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Toddler - Week #118

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Your 28-month-old toddler (week 118)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

The Dawdling Toddler
           Does your toddler appear to move at a snail's pace lately?  Essentially taking forever and a day to move 10 feet?  Well, if this sounds all too familiar, don't expect it to change any time soon.  What you are experiencing right now is called "a toddler's pace," and it is absolutely normal, completely predictable, and probably a little bit frustrating for anyone trying to get anything done in a timely manner.

       There are several reasons why your little one is unable to keep up with the hustle and bustle of anyone over 3 feet tall this month, and trying to get her to pick up the pace will do more harm than good.

       For starters, although your toddler's fine and gross motor skills have vastly improved over the past few months, she is still relatively inexperienced when it comes to getting her hands and feet to do what her mind wants, especially when she feels pressured.  Next, keep in mind that when you give your toddler a task, like "go get your shoes so we can leave," or "go and get your jacket," she is very likely to stumble upon something else that grabs her attention along the way, and may easily forget why she was headed in that direction to begin with.  Furthermore, your little 28-month-old has absolutely no sense of time, and your requests to "hurry up!" or concerns regarding being late have completely fallen, and are falling upon, deaf ears.

       There are a few ways to make your excursions a bit more pleasant for everyone right now, and although they may not cause your toddler to pick up the pace, they will keep things running more smoothly.  When you do need to be somewhere at a certain time, simply leave space in your schedule to allow for dawdling.  By dawdling and lagging behind, your toddler is actually getting quite a little education along the way, so despite it being frustrating for you, it is an important part of the learning process.  From the leaf that she picks up, to the rock that she kicks, to the caterpillar on the tree trunk that she has to stop and watch, these are all experiences that are teaching your toddler about the world and how it works, so try not to rush her.  We all need to slow down a bit these days, so take this as an opportunity to "stop and smell the roses," along side your toddler, even if it's just for a little while.


It's Time To Leave...But, I Don't Want To Go!
           Your 28-month-old toddler thrives on routine, and when it's time to change scenery and move from one place to another, you may be faced with quite a challenge.  As the parent of a stubborn toddler, this month it is more essential than ever that you keep a few tricks up your sleeve, and practice patience, patience and a little more patience.

       Making the transition easier for your toddler is rule number one, so take the cues that he is giving off and make them work for you.  If your toddler is working on building a block tower, help him to finish it before you try to leave.  Or if he is trying to climb up the ladder on the playground but having difficulty, help him complete the task.  When your toddler becomes fixated on success, assist in getting him to accomplish what he has his mind set on, and the move you're trying to make from one place to the next may actually go a bit smoother.

       Instead of saying "we're leaving now," try and give your toddler adequate notice about your impending departure.  Start by giving him fair warning about ten minutes before you're planning on making your exit, and then continue to clue him in on the count down every few minutes from that point on until time is up.  When it is time to go, provide him with something to look forward to when he leaves (like picking up an older sibling from school), however do your best not to go the bribery route (like "I'll buy you ice cream") or else he'll come to expect it every time.

       Another great way to quietly move on is to bring your toddler a drink or snack from home and offer it when it's time to go.  Quite often your little one becomes pre-occupied when playing or focused on a task, and he'll forget that he's hungry or thirsty.  By providing him with a cue or reminder that you have a juice box and bag of Cheerios in the car waiting, your toddler may drop whatever it is that he's doing and move onto his next quest without hesitation.  Along the same lines, there's never anything wrong with sneaking your toddler's favorite stuffed animal or blanket into the diaper bag too...and don't forget to keep the stroller handy either.  It's much easier to wrangle a toddler when you have something to buckle him into, as opposed to trying to carry him away on your own free will.


           "Island Hop"       

       This hopping activity not only encourages your toddler to practice her jumping skills, but it can also come in handy when you are trying to get from point A to point B.

       The best part about this is all you'll need to start are about 10 large circle cut-outs that are big enough for your toddler to jump upon.  Once you have your circles, arrange them on the floor in a line, zig-zag, or circle and have your toddler hop from one to the next until she has moved over all of them.  It is also a wonderful idea to use circles that are various colors, and have your toddler tell you what color she is jumping onto as she moves throughout the room.

       When you are out with your toddler and trying to "motivate" her to move a little bit faster, you can make up a modified version of this activity on the spot.  Instead of having your toddler hop from one circle to the next, have your toddler hop from one object to the next ("jump to the tree" or "hop to the purple flowers").  By providing your toddler with a task to focus on that is enjoyable and physical, she may be less likely to get distracted along the way...and I did say "less likely," not absolutely.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           As a mother of three little boys, I am always searching for activities that are not only educational and fun, but also those that allow my children to run around a bit, hopefully burning off as much energy as possible, eventually leading to a few moments of down-time at the end of the day.

       The "island hop" activity fulfilled all of my needs, was so simple to set up, and provided my boys with a wonderful rainy day activity.  Prior to beginning, I had acquired five different colors of poster board, and decided to cut each color into a different shaped "island" (circle, triangle, square, heart, and star) instead of using only circles, and when completed, I was left with ten large, brightly colored shapes for my boys to hop across.

