Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Because Babies Grow Up: The Truth About Toddlers

By Dave Buchwald (Own work)
[CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL],
via Wikimedia Commons
Having a toddler around can be very trying on your patience, creativity and ingenuity. There is so much going on in that little body that it often gets the best of them and us as we try to work through our daily routine. Here are three things to keep in mind that will help you keep your sanity.

Toddlers love repetition.

Repetition is a great learning tool for adults and toddlers. The difference is that adults get bored with repetition long before toddlers do.

I watched my friend’s little boy just a few days before he turned two. For the couple hours he was at my house we had the same conversation a few dozen times. It went something along these lines,
Boy: “Where’s my daddy?”
Me: “At work.”
Boy: “Light?”
Me: “Yes, that’s a light.”
Boy: “Where’s my mommy?”
Me: “Studying.”
Boy: “She go the van?”
Me: “Yes, she left in the van.”
And repeat.

At first I thought I wasn’t understanding him. Then I thought he didn’t understand me. Then I realized it was a game for him. He wanted to interact with me but his abilities are still limited so he engaged me the best he could. This exchange built his confidence with the language and his turn taking skills which are both an important part of communicating.

Toddlers hate sharing.

From birth babies love faces. They are wired for human interaction. They smile and coo and win us over. Then they start reaching for things, like our mouths and hair and we think their interaction is just so cute.

Then they discover the independence of walking. They wander off and play by themselves. They are almost hostile anytime another kid comes over to play. It’s hard to see our sweet, interactive babies turn into individualistic toddlers. But that’s part of their development.

It’s important for toddlers to learn to play by themselves. They need the security of knowing mom or someone is close by and the freedom of having full control of their play experience. This is crucial for their ability to learn to play with other children. While we want to encourage sharing and playing nice, we also need to recognize their stage and accept that they need this time to learn to play alone.

Toddlers have intense emotional experiences.

With all this learning, discovery and freedom comes a whole new depth of emotional reactions to their experiences. So much learning and growth takes place in such a short amount of time that they are easily overextended and react with meltdowns.

When the meltdown comes we need to really hear what’s at the root of the emotion and help our toddler to know we’ve heard it and that we care. What is silly and insignificant to us, through our long-term perspective, is devastating and life-altering to our little ones.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat on the grocery store floor with my child lamenting with her that we weren’t going to buy the toy or candy or whatever that day. Just as toddlers had to learn to control their muscles in order to crawl and walk, they need to learn to control their emotions so they can communicate and function.

Armed with these three truths about toddlers, you are ready to enjoy your little one in all the happy and not-so-happy moments.

About the Author: Amber blogs at Because Babies Grow Up about child development, parenting, and life with three little ones.
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Nekky on Tue May 31, 09:05:00 AM 2011 said...

Nice post. You have to have toddlers for you to understand them. The more you stay with them, the more you learn about them. Just stopping by to say hello.


Because Babies Grow Up: The Truth About Toddlers

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