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|Toddler - Week #64|
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Sharing is a hard concept for a toddler. My 64-week-old little guy is fairly good at sharing. He has three siblings and so he must share, especially with his four-year-old sister. Therefore, when I babysat this week, I was not surprised to see that Evan was great at sharing his toys and playing with a friend. At this age, some babies can be in a stage called parallel play. Babies learn to play on a continuum. As infants, they just watch everything-sort of observe and take it all in so they will know what to do later. At about a year old, they move onto solitary play. This simply means they play alone. Parallel play is exactly what it sounds like-playing next to each other. Two toddlers will play side by side with similar toys and look at one another every once in awhile but not really interact with one another. Toddlers and preschoolers use this type of play as a way of learning about their friend or a group of friends. It's sort of like being part of the group in a safe way but holding out on entering the group. After some observation, the child may enter into the last stage of play, which is cooperative play. If the group seems friendly, he will join in and play with them. Evan was doing this when our friend was over for the day. He would sit and play with a toy next to our friend and watch what he was doing. However, Evan moves quickly into cooperative play. I think this may be possibly because of all of his siblings. Cooperative play is a little advanced for his age, but I think about how he plays with his sister. She is four and enjoys bossing him around. Since he seems to idolize her, he does whatever she tells him to do. So he ends up having tea parties, chasing her around the table, and such. I wasn't surprised to see Evan handing his friend a car and trying to get him to drive it around the mountains he had made. He seems to enjoy interactive play a great deal and loved having a friend over for the day. Sharing his toys was not hard. But sharing his mommy did get a little tough at times!|
|Creating Good Readers:|
Speaking of sharing and parallel play-both are great for cultivating your child into a great reader! Of course, you already know sharing books with your child is the most important thing you can do to create a good reader. But you can take sharing even further. All of the reading concepts your child is learning-the ideas that books have words, words tell stories, the left to right concept, etc.-can be taught in any book, even ones you are reading. I remember when my oldest son was born and I was finishing up college, I had a lot of reading to do and didn't have as much time to read to him from storybooks. But to entertain him while getting my school work completed, I would read to him from my textbooks! Not the most entertaining materials! But I would use my fun voices and expression and make them sound like they were the best stories in town! He still loved it. He got the same comforts of being read to-the snuggle time with Mommy, the sound of my voice, and the attention. He also has an amazing vocabulary, and I often wonder how much of that is due to hearing college level reading from birth! I was thinking about this the other day when Evan crawled into my lap as I was reading a chapter book with my twelve-year-old son. He sat and listened for longer than he does for most of his picture books. He was probably jealous of his brother getting Mommy's attention and just wanted to show him who Mommy belongs to, but it reminded me that you can share any book and still reinforce those important reading concepts. It also reminded me that parallel reading is important. What I mean is that you should read in front of your child on your own. Read magazines, the newspaper, or whatever while he is watching. It's a nice idea for the whole family to sit in the living room with their own reading material. I often sit and read a magazine while Alice reads one of her picture books and Evan thumbs through his own book. It fits in perfectly with all that is going on with him right now-wanting to copy everyone and his parallel play learning, too.|
|Book of the Week:|
You're All My Favorites |
By: Sam Mc Bratney
This wonderful book is written by the same author who wrote, Guess How Much I Love You so you know immediately it will be very touching. It is about one of the most difficult concepts to understand for children of all ages-sharing a parent's love. On each page, the Mommy Bear and Daddy Bear repeatedly tell each of the three bears that they are all favorites. But each bear doubts this can be true. One wonders how he can be a favorite if he has no spots. They each think of their differences and question their parents' love. In the end though, everyone knows they are all loved a great deal. This book is so sweet. Your baby may not be able to grasp this concept at such an early age, but if there are older siblings, it will mean something to them. However, your baby will love the beautiful, gentle illustrations and will also love snuggling to read with you, of course. And trust me; you will be holding baby tight as you read this tear-jerker!
If you have more than one child, it is important to try some activities like these next mentioned. If you do not have other children, you can try to hold some play dates or go to a park to try and find other children his age. |
There are several activities Alice and Evan do together. One simple but very important activity is playing with a ball. Sitting down together and rolling the ball back and forth may seem extremely simple, but it is an important learning concept. It teaches turn-taking because of the back and forth motion.
