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Toddler - Week #112

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Your 26-month-old toddler (week 112)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

Potty Training
           Unfortunately, there is no "perfect" age to begin potty training your toddler, so if you have been waiting for a specific month or year to arrive...it's time to re-think your strategy.  Once again, only your little one holds the key to when he will be successful, so pay close attention and watch for the "pre requisite skills" to arrive before the diapers are officially crossed off the shopping list.

       Learning to use the toilet is a developmental skill just like rolling-over, sitting-up, crawling, and walking.  Some toddlers are ready to train before the age of two, some toddlers are not ready until well after two...and some toddlers (like my eldest son) are not ready until at least the age of 3.  Every child is different, every child will face challenges, and eventually every child will succeed...eventually.

       As mentioned before, not only are there specific skills that your toddler must master before even considering starting to train, it is also essential that you look at the current dynamics in your family, and other things going on in the life of your toddler before you take it on.  When you believe that your toddler may be ready, it is important that life remains routine, and major changes will not be taking place while he will be giving it a go for the first time.  Specifically, if you are moving, expecting another child, or going through a difficult time in your marriage, it may be in everyone's best interest to postpone the potty training festivities until things calm down and wait until life becomes a little more "normal" again.


The Magical Combination
           Although there may not be a magical number to look for regarding when to begin the potty training process, there is a combination of very important "skills" that your toddler should possess if success is to be achieved without a fight.

       Before you consider breaking out the potty, think about your toddler, and if she is physiologically ready to begin.  More specifically, is she able to stay dry for at least two hours at a time during the day, and does she stay dry during naps?  Also, is she becoming predictable regarding when she has a bowel movement?  And is there a pattern developing when she is wet?  If you can honestly answer "yes" to these few questions, you've tackled skill number one.

       Now for skill number two...Is your toddler aware of when she is going to the bathroom in her diaper?  Does she give you a sign, go into a corner, or possibly make an announcement prior to going?   Also, is she becoming more aware of being messy and ask to be cleaned up after eating or playing somewhere dirty?  Have you answered yes, yes, and yes?  Then move onto the next skill.  On the other hand if you have answered no, no, and maybe, wait a few more weeks and check back again later.

       Moving onto skill number three, you will have to pay close attention to your toddler's ability to communicate, comprehend, and express herself.  Think about your toddler's ability to understand the difference between being wet and dry, and between urinating and having a bowel movement.  Is she able to independently name her body parts associated with these bodily functions, and does she know what each part does?  Lastly, is she able to communicate her wants and needs, and follow simple two-step directions, particularly regarding hygiene?  Now is the time to honestly assess your toddler's ability to succeed in these areas, and keep in mind that pushing her to train before she is fully ready can lead to "potty rebellion" in the end...something that no parent wants to experience.

       So here you are, ending the list of pre-requisite skills and you've said yes to everything thus far.  At this point it would appear that your little one may be ready, however there are a few last things to look for in order to be certain.

       The last essential skill for you to assess, is you toddler's desire to begin the potty training process.  Does your toddler show an interest in wearing big-girl underpants and getting rid of her diapers?  Has she become interested in other people's use of the bathroom in your household, and begun to follow everyone in hoping to catch a glimpse of what goes on behind closed doors?  This heightened sense of awareness and curiosity are the final pieces to the puzzle, and essentially your toddler's way of telling you that she's finally ready, willing and able to take on this new challenge...the last question is...are you ready?


It's Time!...Now What?
           So you've made the decision that it's time to give potty training a shot.  Life at home is as "normal" as can be expected, your 26-month-old toddler has met all of the "criteria" with leaps and bounds, and all of the stars are aligned...now what?

       From this point on you are entering a very crucial time for everyone involved in the potty process, and how you handle the circumstances can either make or break the entire deal.  No pressure, but here are a few pointers that may help you to get started.

       First, prepare your toddler for this exciting experience ahead of time, by reading silly books on the subject, talking about how fun and grown-up it is to use the potty, and involving her in the process of picking out big kid underpants and her "special seat."

