Your Toddler's Brain in Week 95
When you set a basket of toys in front of your child, he probably dumps the toys out, then plays with one a little before moving on to the next.
You know that at this age, your toddler is still working on comprehending disappearance, causality, and categorization. So you may wonder when he'll get the hang of more in-depth play activities—successfully stacking blocks, completing a puzzle, or even correctly putting away all those toys he's dumped onto the playroom floor.
Well, keep your eyes peeled: Any day now, that behavior should appear!
What the Research Shows
In a study designed to trace children's ability to stick with a task and complete it, researchers demonstrated three separate activities: building a tower of blocks, putting four blocks on a doll as if to dress it, and washing a blackboard. Then they asked the toddlers to perform these tasks.
The researchers were interested in the extent to which the children directed and monitored their own behavior and reached the intended "goal," and then whether they stopped once they completed the task.
At 17 months, the children performed the activities, but most needed frequent reminders to complete each action. (Clearly, they had not kept the desired results in mind.)
At 20 months, they set out to complete the tasks but became distracted by the materials. Most ended up playing with them according to their own whims.
At 26 months, the children first showed that they could stick to the tasks until they were finished.
However, only the children who were nearing their third birthdays could consistently demonstrate enough self-control to reach the expected goals and stop once they had been accomplished.