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Toddler - Week #81

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Week 81: Some Fears Have Begun!

By Jodi L. Kelley, edHelperBaby

           Evan visited Santa Claus this week and it freaked him out! Of course, everyone has that one picture with baby screeching at the idea of sitting with Santa. It makes for a cute picture, but it also got me thinking about fears. Evan is at the age when he seems to be more aware of things being scary. He is apprehensive around strangers more these days. He used to be that friendly baby who cooed at anyone saying hello. Now he shies away and hides behind me. He has a small fear of bugs lately, too-nothing compared to how fearful Alice was at that age! I remember having to pull the car over one day when she was about this age. She had been screaming, repeatedly saying "bug," and I thought she was being stung. When I pulled over and rushed out, I found there was the tiniest fruit fly buzzing around her! Imagine the smallest thing evoking such great fear!


Creating Good Readers:
           This may not be an issue for awhile, but you may encounter a time when your child is fearful about reading aloud. It won't occur until he is older, but it may happen one day. You will be helpful in overcoming this fear if you keep up your normal reading routine you've established now at this early age. You don't want to stop reading with your child in all the ways and places you've created as a part of his baby and toddler routine-even when your child begins to read on his own. Keep reading at bedtime, in the bathroom, or wherever you have made it a point to incorporate a book. Continue to use the voices and tone you've learned to use. If you maintain this routine even as your child gets older and can read on his own, he will grow more confident in his own reading ability. Perhaps, he will avoid that dreaded fair of reading aloud in class when he gets older.


Book Of The Week:
            Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberly.       

       This is a great book for little ones with fears! The monster is revealed piece by piece as we tell him we are not afraid of him. The book has little cut out sections that show one feature of the monster at a time. For instance, first we learn that he has two yellow eyes, and this is all we see. A nose is added as you turn the page. Each page is bold and colorful with geometric shapes. By the time you finish reading the book, the monster is more of a cute little guy, than anyone to fear! Then you get to turn the pages some more and make the monster disappear. The reader is totally in control of any fears.


           Our week has been full of activities. One idea I had while reading the book was to create a flannel board for our new playroom. I had already decided to paint a chalkboard onto the wall. Alice and Evan were sharing an easel-and not always sharing so nicely! A painted board will give the both of them lots of room. But as I read this book with all its bright colors and shapes, I had the idea of making a flannel board on the other wall. Making a flannel board is very easy and provides lots of opportunities for fun. All you really need to do is take a big piece of cardboard (you can use plywood if you are really serious, but cardboard works just as well) and wrap it with flannel. You can buy flannel anywhere fabric is sold. Wrap it tight, as if you were wrapping a present. Tape the edges down on the back with duct tape. Attach it to the wall. Then cut simple shapes from bold, colorful scrap pieces of felt. Your child can stick the shapes onto the flannel creating his own monster.       

       Evan and Alice also made their own green monsters. We used paper cups and decorated them just like the monster in the book with yellow, round eyes, an oval, bluish-greenish nose, and blue ears. Then we planted grass seed in the cup. I am hoping the green, grass hair will begin to sprout soon!


Rhyme Time:
           A monster rhyme:       


       I'm being swallowed by a big, green monster.

       I'm being swallowed by a big, green monster.

       I'm being swallowed by a big, green monster.

       And I don't like it very much.

       Oh no (oh no) he swallowed your toe (he swallowed your toe)

       Oh me (oh me) he swallowed your knee (he swallowed your knee)

       Oh fiddle (oh fiddle) he's up to your middle (he's up to your middle)

       Oh heck (oh heck) he swallowed your neck (he swallowed your neck)

       Oh - (GULP!)       


       I motioned each action like I was eating Evan's toes, and then his knees, then his belly button, kissing his neck, and so forth.


Evan's Opinion:
           This was a great week. I love my Santa photo with Evan crying. He may not have loved his visit, but I will cherish the photo forever! My mom has one of me doing the same thing! But Evan does like playing with flannel boards. I haven't built mine yet because our playroom is still in its beginning stages. We have used the flannel board at the children's museum, and it is great fun. The toddlers all seem to enjoy it at preschool, too. As far as planting, anytime he can play in the dirt, Evan is happy! And he loved my monster song, too, because he loves to be tickled!


You're Probably Wondering.....
           "How should a parent handle toddler fears?"       

       Having fears is quite normal for toddlers. The world is so new and can be overwhelming at times. Toddlers may fear dogs, bugs, the dark, new people, loud sounds, or a variety of other things.       

       Sometimes, your child's fears may seem silly to you. I know I chuckled a little as Evan screamed on Santa's lap. Not very nice of me! Considering he is recently afraid of strangers, to thrust him in the lap of a stranger who is also overwhelmingly dressed just magnified his fears. Obviously, this isn't what we want to do routinely with our children! So what should we do?       

       Well, no matter how silly his fears seem, parents should never trivialize the child's anxiety. When Alice was afraid of the tiny bugs, it was hard to take her seriously. But she was deathly afraid. The fright in her screams was very real, even if the fear seemed irrational to me. So do as I say, not as I do-and don't laugh at him if he cries in fear!       

       I also did the wrong thing with Alice's bug fear. I tried to rationalize with her (yup, tried to convince a toddler with logic; very logical of me) and tell her she was bigger than the bug-nothing to be afraid of! Wrong thing to do! It's better to acknowledge the fear and help the child deal with it. I should have said I understood the bug was scary to her and said the two of us could shoo him out of the car together.       

       Depending on the particular fear, there are lots of creative things you can do. My oldest son believed a giant, man-eating spider lived in his closet. We used fake bug spray to make the spider sleep every night (he didn't want to kill it) so he could sleep every night, too. You can role-play if the fear is of certain situations. You can experiment if the fear lends itself to this. If your child is afraid of going down the drain with the bath water, you can experiment with a rubber ducky first. Perhaps your child has a comfort object, like a favorite blankie or teddy bear, which will help him through upsetting fears.       

       Lastly, don't let your own fears shine through. If you are afraid of bugs and you screech whenever one approaches, you are sure to create the same fear in your child. Fears are normal for all of us, but we want to project the proper way to deal with our fears so our children will learn to comfort themselves as well. Fears only become abnormal when they interfere with our daily lives and make our normal routines difficult. If this seems to be happening with your child, as always you should seek medical attention. And now I am afraid that's it for me this week!


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