       Initially, let her get used to sitting on the potty fully clothed, let her carry it around the house, practice with her stuffed animals and dolls, and become acquainted with it.  At this point, just keep an eye on the timing of your toddler's bathroom habits before you even attempt to try training, and determine if there is a regular pattern for you to take advantage of.  After making this assessment and getting your toddler used to the idea of using the potty, make the switch from diapers to "pull-ups," and at times just let her run free in her birthday suit to make access hassle-free.

       When your toddler is comfortable with sitting on the potty, understands what you would like her to do, and appears excited to give it a whirl herself...go ahead and let her try, but expect quite a few accidents along the way.  Keep in mind that when your toddler was learning to walk, she continued to stumble for quite a few months before she got a handle on it.  Well, potty training is exactly the same in this sense, and it will also take quite a while before your little one is a pro.  Even the most resistant toddler will eventually realize that using the potty beats wearing a diaper any day...and like everything else that you and your toddler have accomplished thus far...this takes a lot of patience, patience, patience.


           "Oops" Day!       

       Being a parent of a toddler, you are fully aware that accidents occur on a daily, or sometimes hourly, basis right now.  This activity allows you to make light of these regular occurrences and is a wonderful way to add a little humor to your day, while keeping things in perspective.

       All that this "game" requires is for you to act sillier than usual, and change your daily routine into something fun.  From the moment you wake up, start doing things "incorrectly" like putting shoes on your hands, a hat on your foot, and your shirt on backwards.  Look for the waffles in your toddler's ear, call your goldfish the wrong name, and hop on your toddler's tricycle for a trip to the grocery store.  Every time you do something silly, give an exaggerated "Oops!" and watch as your toddler gets the giggles.  Once your toddler figures out what has gone awry, ask him to help you get it right and then praise him for his work.

       Your toddler will love seeing you acting so silly, and it is a great way to teach him that even grown-ups make mistakes and need help once in a while.  Learning to laugh at yourself, and more importantly, how not to take life so seriously every waking moment, is also an extremely valuable lesson that can last a lifetime.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           I will be the first to admit that being goofy is not that difficult of a task for me, however I was determined to step-up my natural ability and make our "Oops" Day one that would not soon be forgotten.

       Lately, it seems that not a day goes by that milk isn't thrown across the living room, Cheerios don't end up in the DVD player, the poor cat isn't sat on, and shoes aren't on the wrong feet.  Having 26-month-old twins and a 5-year-old has definitely given my life an entirely new perspective and helped me to sort out what is important, and what is not, as well as, what can be fixed, and what can not.  This activity was a great way to further reinforce this message to my little guys and get a good laugh along the way.

       I started the day by saying "Good Night!" to my boys as they climbed out of bed, followed by an exaggerated "Oops!" which was met by a smirk and a giggle.  I then began to get them dressed in my husband's clothes, as Andrew's fit of laughter grew by the second and he attempted to squeak out "Not mine!" through the giggles.

       Next came breakfast where I gave the boys Legos in their cereal bowls.  Devin, finally catching on to the game, whispered "Oops Mommy?" hoping that I would agree and provide him with something a bit more nutritious to eat.

       Over the course of the morning, I continued to surprise Andrew and Devin with my ridiculous antics right up until their naptime when we were all thoroughly exhausted, and I was out of ideas.  Then the joke was on me.

       As I began to change their diapers both Andrew and Devin sprinted out of their bedroom buck-naked, streaked through the kitchen and into the hallway.  There I found them huddled in a corner "hiding" and hysterically laughing...that was, until they proceeded to go to the bathroom in unison on the floor, and the laughter suddenly stopped.  At that point, both boys looked up at me, uncertain about what to do, and whispered in stereo, "Oops?"


  Have you begun to wonder...
           Why does it seem that boys take much longer to potty train than girls?       

       The rumors are true...on average boys do train later, and do take longer to train than girls.  At times this difference can be just a matter of weeks, but more often than not, it is months or up to a year later.  This difference may be due to boys maturing a little slower than their female counterparts, however, it may also be due to the simple fact that many boys this age are just more active and a lot less compliant than little girls are.

       Nonetheless, this skill, like everything else over the past 26 months, takes time, several deep breaths, and a whole lot of creativity.  Try not to compare your little one to other kids, because every one's circumstances and personalities are different.

