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Toddler - Week #103

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Your 24-month-old toddler (week 103)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

Emotional Development
           This month prepare for your toddler's emotions to take on a "roller coaster-like" quality, fluctuating from being elated to angry in the blink of an eye.  Fortunately, in order to make this emotional time a little more comfortable for both you and your toddler alike, spontaneous affections are also kicked-up a notch, so expect a lot of hugs and kisses to be sent your way amidst the confusion.

       As you edge closer and closer to the 2-year mark, your toddler's sense of humor is also beginning to develop, and she is easily sent into fits of uncontrollable laughter throughout the day.  The best part of this development is that she is not only humored by the silly things you do, she is also able to laugh at herself, often placing herself in precarious positions in order to put on a great show.

       Your 24-month-old's independent streak is not going away any time soon either, so you can be certain she will demonstrate how far she can stretch the boundaries that you have set, and how often she can push you over the edge.  As you have noticed over the past few months, now is the time when she really wants to do things on her own, and she also appears to have her own plans regarding how she will carry them out and when.  As you can imagine, this not only sets the stage for conflicts with those around her, it is also a guaranteed formula for frustration and inevitable melt-downs along the way too.

       Defiant behavior remains common-place right now, however your toddler is quickly figuring out how a bat of her eyes and a crooked little smile can turn your mood around, especially when she is faced with the repercussions of her actions.  Despite your ability to frequently forgive, it is important to let her know this month, that her negative behavior is unacceptable.  Also, do your best to keep following through with the consequences that her behavior has reaped and keep the laughter to yourself.


Social Development
           From a very early age, your child can learn about treating others kindly and begin to understand the positive benefits of having healthy relationships.  This month, imitation continues to be at the core of your toddler's learning experience, and not only does he love to watch how you interact with others, but he continuously searches for opportunities to give it a try on his own.

       Every day your toddler is learning more and more about being his own little person separate from those around him, and because of this new found understanding, he is now more determined than ever to be certain that you are aware of his growing independence as well.

       Social awkwardness appears to be the norm right now, so do expect to see a bit of difficulty when it comes to your toddler interacting appropriately with other children.  Don't be surprised when an attempted hug becomes a take-down, or a high-five becomes a slap in the face, instead, think of these moments as trial runs that need to be practiced a bit more before the real test.

       Possessiveness is also on the rise this month, so despite your toddler's attempts to offer toys to other children, expect it to be short lived as he grabs them right back and runs the other direction without hesitation.  Again, this less than perfect etiquette is completely normal and to be expected at this age.  Unfortunately, your toddler's ability to act aggressively, particularly when he wants something another child has is also on the rise, so, your best bet right now is to anticipate your toddler's every move and be prepared to say, "Sorry," on your toddler's behalf on more than one occasion at the playground.

       Interestingly, despite your toddler's newfound interest in other children, as well as his growing independence, don't be surprised to have him wrapped around your legs as you attempt to leave the room, or you're faced with a screaming 24-month-old as you head out the door.  At this age your toddler has formed very strong emotional attachments, especially to you, and often becomes overwhelmed when faced with the thought of being separated.  Although separation anxiety continues to run rampant this month, hope is just around the corner, as it usually peaks and then quickly fades right around his 2nd birthday.


Destructive Behavior and Anger
           At 24 months of age, frustrations frequently build, and you may watch in disbelief as your toddler becomes slightly "destructive" in order to vent.  Because of your toddler's inability to cope appropriately, be prepared to have a few toys thrown your direction when she can't make them work on their own, and if she thinks you're spending a little too much time with her newborn sibling, you may want to fine-tune your dodging and ducking skills as well.

       It is important that your toddler understand that it is okay to experience negative feelings, however it is not alright to act them out in an aggressive way.  Although it may seem early, experts believe "the sooner the better," regarding when you should begin teaching your toddler about coping with these strong emotions in a healthy and acceptable manner.

