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Toddler - Week #100

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Your 23-month-old toddler (week 100)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

           The time has finally arrived when your toddler truly enjoys playing with others.  Her interactions may remain minimal, she most likely prefers to sit side-by-side marching to the beat of her own drummer, but once in a while you may actually catch a glimpse of some healthy good old interaction.  This month, your toddler especially loves to imitate older children and siblings, taking what she's learned through observation and giving it her own little twist.  She may also try her best to copy everything she sees you do, but easily becomes frustrated when she is unable to keep up.

       Although play dates are a wonderful way to introduce your child to other little people her age, she will continue to have great difficulty grasping the concept of sharing right now. It may not be such a bad idea to "hide" prized possessions during these initial introductions in order to avoid a tug-of-war, or even take it one step further and purchase doubles of a few special items.  You will also notice that your 23-month-old can be extremely stubborn at this age, often claiming her territory by screaming "Mine!",  "Go away!", or the more infamous, "No!"

       Don't be shocked when you witness your toddler expressing her anger in quite a colorful fashion this month, particularly when she doesn't get her way.  Unfortunately the days of hitting, biting, and rolling around on the ground in momentary fits of rage are here to stay for a little while longer, so prepare to referee a few more playground battles before you're in the clear for good.

       When you do have your toddler's friends over to "play," be sure that it's nowhere near nap time and that everyone involved has a full tummy.  At this young age it is also wise to keep their time together short and sweet, 60-90 minutes max, in order to keep everyone's behavior in check and hopefully end the day on a happy note.

       Despite your toddler's desire stretch her wings a little more every day, don't be surprised to find her "checking-in" with you often, and in particular when she is on a play date.  So this month, regardless of your little one's newly found independence, she does continue to struggle with conflicting feelings of wanting to be with you, and wanting to be apart from you simultaneously.  Do your best to try and provide an environment for your toddler where all of her needs can be met, and where the constant ping-pong match in your child's head can be managed in a healthy way.


Play Time
           Play is the best way for your toddler to learn about the world around him, while providing the first-hand experience necessary in order to discover how things work.  Structured activities and toys that leave little room for imagination can be a great way to teach about rules, as well as cause-and-effect, but on the flip side, unstructured activities provide an open-ended atmosphere where creativity and curiosity can lead the way.

       Playing independently is an essential component in your toddler's life this month, and now is the perfect opportunity to teach him how to do it.  It is rare that a 23-month-old toddler will choose to play alone for an extended period of time, and more often than not he just enjoys being in the company of others, even if it means just being in the same room doing different things.  Despite the initial struggle that your toddler may have entertaining himself, it is essential for him to learn that he, all by himself, is great company to be in, and can actually be a lot of fun too.

       Besides the importance of having your toddler learn to entertain himself, it is also essential for your toddler to understand that you have other obligations besides being his live-in playmate, and in fact, you have interests and hobbies of your own.  This month provides you with the perfect opportunity to set a good example for your toddler by showing him the things that you enjoy doing on your own, and sooner or later he may follow suit as well.

       It may help if you actually sit down and teach your toddler about independent play, by providing him with a few "lessons" on how to play with certain toys alone.  Often toys appear so simple to adults that it is easy to forget how difficult they may actually be for a little child to figure out, so it's well worth a few minutes of your time to sit back and do some explaining.  For example, teach him how to stack blocks so they won't topple over, how to snap beads together and pull them apart, or even better yet, show him how to read a book by himself and you may actually sneak a few pages in of the book you have been trying to finish for the past 23 months.

       When you do want your toddler to spend some time alone, get him started on an activity and be sure to leave a few other choices within reach for when his patience or attention begins to wane.  But most importantly, be realistic about your expectations and keep in mind that your days of independence, a private moment alone and silence are fleeting memories of the past.  Fortunately for you, these things have now been permanently replaced by endless hugs and kisses and an unexplainable amount of love.  Definitely a good trade-off in my book...



       This month, your toddler will love playing with a flashlight.  Not only will she have fun making shadows on the walls, but it is also a great way to ease any nighttime fears that she may have of the dark.

       To begin, provide your toddler with a safe flashlight, ideally one that is made for children, where she cannot access the batteries.  Next, dim the lights in her room and turn on the flashlight.  Have her chase the light as it crawls along her walls and floor, and show her how to make shadow puppets with her hands on the ceiling.  Your toddler will also get a kick out of turning the light off and on, and this may be enough entertainment to last quite a while.

       The best part of this activity is that by turning the dark into something fun, it may help with any nighttime fears that may arise when the lights go out at bedtime.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           My 23-month-old twins have a fascination with flashlights, particularly enjoying turning them on and off, and on then off, over and over again.  For this activity, as I have learned with most activities, I made sure to have one flashlight for each of my children in order to avoid a wrestling match in my living room.  After handing them out, I then shut off the lights and our own little show was under way.

       Devin appeared most interested in looking directly into the flashlight and turning it on and off, giggling to himself with every push of the button.  Andrew loved running around the room lighting his path along the way, shouting, "Catch me!" through a veil of    laughter.  That was...until his "brakes" failed and he ran straight into the ottoman (fortunately, he is still easily distracted and was quickly redirected back to the activity after only a few yelps).

       There seems to be something so enticing to toddlers when the lights are off and they are left to find their own way in the dark.  Ordinary things suddenly become exciting, and a simple fort made out of a sheet leads to an unexpected adventure just long enough for another cup of coffee.


  Have you begun to wonder...
           Why has my toddler's separation anxiety suddenly increased again?       

       Despite the fact that your 23-month-old toddler is becoming increasingly independent every day, you can expect to see his separation anxiety kicked up a notch as you edge closer to his second birthday.  Some children have never had a problem leaving their parent's side, but it is more common than not to see a toddler this age desperately clinging to his mother's leg as she attempts to leave the room.

       Now that your toddler is slightly older, he knows that when you're not with him, there's a possibility that you are with someone else, and even worse, possibly doing something fun.  As you know by now, your toddler is still not very good at sharing, and this difficulty stretches far beyond the toy box.  Not only does your toddler cringe at the mere idea of missing out on whatever it is that you are doing when you are apart, but the thought of sharing you with another human being is absolutely unbearable.

       The best way to handle these heart-breaking separations that have become increasingly common this month is to let your toddler know that you understand how sad he is, validate his feelings, then take three deep breaths and continue on to your original destination.  Although it may be difficult for you to believe, more often than not your toddler will be absolutely fine by the time you've reached your car parked just outside, and he may actually have fun in your absence.

       Just on a side note, it's never a good idea to sneak off behind your toddler's back this month. This tactic, although sworn-by by a few parents, may actually cause more damage and drama than you had to begin with.  Once your toddler has it in his mind that you may unexpectedly sneak away on occasion, he may refuse to ever leave your side again out of fear that it may happen any time he turns his back.  If having a few minutes to yourself is something that you enjoy...I strongly recommend that you don't go this route.


     Make a Splash in the Kitchen!!

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