Another idea I will use often is to lay out only one piece of paper for coloring. Evan loves to scribble with a crayon and Alice also loves to draw. When they have only one large piece of paper, they have to negotiate for room, complement one another's drawings, and work it out! Alice will often have a harder time with this sharing than Evan, but I am there to help her navigate the situation and give her some of the dialogue she needs. This also happens around our chalkboard. We don't have two of them and although the one we have technically belongs to Alice (Grandpa gave it to her for Christmas), she is pretty good at sharing it with Evan.
Finally, another forced sharing situation often occurs at dinnertime when the two of them play marching band with my pots and pans. I set up one pan and spoon instrument and one set of lids. Both are exciting instruments to my children and they take turns with each. They do a fairly good job negotiating when to switch instruments with one another. You could do this sort of thing with any two toys that are similar. You will need to monitor the play so no tantrums erupt. But you might be surprised at how they simply swap with one another sometimes.
Patty-Cake, Patty-Cake is perfect for this week and will reinforce sharing and turn-taking. You can't do it alone, so children will learn the importance of interacting with a friend: |
Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Pat it and roll it and mark it with "B"
And put it in the oven for Baby and me
Since this rhyme requires hand clapping between two people, your child will need you or a friend to play, too!
Evan liked reading Justin's book more than reading the picture book intended for him! He seems to have been all about not sharing Mommy this week. He has been open to sharing all toys with his sister and friends, but not his mommy. |
Ball play is not as easy as it initially sounds. Rolling a ball back and forth- how hard could that be? Very hard, actually! Whenever the ball comes to Evan, it takes a great deal of prodding to get him to return it. He'd rather pick it up and run off on his own. He likes that his sister is playing with him and will return to her and hand her the ball after he has run off-but this is not quite what we had in mind. It annoys Alice that he is not "doing it right" and she will then quit. To make this simple game go smoother, it helps if I sit open legged behind Evan and assist him in rolling the ball back. I will admit, though, this doesn't last long because it is not as fun as running around and chasing each other for the ball.
However, coloring together or sharing space at the chalkboard does last awhile. As I mentioned, it takes some coaching on my part with Alice to navigate these choppy sharing waters. But once she gets the hang of it, things go pretty well. Although I could swear every once in awhile I catch a glimpse of my little guy scribbling over her name with a little devilish grin on his face!
|You're Probably Wondering.....|
Question: "What can I do to help my toddler learn to share better?" |
Toddlers are not really meant to be great sharers at this early age. They believe everything belongs to them. In some ways, it is a wonderful thought for them to have. They believe the world is theirs, as it should be! But when they are snatching things out of other's hands or throwing themselves upon the floor to tantrum when they don't get the item they desire-it doesn't seem so wonderful!
What can you do to ease these situations? There are a few things you can do to help your toddler learn to share. But remember, he is young and is not meant to be a great sharer at this time. Always keep in mind that stages are for learning and your child is not supposed to be perfect!
The first thing you can do to help your child become a better sharer is to put him in situations where it is required. You may want to run-avoid all sharing situations at all cost because it can be so embarrassing when your little angel isn't living up to his angelic stature, but you cannot hide. You must visit places where there are children. It doesn't matter if the children are the same age as your baby either. Evan learns good sharing with his sister who is four. You can go to the playground or gym classes and find other children. You can also organize some play groups to come over to your house. Be careful of holding play groups with friends though. You cannot force your child to be friends with another child simply because you moms are friends. If your kids have tension, it could cause tension between the two of you, so think carefully before inviting friends over just to teach your child to share.
Once you have a sharing situation set up, there are some guidelines to follow for helping the sharing occur. First, avoid the temptation to jump in and solve your child's problems. When you see the struggle for a toy begin to happen, don't be the referee. Sit back and watch what happens. Let the children try to work it out. Of course, you must supervise to ensure everyone is going to be safe. But you do not have to come to anyone's rescue right away. If it appears that the situation is not going to resolve itself, step in with dialogue. Give the children words they may not have. Younger children, like our toddlers, cannot talk yet and will use cries, aggression, and even biting to get what they want. Older children still do not have the dialogue even if they can speak the words. They need to be fed the right phrases. You can step in and say something like, "Oh, we both want the same toy, huh? What are we going to do about this? Can we share?" and you can do several things to set the sharing rules. You can ask the child with the toy to have her turn and then pass it along after a certain amount of time. You can find a similar toy and give it to the child who wants the toy. You might find they swap on their own after that. I often find if I have given Alice a toy like this, Evan wants it because he thinks it must be better. After all, Mommy just gave it to her, so it has to be fantastic! If the fighting continues, you can put the toy in time out. Let the children know the toy is very tired from playing so much and maybe even has a headache from the tantrums. Place it up high!
