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Toddler - Week #121

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Your 29-month-old toddler (week 121)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

Handling Toddler Behavior
           No matter how perfect your little two-year-old may be, there will inevitably be moments when your little angel will suddenly turn into a little rebel.  Whether the drama begins because she is simply hungry, tired, or bored, it should be of no surprise to learn that there is a direct connection between how your toddler feels and how she behaves.

       When (notice I did not say "if") your toddler intentionally or unintentionally breaks one of your top ten rules, there are a few important things to keep in mind, when trying to stop and change the behavior.  The first thing you must do is to let your toddler know that you are not happy with what he has done through your expression and tone of voice, nothing more and nothing less.  And next comes the most important part, where you are given the opportunity to practice consistency, consistency, patience and more patience.

       Although it may be difficult, try your best to act right away when you see that your toddler has broken or is breaking a rule that you have established.  But most importantly, do your best to do it in a calm, cool and collected manner...while you're biting your tongue.  Remember, your toddler will be more responsive to your disciplining techniques if she is doing it out of respect, and not out of fear, so no matter how difficult it may be...set a good example and keep your composure.

       When you do feel yourself losing your temper, take a few seconds, dust off the ole' breathing exercises that you learned in Lamaze, and remind yourself that a little self-discipline will lead to a much more productive and positive disciplinarian in the end.  And if you must, don't hesitate to walk away and call a "time-out" on yourself if you need to, especially before you begin to hand them out to the little person standing before you.


           Think of a "time out" in those exact terms...a time out, a break, a little breather.  Even when we become angry, frustrated or even irate as adults, sometimes the best action that we can take is no action at all.  By simply walking away from whatever is causing our strife, if only for a few minutes, we are able to "re-group" so that we can continue on with our day.  So why is it that so many parents believe that by providing our toddlers with the same opportunity, we are actually doing them more harm than good?  Simply put, if it works for us, why wouldn't it work for our children?

       So here's my point, sometimes the best way to handle intolerable behavior and stop your toddler in his tracks, is to call a time-out, so he can reign himself in and re-gain control.

       Here's how to make it work for you:  First, designate a specific place that the time-outs will take place, and be certain that it is a boring place, devoid of any toys, or anything else that your toddler can amuse himself with (despite the fact that at this age, toddlers can amuse themselves with almost anything).

       Next, as soon as you see your toddler doing something that is either harmful to himself or to someone else, immediately explain to him in simple terms what the behavior is that you would like to stop.  If you see your toddler doing the same thing again, tell him to stop one more time, and warn him that if he does it again, he will be having a time-out.  The key to success is that you use a time-out only when your toddler is intentionally doing something that he knows is not allowed, so by providing him with "two strikes" you are ensuring that he is in fact doing it on purpose.

       So now that you have a place to let your toddler chill out for a few minutes and re-group, and you have made the rules as clear as can be...you're all set.  When you observe your little angel doing something that he knows will lead to a time-out, take the reins and bring him in.  Immediately send (or carry) your toddler to the designated spot, and tell him he is having a time-out.  Explain in simple terms exactly how he wound up there to begin with, and tell him that he is to sit in that spot until his time is up.  The general rule of thumb is one minute per year, so right now your toddler should only be sitting in time-out for two minutes...totally tolerable.

       If your toddler leaves his post early, return him back to the designated spot with as little interaction from you as possible.  Simply put him down, re-state why he is in time-out once again, and then walk away to a place where you can watch him, but he can not watch you.

       When your toddler's time is up, go over to him, get down on his level, and once again reiterate how his behavior resulted in a time-out.  When your point is made, give your little trouble-maker a hug, tell him how much you love him, and then move on.  Once your toddler has done his time, the slate is clean...that is unless he does it again, then you're back to square one.  However this time, he only gets one strike.


           Digging For Treasure       

       Sometimes it's just a good idea to kick back and have some fun.  With all of the rules, boundaries and regulations that your child is faced with these days, it's high time to let loose and get a little dirty.  It's also important that your child is allowed to be a child, and that she knows it's all right to do things "outside of the box," especially when her parents are encouraging it.

