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|Toddler - Week #117|
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|Living By, and Understanding "The Rules"|
Although it may seem early, your toddler has reached the perfect age to begin not only living by the rules, but understanding the reasons behind them as well. By 28 months, your toddler has experienced his fair share of trying to push things to the extreme, has had limits sets, boundaries put in place, and rules spelled out in black-and-white. He has slowly figured out that when he misbehaves there will be consequences, and that you, more often than not, have the final say regarding what does and does not fly in your household.|
Your toddler may appear (slightly) more willing to adhere to the rules at this age, however it is also very likely that he has absolutely no idea why your rules have been put into place. Up until now, your primary focus has been to get your toddler to follow the rules, and there was no reason to give an explanation as why they were put there to begin with because he was unable to understand. Fortunately, now that your toddler is older, he is able to process "why" certain things must happen, and "because I said so" is no longer an acceptable answer. Today, your toddler's own will to learn about the world around him provides you with the perfect opportunity to begin teaching, so take advantage of his intrigue and innate desire to learn, because you've got some explaining to do.
The best way to jump-start this learning process for your toddler is to explain about the rules as he is confronted by them throughout the day. Start from the very beginning, break them down into basic terms, and keep in mind that simple rules require simple explanations, or they'll go in one ear and out the other.
Keep the rules consistent, specific and clear, and in a language that your toddler can understand. Also, keep in mind that your toddler, although greatly improved, may still have great difficulty making generalizations. If you don't want your toddler to stand on any furniture in your home, be certain he understands that you mean all furniture, and not just the piece that he is standing upon while you reiterate this rule once again. Basically, you want to allow your toddler to feel that he is able to follow the rules and be successful, so be certain he understands what they are, and that he is able to do what is being asked of him over and over again.
When dealing with a 28-month-old toddler, be sure that you repeat the rules often, keep them reasonable, and be certain that you, as a parent, are also willing and able to follow them as well. Most of all, do not expect compliance from your toddler every time, and understand that kids will be kids. Sometimes your toddler may honestly forget, sometimes he may "pretend" to forget, and sometimes, well...he just hopes that you forget too.
|The Un-Flexible Toddler|
One second you're telling your toddler to follow the rules, the next second you are begging her to be more flexible. What gives? If this is a conundrum that you often find yourself in, just imagine how confusing it must be for your toddler.|
At this age, your toddler will go out of her way to have things go according to her plan. If she wants to wear her purple polka-dotted pants every day for a week, wants to eat out of the same elephant shaped bowl every breakfast, and wants to use only her special Elmo spoon for every meal...so help you if you should try and change her course of action. Flexibility and being a 28-month-old toddler do not go hand-in-hand, to say the very least. However, inflexibility and being a 28-month-old toddler...now there's a match made in heaven.
Your two-(and a little)-year old is at a stage right now, when she is beginning to truly develop a sense of who she is. A strong-will, a sense of entitlement, understanding her likes and dislikes, and being able to express herself, are a rock-solid foundation just asking for your toddler to begin laying down her own law upon. Delicately balancing and respecting your toddler's needs while showing her how to "adapt" when life just doesn't go her way, are lessons that every parent of a 2-year-old toddler should teach this month. However, you must also pick and choose your battles wisely.
Just as your toddler starts to believe that she is gaining control of the world around her, she is also beginning to realize that there are just some things that continue to remain unpredictable. As she grows older, and is exposed to new people, places and things every day, her small place in this great big world becomes more and more obvious to her. To make your toddler feel better, and to have a sense of structure and control in her life when things are beginning to feel a bit uncertain, your toddler finds comfort in resorting back to her old "rituals" day in, and day out.
As silly as it may seem, in essence your toddler has developed a simple defense mechanism for coping with stressful situations. And when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. I'll be the first to admit that my favorite pair of old Levi jeans and old stretched-out sweatshirt from college are always within arm's reach when things get a little crazy around here...which is quite often with 28-month-old twins. So, whenever I see my little guys begin to stomp their feet in the morning demanding to wear their favorite red striped pajama bottoms, yellow galoshes, and Batman capes to the breakfast table, while they eat their Fruity Cheerios with half a banana on the side in their Cookie Monster bowls with their designated blue and green spoons...I just go to my closet, take out my "old comfy stand-bys"...and roll with it.
