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|Toddler - Week #90|
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This month your toddler is starting to poke his head out of his shell and test the waters around other children. He is also starting to enjoy playing alone more and more, and may start showing you signs of becoming a bit less self-centered as well. Don't worry; you will remain the most important playmate in his life for a little while longer, as he needs you around to show him the ropes, and to feel more confident in exploring the world. Watch and listen very closely, as your toddler now gets very excited as he reports back to you about what he had done and what he has seen on his little adventures around the playground.|
Toddlers this age love to watch other children playing, and soon your little one will want nothing more than to join in, especially when older kids are involved. As for now, you can expect your toddler to poke, prod, and push his buddies to let them know he's interested, and he definitely needs to polish up on his social skills and earn the proper way to introduce himself. You can begin to teach him the correct way to make his presence known, and how to touch appropriately in order to get his little friend's attention.
Play-dates should be part of your routine now, and because your toddler's memory is improving he is able to anticipate and look forward to them as well. This month, play continues to be the best way for your toddler to learn about himself and how to make sense of the world around him. You will begin to notice that your little one plays more appropriately with children he is familiar with, and may become territorial when unsuspecting visitors "invade" his space.
Some little ones will jump right into every social opportunity that presents itself, while others sit back and take their time before making their presence known. If you notice that your 21-month-old exhibits hesitancy regarding interacting with other toddlers, don't be alarmed. Research shows that about 20% of your toddler's time right now (when he isn't sleeping) is spent observing and just checking things out before actually stepping in, so it is to be expected that more time is spent watching from the side-lines than actively participating. As your toddler inches closer and closer towards his second birthday, this focus will rapidly begin to change, but for the time being, his observations are essential in helping to learn about societal norms and rules, and where he fits in.
Don't push your toddler to socialize if he appears uncomfortable. Doing so may actually increase his reluctance, so your best bet is to allow him time to size up the situation before diving in. Also, be sure to give him the personal space that he needs, and respect the boundaries that he has set up to observe from afar. Your toddler's own personality is beginning to emerge, so it is essential that he feels accepted whether he is becoming more outgoing or remaining quite shy. As long as he knows that you are proud of the little person he is becoming, it doesn't matter which direction he is beginning to take.
|Sharing? Not Yet.|
Your toddler is finally starting to understand the concept of "mine" and "yours." However, despite reaching this milestone she continues to make very little progress in the sharing department, and may appear rather defiant at times regarding ownership. A word to the wise: don't try and force her to share right now, especially her favorite things. In fact, you may even want to hide the extra-special toys away during play-dates in order to prevent a battle from erupting in your home.|
Basically, try to think like a 21-month-old when it comes to sharing. Right now it's not that your toddler actually wants to play with her toys, it's just that she doesn't want anyone else to play with them when she isn't...make sense? Well, for your toddler it does. Sharing is a hard lesson to learn, and some individuals struggle with it well into adulthood. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to try and see things from another's perspective, but the more practice she gets, the better she will eventually become at it.
Teach your toddler how to share by modeling this behavior for her and by sharing your things with her too (within reason). Acknowledge that it can be difficult to share, especially when it comes to favorite toys, but emphasize how happy it makes her feel when someone else shares with her. Try to get your little one to reciprocate ("try" is the key work here), but don't press the issue too hard. Also, help her to negotiate with her peers by trading, bartering and offering one toy for another. Lastly, think of activities that work around the entire "playgroup," whether it be with one other child or three. By planning ahead you can get everyone involved, everyone gets to do the same thing, no one feels left out, and a wrestling match may ultimately be avoided.
According to child development experts, "claiming ownership of an object is a major intellectual breakthrough." So, remember this when your toddler's use of the word "Mine!" haunts you in your sleep. At this young age, she doesn't understand how to take turns, and waiting a few minutes for her chance to play feels like an eternity, as she has no concept of time yet. To make matters even more complex, she is learning by copying other children and wants what others have when they have it, not after they're done with it. In the meantime, it is your official job to play referee, so keep stepping in to help over and over again until she finally understands what sharing is all about...and she will...eventually.
|To Work Or Not To Work|
Deciding whether to remain at home with your child, or return to the work-force can be a very difficult and very personal decision. However, if you have a positive attitude about the route that you have chosen to follow, your child will too. Everyone has their own opinions regarding which avenue is best, but what works for one family may not work for another, and what works this year may not work the next.|
Ask yourself a few questions before you make this decision. First, how do you feel about being a stay-at-home parent? If you are going to stay home, realize that it is the toughest and most exhausting job you'll ever face, however it may also be the most rewarding. Second, how do you feel about depending upon your partner regarding finances? Be sure to discuss how money issues will be dealt with before they have to be dealt with. Third, think about the importance of your career, and how much satisfaction you derive from it. Despite much controversy surrounding this issue, you can love your child more than anything else in the world, yet not have the patience or stamina to be with him all day, every day. This does not make you a bad parent. In fact, returning to work outside of the home may make you a better parent in the long run.
