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Toddler - Week #120

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Your 28-month-old toddler (week 120)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

I Want To Do It Myself!  But...I'm Afraid
           Take a moment and try to enter the mind of your 28-month-old toddler.  You love to explore, love to figure out how things work, and love to do things for yourself...by yourself.  The clincher is, that despite having grandiose visions of what you would like to accomplish, your coordination and dexterity...although improved, your strength...although growing, and your attention span...well, that speaks for itself, just are not cooperating as well as you would like.

       So, what's your plan of action?   A) You try new things a few times and move onto whatever grabs your attention next, B) You scream at the top of your lungs while flailing around on the ground, or C) You look up at your parents with your big, adorable eyes, and pass whatever is frustrating you, into the hands of someone who can fix anything (or so you think).

       Now it's time to put your parenting hat back on, and figure out why plan C may be a poor choice for your toddler.  If you find that this route is your child's "modus operandi," she may actually be afraid of trying new things, and it is high time to break the cycle before you have a little perfectionist on your hands.

       Take a few minutes to think about the standards you have set for your toddler.  Could they possibly be just a little too high, and just out of your toddler's reach?  I ask, because sometimes a toddler can become fearful of trying new things because her parent's expectations are unattainable, and she does not want to disappoint by "failing" them.  If this is the case, your toddler may choose to sit on the sidelines or pass the buck to someone else more capable, instead of giving a new challenge a shot herself.

       As parents, sometimes we need to step back and take a look at the role we play in our children's behavior.  It is essential that we recognize the direct correlation between the actions and words that we choose, and how they impact our children, for good and for bad.  If you do believe you've been a bit too hard, ease up a little and watch your toddler flourish.  Make her feel that her opinions are important, praise her for the small things, and openly invite her to join in and try again, and again, and again.


Your "Frustrated" and "Frustrating" Toddler
           Every day, your toddler is becoming increasingly aware of his limitations.  He wants to try everything, but is constantly faced with the realization that there are still many things that he just cannot do.  Failure is something that no one enjoys, whether you're big or small, but there is some good that does come out of it.  Your toddler does not realize, but every time that he is faced with a challenge, it propels and motivates him to push forward and keep on trying.

       Although your natural instinct is to try and protect your toddler, it may actually be in your best interest to let him experience a bit of frustration before you jump in to the rescue.  Teaching your toddler how to cope with uncomfortable feelings, while helping him to understand that perseverance and practice usually pay off, will prepare your toddler for life's little disappointments and inevitable bumps that will appear down the road.

       Now keep in mind that a little bit of frustration for your toddler is all right but not too much...he is only two after all.  If presented with more than he can handle, your toddler may melt into a puddle of emotions on the floor and scream his little heart out.  Therefore, in order to minimize frustrations so your toddler is faced with a "challenge," and you are not faced with a tantrum, there are a few things that you can do to sway things in your favor.

       First, be sure that your child's toys are age appropriate even if you believe he is a genius.  Challenging a child beyond his years will most likely wreak havoc right now, so it's just not worth it.  Try to create an environment for your child where he can be successful, and reach, play with, and feel in control of his own little world.  Along the same lines, be the best first teacher that your toddler has, and take the time to teach your little student how to use his toys, brush his teeth, and feed himself correctly. Teaching your toddler these simple skills will not only lead to a more independent child, but it will also teach him that he can count on himself to get things done and boost his growing ego.

       It is also essential that your expectations are appropriate for your individual child.  Know your toddler's abilities as well as limitations, and remember that your toddler is frustrated enough right now that he can't get his hands to cooperate with his mind, so don't add fuel to the fire.  If your toddler is up for a challenge and wants to figure something out on his own...sit back and watch.  When you see his motivation waning, and steam begins to come out of his ears, try to lend a hand, but feel him out before you do.  This age is a difficult one, and sometimes lending a hand can actually cause your toddler to become more upset than relieved, so let him determine how many extra cooks he'd like to have in the kitchen.

       No matter what, let your toddler know how proud you are of his attempts.  Discuss what it's like to be frustrated, validate his feelings as true and real, and if he wants to throw in the towel...let him (for now).


           A Treasure Hunt       

       This is a fun activity for you and your toddler to do together, and it can also help to improve your toddler's ability to follow directions.  Take your toddler on a treasure hunt throughout your home in search of hidden clues that have been strategically placed on specific objects in each room.  For example, Clue #1 may be a picture of a banana, and your toddler should have to go and find the bananas in the kitchen.  Attached to the bananas would be Clue #2, a picture of a rubber ducky.  Your toddler would then go and find her rubber ducky in the bathroom, to which Clue #3 would be attached.

       Make sure each clue is something that would obviously only be located in one room of your home to ensure that your toddler will know where to go, and  only have as many clues as you think your toddler can handle.  Then at the end of your hunt, place a large, brightly decorated box with a special "treasure" inside, and help him to celebrate a job well done.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           My 28-month-old twins, Andrew and Devin, are definitely "stereotypical" toddlers when it comes to following directions...or not following directions.  And although their intentions may be good, the chances that they actually comply with my requests without getting completely side-tracked are slim to none.

       Therefore, when given the chance to work on improving their direction following skills, I ran with it.  I thought that the "Treasure Hunt" activity may actually intrigue my boys just long enough to hold their attention, and I was quite certain that they may even be able to work as a team in search of the "hidden" clues in each room.

