Toddler: Self-Awareness

Posted by Nate McCallister on December 3, 2015
Toddler looking in mirror touching cheek.

Self-awareness is an important part of social emotional development for toddlers. Healthy relationships are the cornerstone for progress in this domain. At this stage, toddlers become aware that they are separate form others, begin to identify feelings, and gain confidence in increased abilities.


Age: 18 months to 36 months
Domain: Social Emotional Development
Sub-domain: Self-Awareness


Progress and Support

Toddlers show progress when they

  • touch body parts seen only through the reflection while looking in the mirror,
  • begin to use the words “I” and “me,”
  • say “mine”,
  • recognize own feelings by saying things like “I’m sad” and “I’m happy.”

You support development when you

  • verbalize the feelings a toddler may have as you notice them smile, laugh, or frown,
  • allow children to keep possessions in a special place: art work in a cubbie for example,
  • recognize children’s attempts to discover their own gender, hair color, etc. (“That’s right, you are a boy.”)

Resources: Minnesota’s early childhood indicators of progress, 2007

Author: Nate McCallister

Nate McCallister started with SonShine Learning Center in 2003 as a preschool teacher. Today, he works as the organization’s director of operations and is the site director at the Luther location. He earned a bachelor’s degree in technical communication and professional writing from Metropolitan State University and studied early childhood education at St. Paul College.