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Toddler - Week #109

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Your 26-month-old toddler (week 109)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

Gimme!  Gimme!  Mine!
           Do you often find your toddler hoarding all of the toys that she can possibly gather, despite the fact that she has no intention of playing with them?  Or have you recently found yourself avoiding stores where toys are strategically placed at your toddler's eye level, out of fear that your toddler may have a melt-down if she can't have everything that enters her field of vision?  If these scenarios sound oh so familiar, let me welcome you to the world of the 26-month-old toddler.

       Although there are a few toddlers (and fortunate parents) who will somehow or another avoid this phase entirely, the vast majority have begun to experience it or will be granted the pleasure of experiencing it sometime in the foreseeable future.

       At this age, your toddler may appear to have an overwhelming urge to accumulate things wherever she goes, particularly if they are in someone else's possession.  There even seems to be a correlation between how many toys she has in her grasp, and feelings of "self-importance" and "self-worth."  Have you heard the phrase, "Whomever has the most toys when he dies wins"?  Well, it seems that there is a bit of truth in this statement, despite the fact that it is often meant as a joke and found on the t-shirts of grown men.

       How these impulses are dealt with during the toddler years may have a direct impact on adulthood, and if left unresolved may lead to difficulties with greediness down the road.  Teaching your toddler that happiness comes from inside her heart and not from material possessions, is an essential lesson that needs to be learned from early on, and this is your opportunity to help keep your toddler's desires in perspective while setting the precedent that she will follow for years to come.

       Gifts and material objects cannot replace the affection, love and attention that your toddler longs for right now, despite her strong disagreement with this statement.  Furthermore, although new toys may temporarily end your toddler's rapid-fire requests and attention seeking behavior, they are only short-term fixes that are setting an inappropriate standard.  Try your best not to allow your toddler's new ability to make you feel guiltier then you ever have in your life cause you to lose focus, and stick to your guns especially when she turns on the water-works and throws herself on the floor.

       Providing your toddler with everything she wants when she wants it, takes the beauty out of those special occasions and moments when she truly does deserve a present.  Remember, it's absolutely all right to shower your little one with little "surprises" once in a while, but it should be on your terms...not hers.


Whining and Crankiness
           I don't' know which I'd rather deal with...a full-blown tantrum in the middle of the mall, or a toddler who constantly whines.  This month prepare to be faced with both of these wonderful situations (at times simultaneously), so if you haven't already...it's a wonderful time to learn a few relaxation techniques because your patience will be tested once again.

       Your toddler is quickly figuring out that whining is the perfect way to get his point across, especially when he does not have your undivided attention.  Like nails slowly screeching down a chalk-board, whining usually causes a parent to stop dead in her tracks in order to stop the never-ending surge of high-pitched, drawn-out demands pouring from the little mouth of her child.  And fortunately for you, parents are most often the target of this lovely behavior, as a toddler this age often seeks out those whom he is most comfortable with in order to share.

       The whiny, cranky toddler is most likely to appear when his routine is askew, his tummy is rumbling, he is overwhelmed, bored or just tired, tired and did I mention...tired?  Being aware of and anticipating your toddler's next move is your best bet in dealing with and fending off this unpleasant behavior, so tune in and stay focused.

       Unfortunately, despite all of the awareness in the world, there are moments where the whining will just begin without warning and the crankiness-meter will go full throttle.  When you do find yourself facing a "difficult moment" with your toddler, don't give in to his requests, and try to re-direct him onto a new task.  Most importantly, when you are faced with an "extended" whining session with your toddler and will do anything to make it stop...don't.  By allowing your toddler's whining to "win," you are reinforcing that whining gets him what he wants when he wants it...the perfect way to create a spoiled child.

       Take these whiny moments as opportunities to teach your toddler appropriate ways to handle uncomfortable feelings.  Begin with the basics, and explain to him very simply how you would like him to behave, and be sure to model the behavior that you would like to see.  Your goal is to eventually get your toddler to recognize how his tone of voice changes when he whines, and by recognizing it himself, he may eventually be able to stop it...particularly when he knows it will get him nowhere.