Also, speaking of toys in time out, when preparing for a play date at your own house, if your child has toys that are absolute favorites-put them away! Do not expect your toddler to share a toy that he adores. Toddlers do need to feel complete ownership over some of their things. Evan doesn't seem to have a favorite toy, so I didn't have to put anything away. But if your child has a lovey or special toy or bear, etc., he should not have to give another child a turn with it!
Sharing Mommy was Evan's tough point. Our little friend was here all day, away from his mommy. We all know, at this age, our toddlers are very clingy. They need Mommy. So my friend's little guy needed me just as much as Evan needed me. He wanted me to hold him and give him love. It was slightly comical that every time he needed a hug, I also received lots of hugs and wide-mouthed kisses from Evan! It was slightly harder to work out the sharing of Mom. I wished there were times I could have put myself in time out like the toy!
But role modeling sharing is the last, and possibly the most important, part of teaching sharing. You cannot expect your children to be good at sharing if they are not seeing it from you. Be sure your family shares at the dinner table (Please pass the peas!) and other simple places. It sounds easy but you might overlook it if you aren't careful! Watch for situations that come up in your daily life. You are driving into the parking lot and you hurry to get the best spot. Another car sneaks in there and you curse or pout. Believe it or not-you've just missed a sharing lesson opportunity! On the flip side, if you give up your spot or you get up on the bus to give up your seat-you have taught your child the importance of sharing.
So keep role modeling good sharing, providing your child with sharing opportunities, and understanding his development. And remember to share the most important things in life with him everyday-your time and your love!
|Making Gorp That You and Your Toddler Will Love!|
One thing that every Mom of a growing toddler knows is that young children always seem to be hungry! Even those Moms challenged by fussy eaters are frequently confronted with the dilemma of what to serve their toddlers for a snack. One way of solving the problem of what to serve for a snack (not goldfish AGAIN!), is while simultaneously engaging your older child, if you have one, in his or her own snack preparation, is to make a tasty gorp, or trail mix.|
Prepackaged trail mixes can often be high in sodium, plus for Moms with allergic children the mixes can be minefields of peanut and wheat ingredients. Making your own gorp allows you to choose only the ingredients that you want your child to eat. Some suggestions for inclusion in your mixture include:
The combinations are truly endless. Include any variety of cereals and snack items that you choose, but always bear in mind the abilities and age of your child. Make sure that your child cannot choke on anything that you have included in your gorp and, of course, if your child has allergies, always read the labels on the items that you include.
Make up a large quantity of your gorp at one time and then store it in either a reusable food storage container or in a two-gallon Ziploc bag. Have several sandwich size baggies of the gorp prepared ahead of time so that you are always ready to grab one for an impromptu dash to the park or to the store. Your toddler will thank you and you will probably find yourself nibbling on it as well!
|Are you a discipline dodger?|
You may or may not have had to start thinking about disciplining your child. As toddlers discover their world, they also try to test the limits. Our daughter just recently had her first "take a break." We probably could have started a little earlier than we did. We finally decided it was time so that Amelia would not continue to form any bad habits. |
We have all seen the toddler who is obviously manipulating the parents to get what he or she wants. I have seen it more times than I would like to admit. It is always a reminder to me that these habits start young and the earlier you teach your child about what you expect of him or her, the less you may have to do it as the child gets older.
I always use the saying "What is easy, is not always right and what is right, is not always easy." You have to think about the big picture. Yes, your child may not be happy with you at first, but if you teach them discipline at a younger age, you will most likely not be one of those parents who are being manipulated by a two year old. Giving in to your child will send the wrong message and will cause problems further on down the line.
Books for your child to discover:
Books for you to discover:
When Amelia was five weeks old, we started reading On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam. This book starts from birth and goes all the way through the teenage years. I know there is some controversy out there and some people do not agree with this program. As for my husband and I, we think that hospitals should hand them out to every new parent. The book helps you establish a routine with your child. It helped our daughter sleep well, eat well and play well. Since then, we have had people begging us to tell them what we have done with Amelia and if we had any suggestions and tips. All we do is tell them about the book. "You'd better go get On Becoming Babywise!"
My husband and I believe that all books with programs for infants are similar to diets. If you follow the regimen, it will work. If you cheat, you will not receive the best results. Like all diets, you have to find which works best for you and your family. This may take a little bit of research. I would recommend sticking to ONE program and NOT changing from one book to another with your child which can be confusing for all involved.
