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|Toddler - Week #96|
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|Watch What I Can Do!|
The best way for your toddler to learn new skills this month is through observation, imitation, and receiving as much positive reinforcement from you as possible, whether his attempts are successful or not. Remember that your toddler is just developing the ability to make connections between words and the physical skills that go along with them, so it may take a little while before he connects your requests with the right actions and do the right thing. After a little practice, when your toddler is asked to kick a ball he will not throw it, and you will have your own little team mate who is actually on the right page very soon.|
By the end of the 22nd month, your toddler is most likely able to kick a ball forward without tripping over it (most of the time), and after a lot of practice he is finally proficient at going from sitting to standing, and then from walking to running. You can continue to expect a few minor fender benders with table corners and walls, as his ability to apply his own brakes and quickly make sharp turns just isn't quite there yet, but he has come a long, long way.
Along with your toddler's lack of coordination regarding stopping short, he may also be falling more due to the inward foot position (pigeon-toe) that many children this age still have. This is quite normal for younger toddlers, and it should gradually develop into a more straight or outward foot stance as he gets older.
This month your toddler may also be able to start "catching" things (and not just runny noses). You will quickly learn that the best way to start practicing this new physical feat is to use a balloon. Not only is it the easiest way for little ones to catch because of its slow-motion effect, but it is also the least likely "ball" to cause damage in your home.
Although your toddler's ability to maneuver on the stairs continues to improve, ALWAYS use caution and lend a helping hand. Although his physical prowess may continue to amaze you, he still requires assistance in this area. Be very cautious about ensuring that safety gates are securely fastened at the top of your staircase as well, and never turn your back on your toddler if the gate is open. Although your little one may know of the danger that lurks below, the allure of trying to go down on his own may lead to a few new bumps and bruises, along with providing you with the scare of your life (as I recently had with one of my twin boys this week). Lesson learned...
|Listen To What I Can Say!|
This month your toddler's language and vocabulary skills have grown by leaps and bounds, and the days of a quiet child are memories from the past. Steady growth is apparent now more than ever, and her language at this point demonstrates a certain level of maturity. Your little one now understands "possession" (although she believes that everything is hers), classification, how to greet others, and how to describe an action that is taking place. Your toddler is also likely to put short three-word sentences together, and may have even begun sending an endless stream of questions your way as well (although you may only understand the last two words that you are presented with).|
At this age, "listening skills" are an integral part of your little one's language development. In order to encourage the development of this difficult, yet essential skill, read to your toddler often. Stories and nursery rhymes that have repetitive words allow your toddler to follow along and fill-in the blanks for you, and they are a great way to test whether or not she is paying attention. Songs with repetitive melodies and lyrics aid in the development of your toddler's ability to focus as well, and they also aid in improving her ability to memorize things. Think about how much easier it is for you to remember the lyrics to every song you've ever heard since childhood, as opposed to recalling a chapter in your favorite earth science book (at least for most of us).
This month your toddler has made huge strides regarding her ability to communicate, and is becoming more aware of how she is able to impact those around with her language. In particular, she loves watching how much control she now has over others with the use of words like "Stop!", "Help me!", "Look!", and of course, "No!" These new additions to her vocabulary, along with her recognition that she can make people jump, are actually enormous leaps as far as your toddler's development goes, so pay close attention and praise her achievements. Your recognition will not only empower her to try out new things, but it will also provide her with the confidence she needs right now to keep moving forward. Just on a side note, this is also a great month to reinforce good manners, and teach your toddler how to attach "please," and "thank you," to her demands.
Around the end of the 22nd month, your child may be able to understand a little more about how certain things relate to one another, and cause-and-effect relationships. Specifically, she may start to remember that "hot" objects lead to "boo-boos," and because of this it is a great time to begin teaching about rules. Because this is just the beginning of your toddler's ability to develop this new skill, don't expect miracles, but it is never too early to begin teaching about safety.
If you have concerns regarding your toddler's language skills and vocabulary acquisition, whether she appears to be falling behind or is slightly "off track," keep in mind that most toddlers this age still understand a lot more than they can say. Comprehension is by far the most essential component of language and vocabulary development at this age, so as long as she is able to get her point across, and understands what you're saying, there is still plenty of time for her to catch up. For the time being, be patient with her, and with yourself.
Puppets are a wonderful way to spark your toddler's growing imagination, and they a perfect way to simultaneously encourage the development of fine-motor skills and language. Puppets are also great for entertaining on a long car ride, and can easily transport your child to the land of make-believe when "re-directing" is essential.
Puppets of all shapes and sizes can easily be found in a children's toy store, however they are also very simple to make on your own. A few simple styles to choose from are: Sock puppets (find an old sock and use pieces of felt and fabric paint to create a character), Popsicle stick puppets (use construction paper or magazine clippings to create a character, cut it out and attach it to a Popsicle stick), and Finger puppets (take an old glove to make a "family" of finger puppets and use markers to decorate).
Whichever style you choose, home-made or store-bought, puppets are guaranteed fun for children (and adults) of all ages.
|Andrew and Devin's Opinion|
I have to admit, this was the first time that I had experimented with puppets since I was a child. Although I like to believe that I am a very "artsy" and creative person, I had never thought to make puppets with my children. However, now that I've had a crash course in puppet-making, I can't believe that I could be so out of touch with something so simple and so much fun.|
For this activity I opted to go for the sock puppet style for two reasons. First, I knew that I had quite a few colorful "odd socks" that my washing machine had mysteriously eaten, and second, I knew that my 22-month-old twin boys already loved to walk around the house with shoes and boots on their hands, so I assumed socks would be a no-brainer.