       Because your toddler is no longer keeping his inner-most thoughts and feelings to himself, you are in a great position to help him communicate and understand what makes him tick.  Frustration often caused by your toddler's inability to succeed at everything he tries is just one thing that may lead to whining, and it is absolutely in your best interest to teach him how to handle these negative feelings before they cause him to act out.



       This is a fun activity for you and your toddler to do together.  It is also a wonderful way to begin teaching your little one about his body while developing a positive and healthy self-image.

       In order to begin this activity you will need a large sheet or roll of paper, a washable marker, and crayons.  Next, place the paper on the ground and be sure that it is large enough for your toddler's entire body to fit.  Lastly, take the marker and outline or trace your toddler's body from head to toe.

       At this point, turn the activity over to your budding artist and allow him to decorate it.  Assist him regarding placement of body parts, particularly those on the face, but allow him to draw his own representations of what they look like.

       Throughout this activity, point to your toddler's drawing and say your toddler's name, then point to your toddler and say his name.  Essentially, help him to make the connection that the image he is creating is actually of himself.  When you and your toddler have completed the tracing, be sure to display it somewhere that your toddler will be able to see it on a regular basis.  Little children this age love to show off their artwork, and there is no greater reward for a job well done than the praise and positive feedback from others.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           This was a wonderful activity for my 26-month-old twin boys, and I will absolutely be doing it again.  Because I feel that so often twins are thought of as one unit, I try to do things with my boys that focus on their individuality and reinforce that they are both unique little individuals.  This activity not only kept my boys focused for an extended period of time, but it also provided an opportunity for both Andrew and Devin to take pride in something that they created on their own.

       Prior to beginning our activity, I placed two large sheets of butcher paper (one labeled "Andrew" and the other labeled "Devin") on our kitchen floor and found a nice chubby marker to do the tracing.  I then motioned to Andrew and Devin, and asked them to lie down on their respective papers.  Once in position, I then began to outline Andrew's body, and he wiggled around in a fit of laughter.  Next, I followed suit with Devin, and he was able to remain remarkably still despite his brother's attempt to engage him in a tickle fight.

       After regaining composure, I then provided both boys with a crayon and asked them to draw eyes, a nose, and a mouth.  With a little direction they were able to follow my lead...although the placement of the requested features was rather "interesting" to say the very least.  Once their faces were complete (or complete in their eyes), I then gave Andrew and Devin four crayons each and let them decorate the rest of their paper people.  Each of my boys definitely had their own style, Andrew's markings appearing very large and dark and Devin's very small and faint, but nonetheless they gave it their best shot and did a great job.

       Overall, despite a minor argument that erupted when Andrew tried to draw on Devin's image and Devin screamed, "My Devin!" followed by Andrew's rebuttal of, "No, MY Devin!" all went better than expected.

       Now, keep in mind that at 26 months, toddlers will not be able to actually create images that necessarily look like anything you can recognize, so when I say my boys drew their faces on their outlines and decorated their bodies...I say so very loosely.  The artistic process alone is the most important part of this activity and the product...well, not so much.  But, they do look adorable displayed on the refrigerator and are wonderful topics for dinner table discussion.


  Have you begun to wonder...
           How can I help my toddler control her "undesirable" behaviors and make her feel good about herself at the same time?       

       Every day, parents are faced with trying to perform the delicate balancing act between disciplining and teaching, providing structure while allowing freedom, and setting the rules yet knowing when to break them.  Also, figuring out how to help control your toddler's "undesirable" behavior while boosting her self-esteem can be the trickiest feat yet, especially if she's made you upset in the process.

       Succeeding at this "balancing act" may require a lot of patience, as well as a lot of practice on your behalf, so be prepared for a bumpy road ahead.  Try your best to look at ways to help your toddler through this difficult phase, reinforce how much you love her and when her behavior takes a turn for the worse, explain to her that you know she can "do better."  Along the same lines, don't forget to praise your toddler for good behavior, and continue to recognize and point out the positive things that you "catch" her doing.

       Most importantly, think before you speak and practice what you preach, especially when your patience has been stretched thin.  "Do what I say, and not as I do" is something that does not go over well with children in general...and it particularly does not fly with toddler's at this age.


Overcoming a Fear of Bees
By Pam Worthen, edHelperBaby

           Anxieties and fears in children are normal and even healthy.  Dealing with these fears can help them deal with challenging situations of life.  Children often fear something after an unpleasant experience.       