It is completely normal and expected that priorities shift after having a child. Some parents surprisingly discover that they miss the "working world," while some unexpectedly discover that they don't. Acknowledge your feelings whatever they may be, discuss them with your family, and then make a well informed decision about the direction your life will take. No matter what, listen to your heart and the rest (with a little time, patience and creativity) will follow.
Freeze Dance |
Toddlers love to dance (or at least try to), no matter what their age. For this activity, gather together your child's favorite CD's and clear the dance floor for some wiggling and shaking. You will have to join in with your toddler initially in order for her to visually learn how to play this game, but she is guaranteed to catch on quickly when she sees you out there shaking your booty.
Next, turn on the music and tell your little one to dance until the music stops. It may help her to grasp the concept if you say the word "dance" over and over again while the music is on, and then say, "freeze" when the music is off. At this age she will most likely copy what you say, and this mimicking will actually help her to focus on the task by allowing her to connect actions with words.
This is a great activity for your toddler because it teaches how to follow directions in a fun way. It is also a wonderful game for play-dates of all ages (or twins, triplets, etc.) because there are no toys to fight over and everybody wins.
|Andrew and Devin's Opinion|
After having a difficult week with my identical twin boys who have begun to argue and wrestle over every toy, snack, or piece of garbage lying before them, I loved having an activity where nothing was involved besides some good ole music (relatively speaking) and the two of them. So, needing a break from the arguing on this particular morning, I pulled out my boys' favorite Wiggles CD (against my better judgment) and pushed the furniture back against the walls.|
With the first note of "Big Red Car," Andrew and Devin were hooked. Battles had since dawn were tossed to the wayside, and angry shrieks vanished from the air. It was a miracle. I then began to introduce the concept of our activity by singing the word "dance" over and over again while the three of us laughed and giggled. As expected, my boys soon followed suit and within a few seconds everyone was chanting and dancing together.
I then danced my way over to the stereo and threw Andrew and Devin for a loop by shutting off the music. Standing completely still, I changed my mantra from "dance" to "freeze," and was met by icy stares. Initially, they looked completely perplexed by my actions and I could begin to see the steam building after having halted their fun. In order to avert disaster, a few seconds later the music was back on and all was well in the world.
Deciding to tempt fate, I continued to turn the music off and on every few minutes until Andrew and Devin finally caught onto our game. Soon realizing that turning off the music was part of the fun, their evil stares turned into happy faces and they could not get enough. We had a wonderful, battle-free morning from that point on...and the best part was that they were so exhausted that they both took a lovely battle-free nap as well.
|Have you begun to wonder...|
How do I choose the best child care for my toddler? |
If you should choose to go the child-care route, there are a few questions to ask yourself before you finalize this very important decision. Before selecting a caregiver, be sure that they will be able to provide your little one with the amount of love, care and attention that you deem necessary and that your little one will be able to develop stable relationships with both the caregivers and other children at the site.
Be sure to select a facility or provider that shares the same attitudes and values as you do as a parent. Also, ensure that they have a background in child development and are able to provide age appropriate toys, games, and stimulation for your little one's development stage.
Require that they have enough staff workers for the amount of children in their care on a daily basis, and confirm that they also have an open-door policy allowing you to stop by at any time to check on your little one. Most importantly, take time to get to know the individuals who will be caring for your child on a personal level, because the caregivers themselves are the most essential part of the "child care" equation.
Be confident that you are able to discuss concerns openly and honestly with your caregiver, and that your requests are both respected and dealt with promptly. Make sure the provider is "responsive" and will be able to meet all of your child's needs in your absence throughout the day. Keep in mind that your little toddler is not able to report back or tell you how things are going while you're gone, so you must trust that she is receiving only the best care that can be provided.
Great day care can enhance both the intellectual and social development of your child if selected carefully. In the end, you are entrusting your chosen caregiver with your most prized possession, so be sure that they are able to provide your child with all of the love and respect that she deserves when you are not there to give it to her yourself.
Lastly, your toddler will benefit most from your decision if she knows that you are happy with your choice. If you are unsure or apprehensive, she will be too. However, if you are trusting and confident it can be a wonderful new beginning for both you and your toddler to experience together.
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|Note: All information on edHelperBaby is of a general nature for educational purposes only.|
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