       Lastly, erase any preconceived notions that you may have regarding how this potty training debacle should or should not go...and follow your toddler's lead no matter what path he decides to take for now.


Utilizing Cookie Cutters Year Round
By Laura Delgado, Ph.D., edHelperBaby

           Most parents have faced the issue of what to feed their growing toddlers for lunch.  There are only so many choices and a parent's desire to feed a toddler a healthy lunch often clashes with a toddler's desire for a familiar (and not necessarily healthy) favorite.  One solution takes advantage of a tool that is undoubtedly residing in your kitchen cabinet right now. Offer your toddler the foods of your choice but cut them using a cookie cutter! A toddler who turns his nose up at a lunch of sliced turkey and cheese served with or without bread, depending on preference and allergies, will look with delight upon the same lunch when it is served in the shape of a bell or a star.       

       Once your child has gotten used to your cookie cutter creativity, you can step up your approach by decorating your creations.  For example, your star shaped cold cuts, sandwiches or tortillas can now take on facial features! Use raisins or grapes for eyes but always, always be aware of potential choking hazards, and always halve grapes for children under two and baby carrots or sliced bananas for mouths.  Now your child is eating fruits and vegetables with lunch and she probably does not even realize it!       

       The possibilities for increasing lunch time fun are almost endless and they do not require much parental effort at all.  Consider allowing older toddlers to help you make lunch plus they will be far more likely to eat what they have helped to make and can certainly spread peanut butter with a spoon or wash fruit in a colander.  Also, realize that it is never too early to begin talking to young children about health and nutrition.  Allowing them to participate in the process from a young age will help them to start off on the right foot making healthy choices.       

       Finally, if lunch time starts to feel routine and boring, try relocating! Pack up lunch and go to a park.  If that is not feasible, just take lunch outside into the backyard.  A new location can do wonders to break up the normal lunch time habits.       

Making Your Own Bubbles
By Pam Worthen, edHelperBaby

           Children of all ages love to play with bubbles.  When they are very young, using a wand type bubble maker works best.  Young children tend to suck the bubble solution into their mouths instead of blowing air out.  If you use the wand, they can just wave the wand into the air.  Sometimes they would rather run around trying to catch or pop them instead of making them.  Below is a homemade solution I found to work well.  Remember bubbles make hard surfaces slippery and it is best to do this activity in the grass.  You can substitute baby tear free shampoo for tear free bubbles.       

       1 cup water

       2 tablespoons glycerin

       4 tablespoons dish washing liquid or tear free shampoo/wash       

       Mix together and have fun!       


Creating Healthy Habits
By Laura Delgado, Ph.D., About my child Therese, Nicholas, Mary-Catherine, Michael

         My children consider cookie cutter sandwiches and lunch meat a huge treat.  It is not something we do everyday but when they see dinosaur shaped sandwiches served alongside baby carrots, they begin chanting, "It's a party, it's a party!"  If I add yogurt to their lunches, they are convinced it must be a special occasion.  In our family, then, anything that I do outside of our normal routine is enough to make my children feel special.  I change things up just often enough to keep them guessing but not so often that the change becomes the new normal.  I always make sure that they have a fruit or a vegetable with lunch and they get a small dessert sometimes, but not always.  I am trying to teach my four children that balance is the key to a healthy diet and I have to admit that I am very happy that they seem to prefer carrots and yogurt to junk food - most days anyway!

Oh How the Imagination Grows
By Pam Worthen, About my child Leah

           I see that as Leah grows that her imagination grows right along with her.  When she is pretend talking on her telephone, she is having longer conversations with her pretend friends.  Just a few weeks ago, it would be a short word or two but now she actually holds a conversation.  She likes to hide from pretend things.  She will make a school bus out of a stepping block taking turns with me being the driver.  We make the step rock back and forth for a bumpy ride.  Then we lean to the left and right when she makes a turn with her invisible steering wheel.  She knows that a green light means go and a red light means stop so she will yell out the light color so we know whether to stop or go.  You can tell her little mind is growing on the inside as much as she is growing on the outside.


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