       Common childhood fears may be:       
  • Infants and toddlers may have fears such as separation from parents, strangers, insects and loud noises.
  • Preschoolers may fear imaginary things such as ghosts, monsters, the dark, sleeping alone or thunderstorms.
  • Adolescents have more realistic fears such as health, school grades, death, war, terrorists or natural disasters.
       You have to realize even if a fear seems ridiculous to you it is quite real to your child.  Never try to force a fear out of your child by telling them the fear is nonsense and they need to just get over it.  This reaction from you will not take their fear away but may keep them from sharing their feelings with you another time.  Many adult's fears stem from childhood experiences.  Sometimes talking about their fear helps the child realize that it is not such a terrible thing.  Discussing "a way out" of a bad situation also helps them not feel so powerless.  Try teaching coping strategies with positive self-statements like "I can do this" and "I'll be okay."  Try small exposures at a time to try to ease their fear.       

       My friend's son was terrified of bees after being stung several times when he accidentally came across a nest.  Whenever we went anywhere and an insect was flying around, he was terrified and would start screaming.  I was watching him one day and one of his favorite things to do is to feed the fish in my pond.  The pond is surrounded by wildflowers which attracts all kinds of bees.  The one day he was sitting on a stepping stone feeding the fish and I noticed a few carpenter bees on the flowers next to him.  I debated whether I wanted to point them out to him or not because I was afraid he would get all upset.  I showed him the bees and told him that they would not sting that they were just pretty to view.  He was tensing up but I just kept talking gently.  I assured him that the bees were more interested in the flowers than us.  I further explained that only if we stepped on them or tried to hurt them would the other bees sting us.  We found some honey bees and talked about how bees make honey for us to eat.  We talked about how bees are important to people by pollinating flowers.  I explained how we would not have flowers and fruit to eat if it was not for the bees pollinating them.  I pointed out a few other kinds of bees and then found some that I could not identify.  I suggested we go in and look them up on the computer to find out what kind of bee they were.  After looking them up, we decided to print out the names with the pictures and make a "Bee Book."  He was really excited about this!  I cut out rectangular shapes out of construction paper then had him cut out the picture and name of the bee.  He used a glue stick to glue them on the different colors of paper.  He picked the pattern of colors he wanted for his book.  After he was all done, I punched a hole in the corner and placed a ring through the hole to keep them all together.  He loved his book.  We went outside on a bee hunt to see how many different kinds of bees we could find.  We even found a couple of dead bees that he insisted on keeping in a box to show his dad.  He was not afraid of them any more and would search them out.  He went from being terrified of them to wanting to learn about them.  Once he learned the purpose of the bee and they were not just for stinging us, he accepted them.  This is just something that worked for me and I wanted to share with you.  It may not work with all fears but it certainly is worth a try. Sometimes children fear something because they do not truly understand it.       

       When a fear or anxiety will not go away and grows worse with time you may need to seek professional help, especially if it is affecting their everyday life. A child's fear may turn into a phobia or a fear that is extreme, severe and persistent.  This is the top reason children are referred to a mental health professional.       

