I’m taking a few weeks away from blogging as my family celebrates our new baby, Mia. Before I “unplugged” from the computer, I worked on this series about Ages and Stages. Today’s installment is about toddlers. I hope you enjoy it! Best Wishes – Kara
Toddlerhood: a time when our child is often full on emotion and short on patience. But, toddlerhood can also be a time of great joy, silliness, and bonding.
In fact, many parents I know, myself included, declare these years to be among their favorite ages, despite the sometimes rocky phases one and two year olds can go through.
Patience and Laughter
It is true that toddlers have a reputation for getting frustrated easily and sometimes lashing out. They aren’t naturally very patient so it is important that their caregivers are patient.
I know that this is sometimes easier said than done, but one thing I have learned about patience is that it gets easier the more you practice it. And toddlers give us lots of chances to practice patience.
A sense of humor can’t be underestimated either. Some of my favorite advice on parenting with a sense of humor comes from Carrie at The Parenting Passageway blog. As Carrie says, “Humor and playfulness does mean that we can step back and laugh at our own mistakes, the mistakes our children make, to see the humor and joy in a situation and have some fun!”
And, it helps to try to remember not to take a toddler’s outbursts personally (not easy to do when you’re being screamed at, I know).
It also helps you and your child if you have realistic expectations of them. Remember: toddlers are still very young. They are doing a lot of learning, growing, and changing but a two year old is still a two year old, with a two year old’s mind, feelings, and capabilities.
My experience is that some of the turbulence of toddlerhood seems to drop off as verbal skills become stronger. Being able to communicate and be understood eases some of the frustration, or at least that has been the case with our toddlers.
Don’t underestimate the calming effects of household rhythms and routines, even at this young age. In fact, I think kids at this age especially need stability, steady rhythms, and to be able to know what comes next and what the household rules are.
Play and Exploration
While I think structure is important, I also believe that it should be balanced with plenty of free play time.
Kids at this age need room to explore and play. They need spaces and objects that they can touch, explore, and manipulate. Toddlerhood is a time many kids hear the word “no” so they need areas and objects that can be a “yes” for them.
Times and places for making messes, trying new things, and being loud are important for kids (and, I would argue, for grown ups, too).
Toddlers also need safe spaces to explore and play and it is important to remember that toddlers can get into more now that they are mobile and “toddling” around. They need “baby proofing” to be taken to the next level.
This is the age when kids put things in their nose, run everywhere (often without looking where they are going), and climb without regard to height. Foresight isn’t a toddler’s strong-suit, so they need for their caregivers to be vigilant to help prevent accidents.
Some Nice Things for Toddlers:
- wooden blocks and other stacking toys
- a doll, with a blanket and very simple doll clothes (buttons may be hard for a young toddler to manipulate)
- my kids have all enjoyed puppets at this age
- peg puzzles
- child-sized bowl, plate, cup, and silverware
- a simple doll house or barn w/ a few small dolls or animals
- playsilks or cotton cloths in squares (for peek a boo, dress up, etc)
- some large crayons and blank paper for coloring
- a potty seat or potty chair
- quality picture books (board books are nice for this age)
- a place to dig and a place to pour (a sandbox or a sand and water table)
- time outdoors, every day if possible
Some of my favorite resources for toddlerhood:
- Creative Play for Your Toddler
- Your One Year Old: The Fun Loving, Fussy 12 to 24 Month Old
- Your Two Year Old: Terrible or Tender
- Meditations for Mothers of Toddlers
What do you think? Would you add anything to this list? What are your favorite resources for toddlerhood?