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Toddler - Week #115

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Your 27-month-old toddler (week 115)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

Did She Really Just Say That?
           All toddlers, from the sweetest of the sweet to the crabbiest of crabs, will at one point be the "bad guy."  Whether your toddler rarely exhibits her alter-ego or chooses to share it with innocent victims every day, it is still important that you rein her in and teach her how to act more appropriately.

       The question right now, is how do you teach a 27-month-old toddler to pick and choose her words wisely when she has so few to select from?  And how do you teach her to keep some things to herself and not shout them across the check-out counter at the grocery store?

       For starters, try and explain in the simplest terms possible about "feelings."  The best time and place to educate your little one about this concept, is when she is actually experiencing a feeling.  So, whether she is happy, sad, angry, scared, excited, nervous, or tired, provide her with the word that goes along with what she is experiencing  at that moment, and she will be able to make the connection between the word, the situation and the feeling.  Next, explain to your toddler that everyone has feelings, just like she does, and that everyone's feelings can be hurt sometimes just like hers.

       Developing a sense of empathy is the first step in stopping your toddler from pointing out the "differences" that she is noticing among people.  And now that this concept is beginning to emerge in your toddler, it is the perfect time for you to begin explaining that people come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors, and that everyone can be sensitive to certain comments and actions.

       When your little one sees something that is unlike anything she has seen before, her instinct is to point it out and share it with you.  Unfortunately, when this occurs you are often not the only one who she shares this with, and on many occasions you may find yourself desperately hiding behind the box of Cheerios while waiting in line.

       If you do happen to find yourself in an embarrassing situation, apologize for your toddler, but be sure to have her apologize as well.  Most importantly, with the situation still fresh in your toddler's mind (but the "innocent bystander" is out of earshot), explain to your toddler in simple language that what she said was "not nice," that the person's "feelings were hurt," and if possible, provide your toddler a more appropriate alternative for the words that crossed her lips.

       By teaching your toddler at an early age that people are still people, and playmates are still playmates, no matter what they may look like, sound like, or even smell like, you are helping your child to be more a open-minded and less judgmental individual...qualities that will inevitably make this world a much better place.


Poor Impulse Control
           "I see it, I need it...you have it, I want it...NOW!"  Having control over his own impulses may not be your toddler's strongest suit this month, however it has vastly improved...really, it has.  His daily bouts of pushing, poking, prodding, screaming, crying, hitting, kicking, and (every parent's favorite) whining may appear to run rampant all day, every day, but their duration and frequency are actually making a slow, yet steady departure.

       Keep in mind that your toddler learns by doing things.  He is driven to explore and experiment not only with every item that he can get his hands on, but with every new behavior and emotion that he can muster up as well.  Innocent curiosity about how his actions can impact you, as well as himself, is the driving force behind much of what your toddler is doing right now, so be patient.

       When your toddler's mind is set on doing something this month, or he is acting out in a way that is less than stellar, your best bet it is to channel his behavior into something that will benefit all parties involved.  For example, if your toddler is set on playing ball in your living room with the golf ball that he recently found stashed under a pillow cushion, think twice before you act.  Instead of grabbing the ball out of his hand before it finds it's way through the front of the television, have him roll it to you on the floor (giving him control), and then roll him back a softer and less destructive version, all the while telling him how fun and special the "new" one is.  Everyone wins, you maintain control of the situation, a tantrum is avoided, and your television still works.

       Simply put, your toddler wants to feel in control and does not like when his "fun" is cut short.  For the most part, his impulses are still getting the best of him, and he is still unaware of the trouble that some of his actions may get him into.  Do your best to allow his exploration and experimentation to continue, however, take the time to "creatively manipulate" things when you see your toddler headed in the wrong direction.  Let him take the lead, but keep him on the right path, and then sit back and watch your toddler learn about the world, in the only way that he knows how.


           Feelings Book       

       This is a wonderful activity to teach your toddler about various emotions and feelings.  It can also be a helpful tool for you and your toddler to use together when he is unable to express how he is feeling.

       To begin, cut out pictures from magazines that show people expressing different emotions.  Look for happy, sad, scared, tired, excited, and angry faces in particular, and be sure that the faces being cut out are large enough for your toddler to see.  Next, hand-over-hand, glue the different faces/emotions onto small sheets of paper, and be certain that only one emotion is represented on each page.  Lastly, when all of the pages are complete, attach them together and form a book.

       At this point, sit with your toddler and talk about the different emotions in his book.  Have a discussion about moments when he has experienced the different emotions represented, and encourage him to "act out" the various feelings he sees.

       This is a great book to keep around and continuously add to as your toddler begins to experience new emotions.  It is also a wonderful tool for your toddler to be able to reference when he is unable to find the words to express how he is feeling.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           This was a fun activity for my twin 27-month-old boys.  Because I have been camera-happy lately, I've collected a wide variety of photos representing Andrew and Devin in various emotional states, and I chose to use these instead of using pictures from magazines.  After locating a fair representation of both boys, I then laid all of the images on the floor in front of us, and began to pick out the best ones.