Reward Charts |
Reward charts can be a wonderful way to provide your toddler with a sense of pride when she exhibits good behavior, has success on the potty, or achieves a specific goal. However, quite often toddlers this age may have a difficult time grasping the concept of a "chart," and the sticker method which appears to be the standard graph format for many parents, just doesn't have the impact that it may have with older children.
One alternative that may work for your 28-month-old toddler is to create a "puzzle reward chart" instead. Simply take a large picture or poster of your toddler's favorite character and cut it into a simple puzzle. Every time that your child is successful at what ever it is that you're working towards, add a new piece to the puzzle until it is complete. It is best to keep the puzzle somewhere that your toddler can view it regularly so that he is always reminded of the goal he is working towards. Also be sure that your toddler is able to recognize the image from the start, and that it is simple enough for him to put together independently.
|Andrew and Devin's Opinion|
I have recently taken on the daunting task of potty training my 28-month-old twin boys. Despite having little to no faith that we will be achieving success any time soon, I am determined to give it a try. And knowing that sticker reward charts had no effect with my older son, I was willing to give anything a try that may provide my boys with a little incentive.|
To begin, I found two "Little Einstein" posters, one for Andrew and one for Devin, and glued them each to a piece of thin cardboard. I then cut a simple frame out of poster board for each of the completed puzzles to fit into, and attached the two frames to the refrigerator doors.
Next, I cut both puzzles into 6 pieces each, and attached one piece of each puzzle to the designated frame on the fridge. At this point I brought Andrew and Devin into the kitchen to show them their "charts." I then simply explained that if they went "pee pee" in their potties they would get another piece of their puzzles, and asked if they would like to try...wishful thinking. Instead, they both looked at me, firmly said "No," and began to deceitfully giggle.
Later in the day, I found Andrew and Devin sitting on their potties in the bathroom fully clothed. Progress?...or so I thought. Next, I found Andrew and Devin sitting in the living room with their potties on their heads. Two steps forward, one step back.
On and off over the course of the past few days, both boys have shown an interest in the incomplete puzzles adorning the refrigerator doors, and they have asked on numerous occasions for the "missing ones." However as of today, the puzzles remain "broken" according to Andrew and Devin, and they have not yet taken the strides necessary to add any more pieces.
|Have you begun to wonder...|
How do you set limits when your toddler's demands are inappropriate or unsafe? |
Quite often over the next few months, you may find yourself in situations where your toddler's "requests" or "choices" are completely inappropriate for one reason or another. Once you have made the decision to "pick" a battle with your little one, there are a few measures that may be taken in order to turn a potentially difficult situation into a "teachable moment." Most importantly, your toddler may actually come out unscathed in the end, with not only a better understanding about limits, but possibly even a slightly more flexible outlook as well.
When your toddler's stubbornness kicks in full force, it is essential that his feelings are validated. Let him know that you understand how strongly he feels about his "decision," and how upset it must make him when he can't have his way.
At this point, set the limits and offer a simple explanation for why things will not be going his way. If something he wants to wear is dirty, tell him. If something he wants to eat is unavailable, tell him. Let him know that he can have it later, but for now it's just not possible. And if his request is dangerous, then all bets are off, no ifs, ands, or buts.
The next step is to offer your toddler two alternative choices. Keep these suggestions limited and let him make the decision in order to provide him with a feeling of control. Of course, there is a strong possibility that your toddler may choose to have a screaming fit instead of making a choice, so if this occurs try your best to stay calm, cool and collected and simply reinforce your offer.
The last thing you want to do in the end is to allow your toddler to negotiate, as this will do nothing but undermine the fact that you have the final say as his parent. It is essential that you adhere to the limits that you are setting, no matter what your toddler does or says (or screams) to change your ways. So accept the fact that this may be a difficult stretch for you and your toddler to go through, but teaching your toddler the importance of limits as well as flexibility, will absolutely pay off in the end...until he becomes a teenager.
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