       I then positioned my shapes into a large circle, and placed Andrew and Devin across from one another to begin.  One by one, I asked them to hop onto the shape in front of them, and together we talked about the shape they had landed upon, as well as its color.  Both boys really enjoyed taking turns, and seeing how far their little legs could carry them, and little did they know, they even got a bit of education along the way.

       By the time Andrew and Devin had made it around the entire circle, they were off again for round two, and then round three when I finally intervened as lunchtime was nearing.  Deciding to take full advantage of the boys' motivation to continue with this activity, I repositioned the shapes into a long line, and had them hopping into the kitchen without hesitation, placed them into their booster seats and had a struggle-free lunch.

       Tempting my luck, when their plates were clear, I once again repositioned the shapes now leading the boys from the kitchen into their bedroom.  Foolishly I thought that by chance Andrew and Devin would hop right across the floor, into their room, into their beds, and go down for a nap as easily as they had switched from playing to eating lunch.  Who was I kidding?


  Have you begun to wonder...
           How can I get my toddler and I out of the house on time in the morning?       

       Let's clear one thing up right off the bat...you can not get your toddler to move faster.  What you can do however, is work around his pace, and with a bit of creative manipulation, get your toddler from point A to point B without a struggle.

       If you know you have to be somewhere at a specific time, begin the day by giving yourself a head start.  If possible, prepare and do some things the night before like bathing, picking out clothes, preparing the diaper bag and making lunches.  Just getting up 15 minutes earlier than usual can make a huge difference with your morning schedule, and it can also provide you with a little moment of silence before the chaos begins.

       It may also be wise to give your toddler a head start in the morning, and try to wake him a bit earlier than usual.  However, in some circumstances waking a sleepy toddler may cause more dawdling than assistance, so go this route only if you think it may be beneficial.

       As you well know, toddlers this age are very easily distracted.  Because of this it is definitely in your best interest to keep the television off and toys out of sight when you are trying to get your toddler ready to go somewhere.  There is nothing more difficult or frustrating than trying to get a toddler dressed while he is determined to watch his favorite show, or play with his favorite toy.  Out of sight, out of mind, is the general rule of thumb right now, particularly if you would like to get out of your house before lunch time.

       So to sum it all up, be sure that your expectations are appropriate for your toddler, don't pressure him to move faster than he can, and remember that he's not dawdling around on purpose.  Over time, like everything else, his ability to gain forward momentum will improve as well.


Teaching colors to a 2 year old.
By Julie Stiglets, edHelperBaby

           Most two year old children are capable of learning four to ten standard colors some earlier and some later.  Some children will catch on quickly, while other children may take a little longer.  Let children learn at their own pace.  However, there are ways you can help your little one learn.  One of the fastest ways to help teach color recognition is through color matching.

       Take a bunch of different colored blocks or Legos.  Do not worry about naming the colors right now.  First, just put a few red in a group, then a few blue in another group, then a few yellow and so forth.   Then with the blocks you have left, ask your little one to help you put the rest in the correct pile. If he puts the wrong color in a pile, simply say, "No, not that one.  Let's find the same color."  When your child does find the correct color pile, make sure you praise him and let him know how proud you are!  Then continue to match the rest of the blocks.  Remember, you are not teaching the color names at this time but you are just color matching.  If your child continues to correctly color match, then you can start to introduce the names.  Do not try to teach too many colors at once unless they are up for it.  Start with two until the colors are consistently in their vocabulary.   Hare are a few fun ways to teach colors:
  • Teach colors through flashcards which should be true to life i.e. yellow sun, brown bear
  • Teach colors through food by using a yellow banana, red strawberry, green lime, orange, etc.  Have your child tell you what color they want and then give them a piece of that color food.
  • Use paints or colors to draw with your child.  Make sure to call out each color as your child is using it.   Also, you could let your child dip their hand in paint and create hand prints on a large sheet of paper.  Say the color of the hand print when done and then wash and repeat.  Most little ones like to get messy, so this can add more fun to the learning experience!
  • Go to the library.  There are many books you can read to your little one to help teach colors.
       If you would rather not "teach" color specifically, try integrating it into everyday conversation.  While handling objects in the house, mention their color.  If your child asks for the ball, make sure to say the color.  "Oh, here is your ball.  The ball is blue."  Or when getting your little one dressed in the mornings, talk about the color of the clothes.  "Look, do you want to wear this red shirt?"  When eating dinner, ask what color is the corn.  Remember, some children will catch on quickly and others may take a while. Gradually, it will be sinking in.  Each child learns at his own pace.  Give it time!       


Every Child is Different
By Julie Stiglets, About my child Riley Kate

           Riley just was not interested in learning her colors.  When she turned two, I did some of the same activities with her that I did with Emma, her older sister, at the same age.  Riley did not want to learn the color of the blocks. She just wanted to play and build with them.  When we colored, she switched crayons too fast for me to even call out the color.  I quickly learned that I was not going to be able to "teach" colors to Riley. She is a very independent girl and likes to do things on her own terms.  I would just have to integrate color into our everyday conversation.  That is exactly what I did.  Riley now knows two colors consistently.  I do not want to push or confuse her.  I do not make colors a part of every single conversation we have, but I do integrate colors into some part everyday!  It won't be long until she knows many more!  Riley is very bright and strong-willed and definitely teaches me a thing or two!!


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