1.5–2 years old: Social development

1.5–2 years old: Social development

Your toddler’s social development at 19–24 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: 1.5–2 years old

At this age:

  • Your toddler is becoming attached to people other than their parents. They’re gradually experiencing less separation anxiety.
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 like to play alone. For example, they may enjoy building blocks, drawing, or flipping through books.
  • They’re possessive of certain objects.
  • They enjoy being near other children but don’t necessarily want to play with them.
  • They feel intense anger, frustration, guilt, shame, and excitement, and may throw tantrums.
  • They say “no” and prefer to do things alone.
  • They help with simple household tasks.

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

  • Understand that they’re a separate individual and see themselves in relation to others, which will help them develop empathy.
  • Become potty trained.
  • Learn to take off simple items of clothing without help.
Find out how to support your child’s social development through books. (In French)

How can you help your child progress?

Each 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 talk to your toddler about family members and friends during your daily activities (e.g., on a walk, at mealtime),
they start to learn how to have conversations and describe the people around them.
When you offer suggestions but ultimately let your toddler make the decisions during playtime,
they feel empowered and want you to celebrate their efforts.
When you show your toddler photos of family members and say each person’s name,
your toddler starts to recognize these faces, learn their names, and understand their relationship to them.
When your toddler plays water games with friends, using toys like sponges, dolls, and towels,
they develop and practise social skills like sharing and waiting their turn.
When you prepare your toddler for an upcoming activity—for instance, by saying, “We’re going to the park. We’ll go down the slide and play in the sandbox,”—
they learn to anticipate events and handle new situations.
When your toddler helps with household chores, cleans up their own mess, or puts away their clothes,
they discover what they’re capable of while participating in home life.


Naître et grandir

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


Photo: GettyImages/PeopleImages



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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. “Développement de l’enfant à 18 mois : bébé apprend la propreté.” 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