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Toddler - Week #70

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The 70th Week: He Listens When I Speak!

By Jodi L. Kelley, edHelperBaby

           I am amazed more and more as Evan's ability to understand expands. Although he still has only a few words, he is really able to communicate well. He communicates with me through his simple words and his gestures, such as pointing. But what really amazes me most is that although he does not have the ability to speak full phrases, he completely has the ability to understand them. A typical morning begins when he calls for Daddy from his crib. They established this routine together after a few mornings of Evan crying. My husband told Evan he didn't need to cry.  He could simply call for Daddy and he'd come and get him. To my astonishment, he understood and has done this since. Once he is up and out of the crib, you can tell him to go get in his chair for breakfast. He will run over and climb up. When he is through eating breakfast, I will unlatch him and tell him to go to the bathtub. He'll run right into the bathroom, too, and start attempting to take off his pajamas. I am shocked each time I give him complex commands and he does exactly what I asked! Of course, he doesn't always want to do what I ask, but it is still remarkable that he understands so much language already.


Creating Good Readers:
           Now that Evan is a little more responsive to directions, I was able to take a trip to the library. The library is an awe inspiring place for young children. They are usually stunned by the number of books that surround them in the library. It is a fun place to sit on a bean bag chair and read a story together. Then to get to pick out some books to borrow is very fun for children.


Book Of The Week:
           Clap Your Hands

       By: David Ellwand       

       This is a wonderful book for following directions. It is a picture book of photographed teddy bears. The teddy bears are acting out each verse of the classic song "If You're Happy and You Know It.". They clap their hands and stomp their feet because, after all, they are very happy teddy bears. You'll have a hard time reading this book without breaking into song. But sing it out loud and enjoy doing each command with your child because it is a lot of fun to read it this way!


           Of course, with this week's theme of following directions, there are many classic games you can play. Besides reading the book and following those happy commands, you can play a toddler version of "Simon Says" and change it to "Mommy Says." You can say, "Mommy says touch your toes" and see if he touches his toes when told. Of course, the difference is nobody gets out in Mommy's game! This game is good right now, too, for naming body parts. Your sixteen-month-old should be able to identify quite a few body parts by now.       

       I like to use this new ability of following directions to get some chore help also. For instance, when we are putting away groceries, I will give Evan an item and tell him to put it in the cupboard. Not everything gets in there neatly, but who cares? He is so proud of helping, and I can worry about being neat and organized twenty years from now!       

       For an art activity this week, I used a reproducible offered on edhelper that has a picture of a teddy bear and another page of all of his clothes. I let Evan color them by scribbling all over the two pages before I cut them out. I have a laminating machine at home, so I laminated the pieces so I can use them more than once. This is not completely necessary, but if you can, I recommend it. I put a dot of Velcro on the back of each clothing piece and the opposite pieces went on the teddy bear in various spots like his head, feet, and stomach. Then you can give your child directions for dressing the bear. You can tell him to put the bear's coat on or to put Teddy's boots on his feet. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much your child understands the names of clothing and body parts and can complete these tasks. Sure, he will miss here and there, but the understanding is really developing more and more each day. You can also achieve this same activity with a Mr. Potato Head toy. Pushing the pieces in may turn out to be slightly more challenging than sticking the Velcro pieces onto the teddy bear, but practicing this may also help develop those fine motor skills as well.


Rhyme Time:
            The Hokey Pokey is a must for this week! You know how it goes:       


       You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around,

       That's what it's all about...

       You put your hands in,

       You put your hands out,

       You put your hands in and you shake them all about.

       You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around,

       That's what it's all about!


       I found it was best if I changed the body parts to be more simple ones than trying to get Evan to put his right foot in-he obviously wasn't going to know his right from his left! So I used parts like hands, feet, and bum!


Evan's Opinion:
           Evan thought my daughter and I were hilarious when we were doing the "Hokey Pokey." He did join us in the circle and occasionally put his foot in with ours, but most of the time he was just laughing at us. "Mommy Says" was way more his speed. He liked copying his sister, and he would even try to trick me by pretending to touch the wrong body part and then giggling. For instance, when I said touch your nose, he covered his eyes. He thought he was so funny for doing this.       

       Evan likes playing with Mr. Potato Head mostly because Mr. Potato Head belongs to Alice and all of his sister's things are fun to touch. He did like dressing the teddy bear, too, though and thought the sound of the Velcro going on and off was pretty interesting. He didn't always get the pieces on precisely, but he was pretty close. It was more a lack of finely developed fine motor skills than a lack of understanding of which piece goes where.


You're Probably Wondering.....
           "Is it a good idea to give him a time-out if he doesn't follow directions?"       

       I wondered if it was too early to start time-outs as a form of discipline. Now that Evan understands my commands and can complete certain tasks, does that mean he can understand if I say not to do something? I am certain it does mean this, so I have begun to think about whether or not the time has come for time-out discipline.       

       What I have learned is that I am perhaps a little early. After reading about toddler behavior, I see most experts concur that time-outs are good to begin around eighteen months of age. This is okay; it gives us time to talk about the idea with our spouses and decide if and how we are going to do this.       

       A typical time-out occurs after a misdeed. For instance, if Mommy says we do not hit the dog, and Evan hits the dog again, he will need a time-out. The pattern usually is as follows: undesired behavior; warning; undesired behavior repeats; time-out. Be specific when you give the time-out telling the child what exact behavior has caused the consequence.       

       If you have decided to use this behavioral modification practice, you must commit. The worst thing you could do would be to give the warning that a time-out will occur and then not follow through. You would have been better off never giving the warning at all in this instance! It may be hard to commit because it may be hard to hear your child cry or get upset after you remove him from the area. But truly, caring and loving a child means teaching him right from wrong and you will really be helping him in the end if you discipline him rather than allow him to continue to misbehave.       

       A child's time- out should be one minute for each year of age. So our toddlers may be sitting out of play for only one minute. It's enough to get the message through. Find a quiet place that will serve as the time-out area. A bench or even a step can do the job. Some people use the child's bedroom as the time-out area. But for me, I don't want Evan to associate his sleeping area with consequences, so I am planning to avoid this as his time-out area. Also, some people find that the child plays in his room after having a time-out. I did read that it's okay if the child plays during a time-out in his room and not to think of this as a punishment that should make the child unhappy. Children do not have to be upset and crying in order for the time-out to be meaningful.       

       In fact, if the child is tantruming or carrying on, the time-out may take a little longer.   You don't want to end the time-out during a tantrum. Wait until the child is calmer so you can reinforce the desired behavior before he begins to play again. For instance, I would say to Evan in the above situation: "Okay, your time-out is over. Let's be nice to the dog now. No hitting." Then I'll let him go play.       

       There is a lot to think about over the next month or so. For now, I will keep giving commands and developing that ability to follow directions. Maybe Evan will get so good at it that I'll not need time-outs ever because he will follow my every command! Hey, a mom can dream, can't she?


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