       Together we discussed the various emotions represented in each picture, and had a blast acting them out as well.  Once we narrowed down our selection, we then proceeded to create our books (yes, we had to make two...sharing is not in the forefront of either of the boys' minds at the moment), and when they were completed, sat down to flip through them.

       Andrew and Devin loved to see pictures of themselves represented on various pages, and we were able to connect specific situations to feelings, and then learn the correct word to associate with each.  I thought this was a wonderful way to reinforce and learn about the different emotions that the boys experience every day (more like every 15 minutes lately) and it also provided them with a great way to explain to me how they were feeling at a given time, although it is usually quite obvious.

       My next plan is to take this book a step further and create pages with Devin stealing toys from Andrew, Andrew hitting Devin, Devin sitting on Andrew, Andrew taking Devin's sippy cup, and Devin hiding Andrew's blankie.  At least if they could point to correct picture...I would know who belongs in the Time-Out chair!


  Have you begun to wonder...
           What is the best way to handle "battles" with my 27-month-old?       

       Although a more independent toddler can be wonderful, it can also be very difficult on so many levels.  Butting heads with your little one and battling over things from which fork he wants to use, to holding your hand in the parking lot, may leave you feeling like everything you say and do is challenged lately.

       Battles are an inevitable part of having a toddler, and finding a way to handle them in a way in that everyone wins is your best strategy.  Although there may be no such thing as compromising with your little one at this age, there is such a thing as "creativity".  By "tweaking" the situation just enough to re-gain control, while allowing your toddler to win just a little bit, everyone's happier in the end.

       It is also important this month that you pick and choose your battles carefully.  Although it is important that rules be consistent, sometimes the best thing to do is to make an exception once in a while.  When an exception is made, the key to success is that YOU are making the decision to make the exception, and that YOU, as the parent, are still in charge.  When rules are thrown to the wayside, it is something special, and your toddler should be made aware that it is exactly that...special, and not something that will always occur.  It is true...sometimes rules are just meant to be broken, or at least bent...a little.


Switching from the Crib to a Bed
By Julie Stiglets, edHelperBaby

           Making the move to a bed is a big milestone in the lives of toddlers and parents.  Toddlers can have a hard time adjusting and parents may be in shock at just how fast their baby is growing up.  Many children make the switch sometime between ages two and three and a half.  Many parents want to make the switch because they are afraid of their little one climbing out of the crib and getting hurt.  Some want to make the switch because another baby is on the way.  Whatever the reason, make sure your toddler is ready for the change.  Some toddlers will give up their crib with no problem, while others will have a hard time.  If you decide to make the switch, here are a few tips:
  • Maybe start out with a "toddler bed" first.  Many cribs now can turn into a toddler bed.
  • Put your toddler's new bed where the crib used to be.
  • If using a twin bed instead of a toddler bed, put up guardrails to prevent falling out.
  • Help your toddler get excited about the switch.  Maybe let him help pick out the bed (if you're buying one), or maybe let him pick out new sheets for his bed.
       Remember, some toddlers will make the change with ease, while others may have a hard time switching from crib to bed.   You may find that your once wonderful sleeper takes hours to fall asleep in the new bed or maybe your toddler wakes up in the middle of the night now and wanders around the house.  Do not give up too easy.  Give the new change a few days before making any final decisions.  If after a few days your toddler does not adjust and is still upset, bring the crib back.  He is probably just not ready yet for a bed.  Try again later.  Your toddler will not sleep in his crib forever!       


Riley Just Was Not Ready to Give Up Her Crib!
By Julie Stiglets, About my child Riley Kate

           I remember when Riley started climbing out of her bed.  She was twenty-six months old and never even tried before this day.  I put her down for a nap, went in to check on her about twenty minutes later and found her on the floor playing with her babies!  From then on, it became an every day thing for her.  I was so worried about her falling and hurting herself.  After a few days, I had my husband make a change to the crib.  He just had to change one side and the crib turned into a toddler bed, sort of a daybed.  There, I thought, she can get out now without hurting herself!  For the next ten days, I dealt with her taking over an hour to go sleep, which was hardly ever the case with Riley.  Also, she was getting up several times during the night.  I would hear her bedroom door shut.  I would jump up and find her in our living room, usually on our couch.  Oh, I was so worried about the thought of her wandering the house at night.  She just was not sleeping like she used to sleep and it had been over a week since she had experienced a full night's sleep.

       We decided to turn her toddler bed back into the crib.  My husband and I watched her to see how she got out of her bed. We wanted to see how dangerous it was or was not for Riley and found she does a good job at getting out of her crib safely!  As for right now, we feel the crib is safer than her wandering the house at night alone.  The next night she slept through the entire night.  She still climbs out of her crib but it is in the mornings.  She wakes up, climbs out of her crib and comes to find me.       


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