       Now is a great time to teach your toddler about a few physical outlets that will help to get her anger and extra energy out.  Some things that you may want try are having a pillow fight, punching balloons, drumming, hammering toys, or setting up a low mattress to jump on.  It can also work wonders if you just provide her with a nice big place to run around in circles, or for the more daring and flexible, give yoga a try too.

       Anger and destructive behavior are normal passages that many toddlers will go through, particularly at this age, so don't think you're in this alone.  Like everything else, this too shall pass, but it can never be soon enough.  When you do find your toddler having difficulty controlling her emotions, show her by example how to calm down.  Anger met with anger only breeds more anger, and anger met with love, more often than not, may instantly cause her to simmer down.


           Toddler Yoga       

       Yoga is not only a great activity for you as a parent to participate in, but it is also a wonderful way for you and your toddler to share something together and get a little exercise in too.  Although some of the poses may be a bit "challenging" for the most balanced and well-centered individuals out there, yoga is the perfect way for you to teach your toddler relaxation and breathing techniques, and also provides you with the perfect opportunity to actually get a little time to yourself while entertaining your toddler simultaneously.

       If you are already involved in the yoga world, great, you have a head-start.  If not, it's very easy to get your hands on a basic yoga DVD, or better yet, a DVD specifically geared for parents and children to do together.  Yoga DVD's are a great way for your toddler to learn the poses, and will definitely help to keep his attention also.

       When you do start a routine, try and make the atmosphere as calm and conducive to relaxation as possible.  Rid the room of any toys, or any other extraneous variables that may cause your toddler to lose focus.  You may even want to purchase his own little mat to exercise on, and might be pleasantly surprised to find that he actually stays on it during the activity.  Toddlers this age love to feel in control of their environment, and when you provide them with a specific location to stand on, you're helping to keep him centered and focused (at least trying to), less overwhelmed, and reducing the amount of choices he must make.

       So, give yoga a try.  There's nothing cuter in my opinion than a 2-year-old trying to do a Sun Salutation...


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           I've been trying to incorporate yoga into my daily routine for years, thinking it would be the perfect way to relax, focus and exercise all at once.  After reading about how great it could also be for children, I thought that I now had the perfect opportunity to give it a shot.  I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much cooperation from my 24-month-old twin boys at first, but after doing it for almost week...I've been pleasantly surprised to say the least.

       I was thrilled to locate a beginner's yoga DVD at our local library instead of having to purchase one.  Not knowing how this was going to work or not work, I was happy to give it a test run first before committing.

       Prior to beginning our "routine," I pushed back the furniture in the living room and removed any toys.  I then placed towels on the floor to act as mats, and explained to Andrew and Devin that these were their special spots.  Of course they then spent a few minutes stepping off their towels just to see how I would react, but after a few laughs quickly returned to their respective "home plates" and we began.

       Of course, the boys ran around the room off and on throughout the activity, but I must say that they were able to focus much more than I expected.  Together we slowly went through the various poses, and I was quickly reminded that any flexibility that I once possessed has long since disappeared.  On the flip side, Andrew and Devin loved anything having to do with touching their toes, or stretching their hands above their heads...fortunately, this was very common in the DVD I had chosen.

       After completing a 20-minute routine successfully (and without injury), I vowed to try it again the next day, and I am happy to report that we have now been able to incorporate yoga into our daily afternoon routine for the past four days.  It definitely doesn't hurt to know that I have two little motivators that will help to encourage me to exercise everyday.  Andrew and Devin actually woke up from their naps a little while ago, and their first question in unison was, "Yoga?"  So much for taking the day off!


  Have you begun to wonder...
           Why does my 24-month-old have such great difficultly playing nicely with other children?       

       Many children this age continue to struggle with the idea of sharing and taking turns, and it is completely normal for your toddler to remain self-centered, wanting everything in sight to himself.  Gaining the ability to empathize or sympathize when another child is upset would require that your toddler step out of the spotlight for a moment...and this is something that he is just not able to do yet.

       Some toddlers who are in daycare, or those who have older siblings, may be able to appropriately play at an earlier age because, to put it simply, they just have more experience.  Teaching your child to be kind takes time, and the best way to get your toddler to understand this value is to set a good example yourself.