Bringing Water Play Indoors
By Laura Delgado, Ph.D., edHelperBaby

         Every parent knows that children love water.  Babies often find bath time the most soothing time of the day, and as soon as they are old enough, they become active participants in their baths by splashing and cavorting in the tub.  Often, Mom and Dad end up just as wet as baby.  The love of water does not disappear as babies age into toddlers, on the contrary, toddlers become ever more fascinated with the properties of water.  There is just one slight problem with that rampant love of water as it tends to create very large messes! Playing with water outside is all very well and good.  Nothing is more enjoyable than turning on the sprinklers on a hot summer day and letting toddlers run through them.  In fact, you may very soon notice that you seem to be turning into the Pied Piper as your house becomes the most popular one on the block. Your children can experiment with putting their hands in the spray, both close to the nozzle, and farther out where the water is more dispersed.  They will quickly notice that in one instance they get a face full of water, and in the other, they are relatively safe! Such experiments are invaluable for children, and illustrate one of the most important lessons for any parent that children are constantly learning! The problem, of course, is when they try to continue these experiments in the bathroom sink.  Fortunately, there are several wonderful water activities that children love that create relatively little mess.  As an added bonus, they also provide other valuable learning skills.  Please note: some of the following activities come from Karen Miller's book, Things To Do with Toddlers and Twos, an extremely valuable resource for any toddler mom.
  • Along with water, toddlers love to transfer.  Thus, combine their interests by filling half of an ice cube tray with water, and then showing your toddler how to use an eye dropper to transfer the water from the filled cubes to the empty cubes.  This activity alone will hold a two-year old's interest for quite some time.  If you use food coloring to dye the water, the excitement your toddler demonstrates might well be overwhelming!
  • Utilize eye droppers again to have your toddler transfer water from a container to a dry sponge.  Imagine the perplexity of your toddler when he realizes that the water has "disappeared", only to reappear again when he squeezes the sponge.
  • Since toddlers love to wash things, allow your toddler to help you wash your fruits and vegetables when you bring them home from the store. Making sure that she is secure, help your toddler to stand at the sink (we have a step stool that works well for this task), and for example, place your grapes in a colander.  Let your toddler move them around under the water, preparing them for consumption.  This activity is a bonus if your toddler does not particularly like fruits and vegetables, since many children enjoy eating things more if they help with the preparation.
  • Allow your toddler to play with his bath toys in the kitchen or bathroom sink, but only one at a time.  Bath time can be an ordeal for parents, involving wet clothes, aching backs, and sore knees, so do yourself the occasional favor of allowing your toddler the joy a bath toy apart from bath time.  A sailboat works just as well in the sink, particularly if you have a nice, large kitchen sink.  Better yet, dye the water blue, and create foamy whitecaps with a little dish soap!

       Once you start using your imagination, you will realize that there are numerous ways that you can indulge your toddler's love of water inside, as well as outside.  Best of all, water does not have to mean messy! Young children are by nature kinesthetic learners, in other words, they learn by touching and by doing.  Water is fascinating to them for so many reasons: you cannot hold it, but you can feel it and it does not have a shape, but you can put it in a container.  Indulge your toddler's love of water and his natural learning style without driving yourself crazy with unwanted messes. You will be doing both your toddler and yourself a favor!       


Fine Motor Skills are Really Improving
By Pam Worthen, About my child Leah

           At twenty-six months, Leah's motor skills are really improving.  She is drawing vertical, horizontal and circular strokes with pencils or crayons.  She is so proud of herself because she started cutting lines with safety scissors.  It takes her a little while to get her fingers to cooperate but she is getting the hang of it.  She came in the other day with a little back pack on, that she had to unzip herself, to show me what she had inside.  Leah then proceeded to empty its contents and then zip it back up.  Inside, she had a small fishing pole with a magnet on the end to catch these little wooden fish.  She knew she had to steady her hand to catch the colored fish that she wanted.  If she caught the wrong color, she would tell me, "Not this one" and then put it back on the floor and try again for the color she wanted.       

       We decided to go outside for a picnic lunch since the weather was so nice.  She jumped up and down she was so excited.  We made sandwiches and she helped me put a blanket down for us.  Leah's attention span was increasing because she actually sat there on the blanket for quite awhile.  As we ate, we noticed a moth that was in the grass close to us.  She was telling me not to touch it and was a little afraid.  We talked about how it was like a butterfly and then I got it to crawl on my finger so she could see it was not going to hurt us.  We watched it fly away.       

       As we played outside, I noticed how she is now running through the grass without tripping. She could go up and down the back porch.

Letting Water Rule our Roost!
By Laura Delgado, Ph.D., About my child Nicholas, Mary-Catherine, Michael

       I have three young children who love water! They have been known to sneak out of their bedrooms at naptime to head for the bathroom to play at the sinks.  While I certainly cannot condone such behavior, I do understand it.  I actually find myself staring at fountains, watching the water leap and play and losing myself in thought.  There is something fascinating about water! I try to allow my children to learn naturally (that is, to let them learn when and where they find opportunities, usually in nature) whenever I can.  Water represents a perfect learning tool on so many levels.  The only problem, of course, is that it is so messy.  Left unchecked in your home, it can destroy your belongings which is why I love the activities that I listed here.  We have used all of them extensively, with great success.  My children love it when we do something unexpected, and playing with water inside the house is definitely unexpected!


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