Does your toddler have a best friend? Does he constantly gush over hisnew best buddy? (which is, quite possibly, the cutest thing ever)? While researchers used to believe toddlers from 1 to 3 years of age were incapable of developing friendships, recent studies have changed the way experts view child-to-child interaction. Sowhen a toddler says someone is their best friend, it could mean a lot more than you thought.
By this point, your toddler has likely grown out of "parallel play," which is the act of two toddlers (usually 2 to 3 years old) sitting next to each other playing but not actually playing together, according to Parents magazine. Essentially, while your toddler will not express friendship in the same way an older child or an adult would, they are in fact forging a bond with their friends. Jana Murphy, author of The Secret Life of Toddlers, told Parents, "If you closely observe a couple of toddlers at play, you will notice that while they may not roll a ball to each other or share toys, they watch one another carefully and mimic the other's actions." That, my friends, is the start of a beautiful friendship.
But as toddlers grow and practice their burgeoning communication skills and observe social interactions with other children, what is actually going on in your toddler's mind when he says, "I have a best friend"? Let's take a deeper look.