       For this activity, ideally you will need a large plastic under-the-bed storage box without the lid.  Next, you will need to acquire "sandbox sand" which can be purchased very inexpensively at any hardware store.  The final step in this process is then to dump as much sand as you see fit into the storage box, and then hide various small items (race cars, little plastic animals, ABC magnets, blocks) in the sand for your toddler to find.  If you would like, you can provide your toddler with a small shovel to aid in her search, however, using her hands will be just as much, if not more, fun.

       This is a great activity for inside, as well as outside, and it does not have to become as big of a mess as you may think.  If you are inside, simply place a large fitted sheet below the storage box prior to beginning, and when your toddler is done with her expedition, remove the box and then carry the extra sand outside in the sheet...or be prepared to pull out the vacuum.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           I loved this...and so did my 29-month-old twins, Andrew and Devin.  If there is a pile of dirt, big or small, in a one-mile radius of my boys...they'll find it.  It's like there's a magnetic attraction that is unstoppable, and no matter what lengths I go to in an attempt to avoid it, they end up knee deep.  Hence the reason that I thought this activity would be perfect for them, especially because I could control the environment...and after all, it was sand, not dirt.

       Because I wanted to surprise Andrew and Devin with this activity, I prepared our "sandbox" in the kitchen (bold move) while they were sleeping.  I opted to hide various items in the box, from race cars to pigs, and ABC's to 123's, and also opted to place a large table cloth, as well as a fitted sheet beneath the "expedition site."

       Upon awakening from their naps, Andrew and Devin stumbled upon our activity, stood gazing, mouths agape, wondering how their mother could possibly allow such a mess to be created on her newly mopped floors.  To break the ice, I began to dig with my hands through the sand, and out popped the letter A.

       No longer able to contain themselves, Andrew and Devin immediately sat next to me (more like on top of me), and began to dig.  Within seconds, both boys found their own treasures and were thrilled to say the very least.  Their digging adventure went on for almost an hour, and I was very pleased with how well they were able to contain their mess (although I was mentally prepared for the worst).


  Have you begun to wonder...
           Should I ever discipline other people's children?       

       The answer to this is a plain and simple yes...and no.  There are "rules" that should be followed regarding stepping in and reprimanding other peoples' children, and it is important that they are followed in order to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

       For starters, it's never wise to discipline someone else's child when the parents are present.  However, it is wise to remove your little one from the vicinity of a child whose parents are ignoring bad behavior, and it is all right to tell your own toddler that you are leaving because someone is not behaving appropriately.

       Furthermore, it is not inappropriate to verbally reprimand another child when you are the designated adult in charge, for example, if you are babysitting or caring for someone else's children in their absence.

       If you witness another person's child poking at, hitting, or biting someone on your watch, step in right away and let him know that his behavior is unacceptable.  Next, turn your attention to the "victim" of his wrath and be certain that the aggressor sees what his actions have resulted in.  Then get down on the level of the little one that is acting out, and in simple language explain that he will not be able to play at your house or with your child if he hurts anyone again.  Let him know that hitting (biting, throwing blocks, pulling hair, etc.) is not allowed or acceptable, and that there will be consequences (like a time-out) if it should occur again.

       Lastly, if you do have to discipline another person's child, be sure to let the parents know about it upon their return.  The last thing that you want to happen is for the child to tell their version of the events, and to paint an ugly picture that is nothing like what actually occurred, leaving you to clean up the mess.