       Prior to wrangling my boys in for this activity, I drew five pictures of specific, recognizable items on large "clue cards," and placed them next to the items they would be searching for in each room of our house.  Then at the end of the search, I placed a large box that I had decorated with brightly colored wrapping paper and ribbons, and inside were a few new coloring books and large boxes of crayons.

       Next, I showed Andrew and Devin a large image of a banana and asked them, "Where are the bananas?"  With a little prompting, both boys raced into the kitchen where the bananas are always kept, and found a large image of a soccer ball placed next to them.  I then prompted them to find their soccer balls, and they again raced (knocking each other down in the process) to their room where they are kept, and stumbled upon their basket with all of their balls.  Attached to the basket, I had placed a large picture of their favorite chair, and at this point the boys required no prompting and charged ahead to see their next clue.

       At the end of their little adventure throughout the house, the boys had successfully made it to their final destination, the kitchen table.  There it was, the large box of "treasure," just waiting to be torn into.  After Andrew and Devin's attempts to climb on top of the table were thwarted, I carefully placed the box on the ground for them to tear into, and anxiously awaited their reaction to finding the new items inside.

       Needless to say, upon finding the new books and crayons (which were immediately tossed aside), Andrew and Devin both managed to climb inside of the large box themselves, close the lid, and giggle to their little hearts' content.  Two seconds later, Andrew's head popped back out of the box, looked right at me and said, "Tanks for my new box!"  What a treasure...


  Have you begun to wonder...
           Why does my toddler have such a difficult time following directions?       

       Being 28-months-old is not as easy as it looks.  Your toddler wants to be independent, but remains completely dependent, he wants to make you happy, but is as stubborn as a mule, and he wants to pay attention, but is distracted by everything and anything in his path.  All things considered, it's amazing that he listens to you at all!

       When it comes to following directions, a "typical" toddler this age should be able to follow a simple two-step command, given without any gestures...sometimes, but, don't hold your breath.  There are however, a few things you can do to increase the odds that your toddler will actually follow through with what you ask.

       To begin, be sure that your directions are not too vague, yet not too complex.  Keep them clear and simple, and break them down into small, manageable steps that your toddler can easily follow.  Also, don't forget to provide your toddler with enough information so that he understands what is being asked of him, before being left to his own devices.

       Now, even when (and if) your toddler appears "ready" and "able" to follow your directions, don't be surprised if he's a little less "willing" than you would hope.  This month, like last month and next month too, your toddler is marching to the beat of his own little drummer, and it may take a while before he wants to join your parade.


Brownie Bites
By Julie Stiglets, edHelperBaby

           Love brownies?  Does your little toddler love brownies?  Well, this is the perfect way to make them for you, your toddler and anyone else!  My mom recently received a gift basket and inside it were mini brownies.  Not only were they very tasty, but they were so cute!  They are the perfect size for your toddler.  Instead of giving your child a big square sized brownie, that will most likely crumble and make a mess, offer a mini muffin sized brownie!

             If your child likes to help you in the kitchen, this is a great one for you to do together.
  • All you need is a box of brownie mix, a mini muffin pan and if you like, mini muffin paper cup liners.  The paper cup liners will make cleaning up much easier!
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and then follow the instructions on the back of the brownie box!
  • You can have your toddler help stir the mixture.
  • After the brownie mix is ready, get your mini muffin pan ready.  You can let your little one put the paper cup liners in the pan.
  • If you are choosing to not use the paper cups, make sure you grease the bottom of the pan or use a non-stick spray.
  • Now it is time to start filling the paper cups with your brownie mix.  You will want them to be filled about of the way.  Try using a really small spoon or scoop for this part.
  • When the cups are all filled and the oven is preheated, put the brownies into the oven and set your timer.
  • Bake around 15-20 minutes.
  • You can test them by placing a toothpick in the center of one.  If the toothpick comes out clean, then your brownies are ready!
  • Let them cool and then ENJOY!
  • You should get between 40 and 48 brownie bites from the one box mix.


My Girls Love These!
By Julie Stiglets, About my child Riley and Emma

           I made these brownie bites with my girls last weekend and they loved them.  They especially enjoyed helping me make them.  I let Emma, my four year old daughter, help me gather all the ingredients.  Riley, my two year old daughter, helped me put all the ingredients into the bowl, except for the eggs as I had to add them.  Then it was time to stir.  I decided to stir while they placed the paper cup liners in the mini muffin pan.  They were so excited!  Not only do they like helping me cook but they love chocolate!  After I put the brownies in the oven, they could not wait for them to come out of the oven.  It took right about twenty minutes for them to cook.  After I took the brownies out of the oven, they had to cool.

       Soon it was time for some milk and a brownie bite or two!  They were truly the perfect size.  I gave each of my girls two brownie bites and a cup of milk and it was perfect for them.  Although my four year old daughter did convince her daddy that she needed just one more because, after all, she is bigger than her sister!   There was hardly a mess left on the table.  I do not know about the rest of you but when my daughters, especially my two year old child, eats a brownie or anything for that matter, there are usually a hundred crumbs left behind.  But not this time, I am telling you that if you are going to make brownies, these brownie bites are the way to go!  Plus, I did not feel that guilty eating one tiny, little brownie bite...or was it two?       


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