Your child enjoys more structured play and activities now and will be
much more achievement-oriented because she craves your approval.
Your positive regard will, in turn, help her to develop self-esteem.
Tuning in to others
Now that your child can empathize with others, she will also start to
develop her ability to understand that someone else may see things
differently than her. This is an important and necessary part of learning
to develop friendships and later social relationships. Psychologists call
it “theory of mind.” It is the skill that enables us to learn to empathize
with, understand, and predict the behavior of others.
Your child starts to understand that she is a separate person with
separate thoughts when she develops the ability to share attention with
another person; for example, when she understands that someone else
is sharing her interest by looking in the same direction and pointing
(see page 217). This leads to her developing a more sophisticated
understanding of the mental state (thoughts and feelings) of others, which
coincides with her becoming more concerned with the feelings of others
and more aware of her own behavior.
She may begin to ask lots of “Why?” questions as she tries to make
sense of the world. During year 3–4, she will progress from being able
to hold two different perspectives, but only one at a time, to being able
to hold in mind two (or more) perspectives simultaneously. This skill is
encouraged each time you help your child share with others and explain
Thankfully, year 3–4 can sometimes feel like the calm after
the storm for parents. Your toddler will still be having
tantrums and testing limits, but with her newfound
understanding of what’s right and what’s not, she will be
eager to do things correctly in order to win your approval.
What toddlers want
2 5 6
3 - 4 Y E A R S
Fiona, age 31
W H A T T O D D L E R S W A N T A N D N E E D
2 5 7
AN AWARENESS OF OTHERS Your child will now understand how his behavior affects the people around him and he
will generally be more settled in the company of others.