Books Beyond Trains and Trucks for Boys
By Amber Kleefeld, edHelperBaby

           If you have a two year old boy, you may have found yourself knee deep in books about things that go.  If it vrooms, chugga chuggas, or booms, it is probably on your reading list.  These books are important for your son's kinesthetic exploration, and they allow him to translate his backyard scooping and digging into precious words.  However, if you are looking for an opportunity to stretch your son's imagination outside the sandbox, here are some books you might try out:
  1. Oliver Jeffers has written and illustrated a memorable story of the budding friendship between a boy and a penguin in Lost and Found.  They have a grand adventure rowing to the South Pole and they share a hug that rivals all sweet moments in picture book history.
  2. Leonardo the Terrible Monster, by Mo Willems, is another story of an unlikely friendship between a misfit boy and an equally misfit monster.  You and your son can count monster teeth and practice scaring the tuna salad out of each other!
  3. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak, is a "through the looking glass" story of what happens while we sleep.
  4. My Friend Rabbit, by Eric Rohmann, gets a little wacky.  This wordless story about mouse's friend, rabbit, and his "harebrained" ideas will have your little guy laughing and even coming up with his own narration.
  5. Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley allows your son to create a monster and then dismantle each seemingly scary part one at a time until it disappears.  As he yells at each part to "Go Away!" your son can turn the pages himself to exert that control that two year old children crave.

Help in the Kitchen
By Julie Stiglets, edHelperBaby

           My two daughters, ages two and four, love to help me cook.  For instance, when we make brownies, I will let one help pour the ingredients, while the other one stirs.  It is something fun we like to do together.  They each have a little apron they wear while we cook.  Although there are many things they can not help me do, I just tell them they can help me later when it is time to do something else, like set the table or empty the dishwasher.

       Yes, my girls like to help me empty our dishwasher.  I am sure this will not last for long, but for now it is fun for them. Before they can help me, I have to put away anything that can hurt them, like knives or glass.  Then I sort of direct them.  My four year old daughter really has the hang of it.  She knows where I keep my pots and pans!  My two year old daughter requires more help.  I have a bottom drawer that I keep their plastic bowls and plates.  They know they can get those things out of the dishwasher and put them in that drawer.  I also let them put the forks and spoons away.  They also love to dry the dishes that I wash in the sink.       

       They usually see me doing something and then they want to do it too and that is one reason we have a play kitchen in our kitchen.  They have play food, pots, utensils, etc.  There are some things they can not help me do and I do not want them too close to me.  For instance, when I am frying food I tell them they are not allowed past a certain point in the kitchen.  I encourage them to cook their own food in their kitchen.  This usually will occupy them for awhile.  My two year old daughter has really started enjoying their kitchen and pretend play!

       I know it can be hard trying to prepare food or clean your kitchen, while taking care of a child.  If your little one is unable to help you do something, like cooking or cleaning and is a little troublesome while you are in the kitchen, maybe have a play drawer for him or her.  Fill the drawer with play food and other play kitchen items.  This may occupy him or her long enough for you to complete the task at hand!       

Holiday Crafts
By Stacy Dennis, edHelperBaby

           Now that Christmas is coming, I wanted to share some fun, holiday crafts to do with your children.  The holidays are such a great excuse to spend time together as a family.  Your children will enjoy the time spent with you and have something to show for it.  You can use these crafts as gifts for grandparents or siblings or just for fun.  Remember though, that it is okay to get messy every now and then.  Your main goals here are to laugh, create, and have fun together!
  • Cotton Ball Snowman:

       You will need:  cotton balls, paper plates, glue, construction paper, and a stapler.

       For each snowman you will use three paper plates.  Depending on the age of your child, you may want to have the plates pre-cut.  For the bottom of the snowman, you will use the full size plate. The inexpensive thin plates work best.  For the middle of the snowman, you will cut around the edges of the plate to make it smaller.  The head will be cut into the smallest circle.  Staple the three plates together.  Cover the plates with dots of glue and start applying cotton all over the snowman.  You can now use construction paper to make a hat, gloves, buttons, and face for the snowman.  You can get more creative and use real buttons for his eyes and nose if you would like.
  • Christmas Noisemaker:

       You will need:  Empty coffee can with lid, strong glue or tape, popped popcorn, dry beans, construction paper, and markers.  Place the popped popcorn and dry beans into your clean coffee container.  Put the lid on and secure it using either a strong glue or tape.  Now it is time to decorate.  Let your child cover the container with construction paper and decorate using markers, glitter, stickers, or anything they can come up with.  Now they can have fun shaking the container as they sing their Christmas carols.
  • Magnetic Christmas Tree:

