Great transformations are underway and others are only just beginning when the children are in their first year. They are in the process of learning to walk or have only recently done so, and this means that they are in the midst of conquering the world. Before things had to come to them, now they can move and take possession of things. They begin a long and slow journey towards autonomy. They no longer always wait, or simply attend, they can now move, catch, grab, reach, and in that practice, they create new facts, new relationships, new senses. One way of saying it is that they consolidate the appropriation of the world with the exploration and manipulation of new and varied objects.
Another evolution is focused on the changes they make to transform from ‘spectators’ to ‘executors’. They begin to coordinate their two hands, which enables them to ‘be able to do- and -resolve’. Coordinating them means enormous power because each hand can fulfill a different role, which makes life incredibly easy. Organizing the hands in action sequences, leaning on one hand, to knock down an obstacle with the other and manage to approach to grasp the object accurately, something that shortly before represented several failed attempts and correction processes until achieving their purpose, are now important steps on the way to sequentially organize actions in the world. Children discover that to achieve a goal they need to perform several steps, use different means, and this is the achievement of the ‘power to do’ skills. Regarding the coordination of the two hands, caregivers and parents must be sensitive to the difficulties they must overcome when they do not coordinate them.
This conjugation of the two hands that can fulfill different roles opens the universe to endless activities that reveal a thousand new realities. This is how the first-year advanced, the things they can do with them increase considerably. They can ‘screw’ lids on the jars, hold the drum with one hand and hit it with the other, producing the param-pampan, with both hands they assemble an object, take the spoon and bring it to their mouth in an almost perfect way and thus, countless executions that demonstrate his new conquests.
We have all seen that when they begin to take their first steps, children entertain themselves for a while walking to the adult, handing them objects, then they ask for them and return them. Those games of delivering and returning objects become repetitive but do not bore you. They are active participants, who give and receive, as subjects who act on their environment. Kicking a ball when mastering walking is a splendid experience, it is a new ‘knowing’ and a better ‘doing’. When their mother, father, or caregiver accompany them, taking them by the hand and facilitating this coordination while walking, the game of kicking the ball becomes a real adventure, although there are some who want to “try it alone.”
All these conquests together constitute the transformation of the baby to the child. Children are empowered to start a path towards new forms of ‘doing’ that give them an unknown capacity until then, which is to act for themselves, to reach objects with their movements, to sequentially carry out and distribute steps in tasks to achieve goals. These new challenges require a different disposition on the part of the caregivers. They too must move from a protective attitude to one that gradually allows them greater autonomy.
On the path of autonomy, children move towards independence. As they approach two years of age, they become more interested in doing things for themselves and sometimes refuse to receive help from their caregivers. This sense of autonomy shows the confidence they have in themselves and their abilities. Between the ages of two and three, they seek to do many things on their own and risk making decisions, although they still need support. Often they do not accept the help of an adult just to be able to try something until they finally succeed, but other times they give up and ask for it insistently.
Similarly, they experience extreme changes in relationships with others as they try to do things for themselves. For example, after putting on the jacket without the collaboration of their caregiver, the child may be happy and proudly say “I did it.” A minute later he feels very sad and cries because he couldn’t close it. When the caregiver starts helping him, he says “I can.”
On the other hand, most two-year-olds relate better to one of their two parents. For example, they may want only the mother or father to help them dress, or play with them. This can be difficult for parents because they want to do things only with mom and mom is tired of trying to meet all the child’s needs while dad may feel unloved or left out. At the same time, children can be very possessive of their mother, father, siblings, or caregivers. For example, a child may say to his little brother, “You cannot speak to him, he is my daddy.”
This is a period of many and varied transitions such as getting dressed, finishing the game and going to bed. They can be demanding, sometimes aggressive, pushing, or hitting to get what they want. Frustration tantrums can appear between two and three years. Many times they really don’t know why they are fearful, but they do know that they want to avoid some things, like being alone or staying in the dark. At the same time it is observed that in the face of all these transitions, they strive to control their sudden tantrums and to start carrying out activities that give them security and satisfaction. They are very interested in controlling their emotions because emotional regulation allows them to achieve greater autonomy in their social relationships.