positive relationships with others. As kids develop socially, they learn how to communicate and manage their emotions, consider other points of view before acting, resolve conflicts, cooperate, and participate in society. A child’s temperament, primarily determined by genetics, influences how they interact with others from an early age. However, they continue to develop social skills as they grow, learning from personal experiences and the people around them—namely, their parents and family members.

Social development: 1–1.5 years old

At this age:

  • Your toddler is starting to understand comedy and enjoys entertaining their loved ones. They repeat behaviour that makes you laugh.
Remember that not all children develop the same skills at the same speed. The material on this website is for general information purposes only. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, speak with a doctor.
  • They feel shy with strangers and don’t want to approach them.
  • They’re beginning to understand other people’s emotions. For example, they might feel sad when they see another child cry.
  • They’re aware of your emotions, especially if you’re feeling anxious.
  • Your toddler prefers to play alone and doesn’t want to share their toys. For example, they might shout “mine!” or fight with another child over a beloved toy.
  • They enjoy pretending to do certain adult tasks, like dusting, mopping, setting the table, or mowing the lawn.
  • Your toddler pushes back against the boundaries you set.
  • They look at you when you speak to or play with them.

Over the next few months, your toddler will begin to do the following:

  • Be cooperative. However, they may sometimes wait before responding to a request or do the opposite of what you asked.
  • Play with some children, but not others.
  • Assert their autonomy. For example, they may try to get dressed and undressed on their own.
  • Learn social behaviour, like how to say “bye” and wave to their educator when they leave the daycare.

How can you help your toddler progress?

Every child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your toddler’s development by adopting the Comfort, Play, and Teach parenting approach, which can easily be integrated into your daily routine. The table below outlines small, age-specific actions you can take that will benefit your toddler’s social development.

When you establish a goodbye routine that all family members follow,
your toddler is reassured and understands that their loved ones eventually come back.
When you let your toddler help with household chores like emptying the laundry basket or putting away groceries,
they enjoy doing grown-up tasks and become more independent.
When you give your toddler frequent opportunities to play with children their own age,
they gradually learn about compromise, an essential part of social life.
When you encourage your toddler to play make-believe by giving them specific toys, such as a doll, blanket, crib, or stroller,
they have fun mimicking your parenting behaviours.
When you practise turn-taking with your toddler during playtime,
they begin to understand what’s expected of them when they play with others.
When you use the words “yes” and “no” to set clear boundaries and calmly explain your decisions,
your toddler learns what’s acceptable and what’s not.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Annie Goulet, psychologist
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: March 2020


Photo: GettyImages/Rawpixel



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  • Doré, Nicole, and Danielle Le Hénaff. From Tiny Tot to Toddler: A practical guide for parents from pregnancy to age two. “Your child’s development.” Quebec City, Institut national de santé publique du Québec. www.inspq.qc.ca
  • Ferland, Francine. Le développement de l’enfant au quotidien : de 0 à 6 ans. 2nd ed., Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2018, 264 pp.
  • Passeport Santé. Bébé à 12 mois : où en est-il 1 an après sa naissance?2017. www.passeportsante.net
  • Canadian Paediatric Society. Caring for Kids. “Your child’s development: What to expect.” www.caringforkids.cps.ca
  • Université de Montréal. “Portail enfance et familles : Les étapes de développement de l’enfant de la naissance à l’adolescence.” www.portailenfance.ca