Other suggestions for parenting books about discipline:
List Number Start:
The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums, and Tears by Elizabeth Pantley
The Discipline Book: How to Have A Better-Behaved Child from Birth to Age Ten by Martha and William Sears
Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson Ed.D
Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing Clear, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries by Robert J. MacKenzie Ed.D
List Number End:
|Memories Past the First Year|
When our son was born, my husband and I received the most thoughtful gift: a ready-made scrapbook with a page for twelve months. We had fun filling in our son's likes/dislikes and choosing a picture. We love to look through that little book to see all of his changes. |
Yes, that first special year has passed. But since we found such joy in creating that book, we have decided to continue that monthly tradition by using a regular photo album and taking a special picture or two to include. There are specially designed books at scrapbook and card stores.
Everyone has pictures of their little ones. Babies are cute and everything is new. As a middle school teacher, I know that teenagers are not as "cute." Most hate to have their picture taken. But I like to think that if my husband and I continue to highlight each month as special, it will create a bond with our son--even in the more tumultuous teen years.
|Making Our "Snack"|
I began making this gorp mixture, which we originally called "snack", when my oldest daughter was about one year old. She truly seemed to prefer the variety in her "snack" to the straightforwardness of, for example, Cheerios. As she got a little older, I could tell that she had certain preferences, as she would eat certain components of the mixture first, but she never left any part of the gorp uneaten, because I was able always to tailor it exactly to her taste. It was fun to be able to introduce more sophisticated offerings to her through this snack, such as the day she discovered a few M&Ms mixed in or when she was old enough to eat dried fruit other than raisins i.e. dried apricots and prunes. Other Moms were intrigued by my "snack", and while they teased me about the name, they were soon busy making it with their own children!|
Recently Amelia has gotten into a bad habit of pinching my neck with both hands when she gets upset or excited. This is really painful and unfortunately my response in the past has been to laugh because of it being so uncomfortable. Amelia has obviously read this as a sign that she should continue the behavior. |
As recommended by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, I tried squeezing Amelia's hand and firmly say "No" so she would get the idea that I was not fond of the behavior. When this behavior continued to persist, I knew it was time to have Amelia "take a break." "Take a break" is a term from Responsive Classroom from Origins. In this program usually used in elementary schools, students are asked to "take a break" for small inappropriate behaviors. With this procedure, you are not saying that the child is bad but you are just stating that you do not like the behavior that the child is doing.
After the child is asked to "take a break," she goes to a chair and thinks about what she has done and what she is going to do to fix it. The child may return when she is ready. I wanted to use this term because I know that many schools in St. Paul, Minnesota use Responsive Classroom and I wanted the language to be familiar for Amelia.
Since Amelia is too young to sit in a chair and stay there, we have put her in a Pack n' Play for about five minutes or so. Amelia was not thrilled about being put down in her Pack N' Play, but we knew it had to be done to get the point across. Amelia now is very hesitant about pinching my neck. She knows that if she does it again she will have a consequence.
You are probably wondering how you find the right parenting book for your family. The couple that owns our local gym recommended the On Becoming Babywise book to us. They used it with their son and it was very successful for them. In fact, their friends had recommended the book to them. Therefore, possibly one of the best ways to find a book is through word of mouth.
I am always a little cautious to try new food recipes because I have had some not turn out good in the past. If someone suggests a recipe to me or I have been able to try or witness the recipe, I am more likely to make it. I think this is the same for many parenting books.
If you do not know any parents of small children, you are probably going to have to research different books on your own. This could take a lot of time and it is sometimes hard to figure out what will really work. What was nice for us was that I knew I could always go and ask questions about the On Becoming Babywise book because our friends had already been through the program. We might have given up the program ourselves had we not had their reassurance.
Overall there are many ideas about discipline and you have to figure out which ideas are right for you and your family. No matter which program you choose, it is best for all the caregivers of your child to be on the same page and to be consistent. And most of all, it is important to not be a discipline dodger.
List Number Start:
Responsive Classroom by Origins:
See more information online at http://originsonline.org
On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam
List Number End:
Nate has become a real outdoorsman these days. He loves to look at the trees, flowers, birds, and sky. He smiles as he enjoys a gentle breeze. He reaches for the back door and does his best to say, "outside." He even has learned to keep on his helmet which has greatly increased the times we venture out on the bike! |
For Christmas, he will receive toddler garden gloves and a mini plastic rake that were on sale at the end of summer. I want to encourage his love of the outdoors. Park walks, visits to the local arboretum, and even just our few plants in the backyard seem to stimulate an interest in nature. It is amazing to see that Nate's interests are different from other children his age. It is truly a joy to see each child developing in just his or her own way!
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