Toddlers of 18, 22 and 26 Months Old Take into Account the Limits of their Body



Today, most researchers recognize the fact of the multicomponent nature of the phenomenon of self-awareness. Earlier, in studies of self-awareness, both in early ontogeny in humans and in animals, the emphasis was on the visual representation of oneself. Now the bodily components of self-awareness are also taken into account: the perception of one's own limits, weight and other characteristics. In 2007, an experimental technique was developed, during which children of different ages (18, 22 and 26 months) had to penetrate holes corresponding to the size of their bodies. The experimental setup used permeable and impermeable holes. The number of errors made it possible to judge how well the children correlate the limits of their own bodies with the size of the holes. This article proposes a modification of the previously developed technique (experimental setup and the experiment procedure itself) to improve the reliability of the data obtained. We believe that the technique we have developed makes it possible to exclude such a side factor as the position of the hole. Therefore, with its help, clearer results were obtained (in comparison with the old method): children at the age of 18 months do not yet correlate the size of their body with the size of the holes for penetration. Moreover, each of the 30 children made no more than one mistake in a trial. Children aged 26 months significantly more often made the first attempt to penetrate the permeable opening. This indicates that at the age of 26 months, a person develops an awareness of the boundaries of his body.

General Information

Keywords: self-awareness, body awareness, own body limits awareness, children, toddlers

Journal rubric: Developmental Psychology

Article type: scientific article


Funding. This work was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, grant number 20-013-00546-a.

Received: 07.12.2021


For citation: Khvatov I.A. Toddlers of 18, 22 and 26 Months Old Take into Account the Limits of their Body. Eksperimental'naâ psihologiâ = Experimental Psychology (Russia), 2022. Vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 157–166. DOI: 10.17759/exppsy.2022150410. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Khvatov I.A. The ability of toddlers to take into account their own body limits //Cognition and experience, 2021. Vol. 2(3), pp. 37—47. DOI:10.51217/ cogexp_2021_02_03_03
  2. Bahrick L., Moss L., Fadil C. Development of visual self-recognition in infancy // Ecological Psychology, 1996. Vol. 8, pp. 189—208.
  3. Bertenthal B.I., Fischer K.W. Development of self-recognition in the infant // Developmental Psychology, 1978. Vol. 14(1), pp. 44—50.
  4. Bischof-KöhlerD., and BischofN. Self-recognition, empathy, and concern for others in toddlers // Forms of fellow feeling: Empathy, sympathy, concern and moral agency / ed. by N. Roughley & T. Schramme. Cambridge University Press, 2018. Pp. 78—105. DOI:10.1017/9781316271698.003
  5. Brooks-Gunn J., Lewis M. The development of early visual self-recognition // Developmental Review, 1984. Vol. 4, pp. 215—239.
  6. Brownell C.F., Zerwas S., Ramani G.B. “So Big”: The Development of Body Self-awareness in Toddlers // Child Dev., 2007. Vol., 78(5), pp. 1426—1440.
  7. Bullock M., Luetkenhaus P. Who am I? Self-understanding in toddler // Merrill Palmer Quarterly, 1990. Vol. 36(2), pp. 217—238.
  8. Gallup G.G.Jr., Anderson J.R. Where do we stand 50 years later? Lessons from cleaner wrasse and other species. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 2020. 7(1), pp. 46—58.
  9. Garcia L., Hart D., Johnson-Ray R. What do children and adolescents think about themselves? A developmental account of self-concept // Hala S., editor. The development of social cognition. UK: Psychology Press, Pp. 365—394.
  10. Garcia L., Hart D., Johnson-Ray R. What do children and adolescents think about themselves? A developmental account of self-concept // Hala S., editor. The development of social cognition. UK: Psychology Press, Pp. 365—394.
  11. Harter S. The construction of the self: A developmental perspective. New York: Guilford Press,
  12. James W. Principles of psychology. New York: Holt,
  13. Kagan J. The second year: Emergence of self-awareness. Boston: Harvard University,
  14. Khvatov I.A., Kharitonov A.N., Sokolov A.Yu. Ferrets may learn awareness in their own body limits // Pracana C. & Wang M., (eds.). Psychological Applications and Trends. Lisboa, Portugal: in Science Press, 2021. Pp. 465—467. DOI:10.36315/2021inpact105
  15. Khvatov I.A., Smirnova A.A., Samuleeva M.V., Ershov E.V., Buinitskaya S.D. and Kharitonov A.N. Hooded Crows (Corvus cornix) May Be Aware of Their Own Body Size. Psychol. 2021. 12:769397. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.769397
  16. Lewis M., Brooks-Gunn J. Social cognition and the acquisition of self. NY: Plenum,
  17. Lewis M., Ramsay D. Development of self-recognition, personal pronoun use, and pretend play during the 2ndyear // Child Development, 2004. Vol. 75, pp. 1821—1831.
  18. Lewis M., Sullivan M.W., Stanger C., Weiss M.Self development and self-conscious emotions // Child Development, 1989. Vol. 60(1), pp. 146—156.
  19. Moore C., Lemmon K. The nature and utility of the temporally extended self // Moore C, Lemmon K, editors. The self in time: Developmental perspectives. New Jersey: Erlbaum, 2001. Pp. 1—14.
  20. Moore C., Mealiea J., Garon N., Povinelli D.J. The development of body self-awareness // Infancy, 2007. Vol. 11(2), pp. 157—174.
  21. Nielsen M., Dissanayake C., Kashima Y. A longitudinal investigation of self-other discrimination and the emergence of mirror self-recognition // Infant Behavior & Development, 2003. Vol. 26, pp. 213—226.
  22. Rochat P., editor. The self in infancy: Theory and research. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1995.

Information About the Authors

Ivan A. Khvatov, PhD in Psychology, Head, Center for Research and Education in Biopsychology and Chair of General Psychology, Moscow Institute of Psychoanalysis, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 431
Previous month: 41
Current month: 18


Total: 122
Previous month: 7
Current month: 2