Between 18 months and 3 years of age, the young child rapidly gains language skills and begins to demand increased autonomy. Nurses can help parents learn what behaviors to expect and how to effectively manage behavioral issues. Child safety is an extremely important area to teach parents of toddlers. Young parents may be unaware of safety hazards and may need help in learning ways to childproof their home. Toilet training also occurs at this age. By teaching various ways to toilet train, and by continuing to emphasize individual rates of development, nurses can help parents toilet train children with realistic expectations and lessened stress. Although toddlers are unable to reason and may take many things literally, they are capable of some degree of understanding when they have medical tests or procedures. The nurse’s approach to the toddler should be calm, warm, and matter of fact.
Planning health teaching for an infant and toddler is primarily directed toward the parents. As separation from parents often causes anxiety, parents should be included in patient care whenever possible. It is helpful for one nurse to establish a relationship with the child and family and to be consistently involved with learning activities. Reading stories and involving the young child using pictures, dolls, and puppets can stimulate learning. Because young children have no real sense of time, health teaching must occur in close proximity to the time of any event to which the teaching relates. Children this age have a very limited ability to attend to information, so plan teaching in very brief (two- to five-minute) sessions.