       Start saving baby food lids or frozen juice can lids.  You will need at least ten.  You will also need, magnet strips, glue, felt or construction paper in various colors and scissors.  Cut small circles to fit inside the lids you are using.  Help your child glue the felt or construction paper inside each lid.  On the back of each lid you will glue a small magnetic strip.  Once they are dry, you can arrange them on the refrigerator in the shape of a Christmas tree.  Your child can play around with them arranging them into different shapes and patterns.  You can also use these lids later as a teaching tool.  Have your child sort them into colors or write numbers on them and have them put them in order.  They will be having so much fun that they will not even realize they are learning.       

       *Some craft ideas came from The Toddler's Busy Book by Trish Kuffner       


Creature of Habit
By Amber Kleefeld, About my child Aidan

           At twenty-seven months, our son climbed out of his crib, and we scrambled to find him a toddler bed to prevent any major nighttime falls.  I was aware from my painstakingly baby book reading that this change may bring on an onslaught of night time waking, especially since our little guy does not adjust easily to change.  However, he slept through the night each time and giving us only the slight headache of now waking at 5:00am instead of 6:30am.  Every once in a while, we would find him asleep on the floor instead of his bed, but he was content going to sleep in his new bed. We felt like the luckiest parents in the world.  Two weeks ago, however, we moved to a new house.  Again, I knew there was a chance for night time upheaval.  This is our son's fourth home and each time there was a blessedly short adjustment period, but this was the first move with a bed.  Our son did not take it easily.  He now was getting out of bed anywhere from two to ten times a night, sometimes walking into our room and scaring the heck out of me, and sometimes wandering around the living room and kitchen, which scared me even more.  We put chain locks on the outside doors and childproofed even more diligently than before, but the sleep deprivation was beginning to show on all of us.

       This week, my husband came up with a simple but earth shattering idea.  Upon reflection, we realized that our son had always had his crib or bed against the wall, and that his right side always faced away from the wall.  Our son had been sleeping backwards!  We doubted a solution as simple as flipping his bed around would work, but it did.  We are sleeping again, and on to tackling nap time!       

Little Hands in the Kitchen
By Julie Stiglets, About my child Emma and Riley

           My girls and I have fun in the kitchen!  They put their aprons on and have a blast.  They help pour, stir, clean, etc.  I do not know how long this voluntary help in the kitchen will last but it is good for now!  Even if one just pours the frozen corn into the pot for me, they get to tell daddy they helped cook the corn.  When they can not help me, I encourage them to play with their own "play kitchen" we have in our kitchen and they usually enjoy this play time.  There will be many times they can not help for different reasons.  Let us face it that sometimes it is easier and faster for us to just do it ourselves.  But try to remember, they are only little for so long and time will fly by.  Let them help when they can, have some fun and make some memories that will last a lifetime.  Who knows, maybe it will stick and you will have fewer battles about helping out in the kitchen when it comes to the teenage years!       

Terrible Twos
By Stacy Dennis, About my child Jackson

           I am starting to notice that as my son gets closer to two and a half years old, his behavior is changing.  He is starting to test me to see what he can get away with.  He is also starting to make it known when he is not happy about something.  Not only will he cry loudly, he will throw himself on the ground and put his arms straight up to make it difficult for me to pick him up.  As we stood in the rain the other day having a tantrum just like this, I realized that maybe this was why they called it the "terrible twos".  At that moment, I knew what it felt like to be totally frustrated with your child and not know what to do.  I wanted to cry, but I held it together and decided instead not to let him see that the whole thing bothered me.  I got down to his level and talked calmly to him, even though I felt like yelling at him.  Surprisingly, it worked.  He calmed down and told me why he was upset and that he wanted to play in the water.  I rationally explained to him that we could go home and play in the water.  He said, "OK" and that was the end of it.  We got in the car (soaked at this point) and went home.  I was shocked that he reacted so well to my kind demeanor.  I am going to try to make it a point to get down on his level and talk with him from now on before I let either of us get too frustrated.


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