       When you do find your toddler taking things away from another child, or if he unintentionally hurts someone's feelings, don't let it slide, but do be cautious regarding how the issue is breached.  Now is the perfect time to explain to your toddler that her negative actions affect other people, and let her know that others have feelings too.  Speak to your toddler in a language she understands, and draw correlations that she can relate to when you are trying to make a point.  If she takes a doll away from her friend, remind her how sad she felt when it happened to her the other day, and try to use specific examples from her own past.  You don't want to make her fearful of socializing by becoming angry at her behavior, but you do want to plant the seed for better interactions in the future.  Although it will be a long time before your toddler is capable of being fully-fledged in the empathy department, at least this can be a step in the right direction.


Taking Care of Your Babies Teeth
By Pam Worthen, edHelperBaby

           No parent wants their baby to have a cavity.  There are ways you can cut down on the risk.   One of the biggest causes of cavities in a very young child is sending your baby to bed with a bottle.  Once you have started this, it may be a hard habit to break but it can be done.  Gradually start mixing water with the milk or juice until you are only giving water.  The reason the bottle is so bad at bed time is that the sugars in the juice or milk clings to the teeth all night when your baby salivates less.  Cavities in baby's teeth are also caused by dipping a pacifier in sugar, molasses or other sweetener for comfort.  Pediatricians are recommending that sipper cups may be causing cavities because the cups place the liquid right on the front teeth.  Straws are a great way to by-pass the front teeth if your little one can handle the open cup.  I found some very inexpensive cups that have a straw attached to the side and had a lid.  The cups will spill if tipped over but they are better for toddlers than the cup without a lid.       

       When your baby's first tooth comes through, dentists recommend that you clean the tooth with a small piece of gauze that is dampened with water.  You may also purchase Baby Dental Wipes from your local store.  By the time your baby is around two, he can start brushing with a small tooth brush and water or use a pea size amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste for children on his toothbrush.  Brushing requires fine motor skills so parents should brush their child's teeth after he is finished. Two good ideas are to have the child brush his teeth while you are brushing your own teeth and watch himself brushing his teeth in the bathroom mirror.  Make sure he spits the toothpaste out and rinses his mouth.  You should try to get a brushing routine established with your child such as everyday after breakfast and before bed. After your child is three years of age, he should learn how to dental floss as well as brushing.       

       Primary teeth are important because they hold the space for permanent teeth.  My oldest son lost his front primary teeth due to a fall and then lost the spacing for his permanent teeth due to his teeth shifting.  He had to get teeth pulled every year to make room for the permanent teeth. He also needed to go to speech therapy.  Many parents believe that temporary teeth are not important but those teeth do serve a purpose and we need to try to keep the child's temporary teeth healthy.

       You should take your baby to the dentist six months after his first tooth appears for an oral examination.  When your child reaches three years of age, he should have his first preventive care appointment.  Before your visit, talk to your child about what the dentist will be doing to prepare the child. This preparation will help ease any fears he might have and make his first visit more pleasant.       


Becoming a Social Butterfly
By Pam Worthen, About my child Leah

           Leah is really enjoying playing with friends now.  She has learned to share and take turns pretty well although once in a while she still needs to be reminded.  I even get reminded when I do not want her to play with my cell phone and she tells me to take turns!  When she is playing with friends, her favorite line is, "Come here, I want to show you something."  She then takes their hand and leads them to the toy box and instructs them to sit and play.   I was babysitting a friend's children yesterday and she really enjoyed playing with them. Two of the children are a set of six year old twins.  She kept getting the twins names mixed up so we pointed out to her that one was a boy and one was a girl.  She knows she is a girl and her daddy is a boy.  The children then went to every person in the room and asked her if they were a girl or a boy.  She was correct with everyone except me and she would say the wrong thing just so everyone would laugh.  It was amazing to see her at such a young age figure out how to get a laugh.  When it was time for everyone to leave, she had to give them all a kiss good-bye.


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