Prior to beginning our activity I had laid out our materials (socks, big buttons, big googly eyes, and felt) on the table. I then called in my boys, one at a time, to select the socks and various pieces for their individual puppets. With a little encouragement Andrew and Devin selected eyes, noses and other decorations that they appeared "drawn to" for their puppets. After their selection, I quickly scurried them out of the room and sewed the "faces" onto the socks. I decided to sew the pieces on instead of gluing them, simply because my boys still put things in their mouths that they shouldn't, and I trusted that my sewing skills would outlast any industrial strength glue I could find.
After creating two very funny looking puppets, I took them for a test run in front of the mirror, then after a final approval brought them out to Andrew and Devin. At first, both boys appeared a little frightened by the lives that their socks had suddenly taken on, and particularly confused by the voices that I had chosen to give them.
Deciding to up the ante a bit, I then placed an individual puppet on each of the boys' arms, unsure of how they would react. After a few attempts to shake them off, Andrew and Devin quickly realized that they had control over these little creatures and that no harm would come. Two seconds later they were off and running...literally, Devin was chasing poor little Andrew throughout the house pretending his sock was a dinosaur, roaring like I had never heard him roar before.
Overall, I would say that this activity is great for toddlers this age. Easy to make and hours of enjoyment?...it doesn't get much better.
|Have you begun to wonder...|
Should I start correcting my toddler's grammatical errors? |
The answer to this question is a plain and simple no. Now is not the time to begin teaching your toddler the rules of grammar. She has just become comfortable trying out her new language skills, and the last thing she needs to hear from you is that she's not doing it "correctly." Pressuring your toddler to speak correctly right now will not enhance her language development, but rather, may cause her to stop speaking out of fear that she may make a mistake. Do your best to hold your tongue, and not stifle your toddler's attempt to communicate in any way.
Beginning to speak can be very intimidating and extremely challenging for young children, so praise for trying and having a translator as a parent are all that your toddler requires this month.
On the flip side, it is appropriate to "echo" back to your toddler the correct way of saying something (repeating what she says to you in order to ensure you heard her correctly) as long as it is not done in a derogatory or "correcting" manner.
Overall, at this young age, the most important thing you can do when you hear your toddler's mispronunciations and foibles, is to be patient, set a good example and enjoy your toddler's adorable attempts to get her point across.
|Coping With Your Toddler’s New Fears|
What parent would not love to have an imaginative child? Children with active imaginations can entertain themselves as they create make believe worlds out of a few toys or parental castoffs. As they get older, children whose imaginations have been nurtured and encouraged may tend to do better in school and not plague their parents with the dreaded "I'm bored!" quite as often. In order to get to that point, however, a toddler's imagination has to go through a few growing pains first. Most toddlers' imaginations will begin to take off close to the age of two. It is at this age that children can begin to associate mental pictures with a physical reality and a spoken word. The complexity of the brain development that your child is undergoing at this age is absolutely astounding and while it can be immense fun to witness during the day, it can be troublesome and frustrating at night when your toddler's burgeoning imagination begins both to see things that are not there and to impart sinister qualities to innocent objects. |
Especially for a parent dealing with a first child, it can be heart wrenching to see that child afraid, whether of the dark, monsters in the closet or of the wind rattling the shutter outside the window. As rational adults, we know that there is nothing to fear. We can even explain to our children why it is that there is nothing to fear. Any parent who has tried this approach will, of course, attest to the fact that it is a pointless waste of time with a frightened toddler! Toddlers are not known for being the world's most rational of creatures! One thing that is paramount to remember is that you do not want your own actions to convey the message to your toddler that there really is something to fear. By this I mean, if you indulge your toddler's fear of the dark, the wind or of the scary shadow cast by the dresser, you may very well end up sending the message that it truly it is scary. To that end, if you find that the very same imagination that is so delightful during the day ends up being not-so-delightful at night, make sure that you have a plan of action and that you stick to it. Resolve not to alter your child's bedtime routine. You have probably learned by now your child thrives on routine and that routine can end up being a comfort in and of itself. If your toddler expresses a fear to you and you decide that "just this once" he can sleep in your room or that "just this once" you will leave the closet light on, you have disrupted the normal routine and have subconsciously conveyed the message that there may in fact be some substance to the fear.
None of this is to suggest that you should not be compassionate regarding your child's fear. Who among us has not been afraid, especially as a child? It is important to validate your child's fear, and to let her know that you care that she is frightened. Go ahead and give the room a quick once over if it makes her feel better but hold firm to your normal bedtime routines. If you ordinarily have just one night light, then stick with that one night light. If it makes you feel better, take an extra few minutes by her crib or bed singing to her or rubbing her back but be firm when you decide to leave. Let her know that you will check on her and then be true to your word. Leaving soft music playing can be soothing for a toddler as well as making it easier to fall asleep under any circumstances. These new fears can be scary for both parents and children but letting your child learn to deal with them, with your compassion and support, will give her greater confidence to deal with the next challenge that comes her way. As with everything else regarding your child, this too shall pass.
|The Smoke Detector|
My daughter, Therese, developed an unreasonable fear of the smoke detector in her room right around this age. She had never even noticed the object on her ceiling before, until one night she decided that it was the most ominous thing that she had ever laid her almost-two year old eyes on. Nothing my husband and I did could convince her that it would not hurt her. Like any well meaning first time parents, we patiently explained what the smoke detector was for and that it was a good and necessary thing to have in her room. Naturally, she could not have cared less. The dark did not bother her. The fact that the wind rattled the window in its pane did not bother her. That smoke detector lying almost flush against the ceiling bothered her tremendously. I was determined that she would learn to adjust to a bedroom that contained a smoke detector. I bent the bedtime rules to accommodate an extra song or two and I would rub her back and stroke her hair for a few extra minutes but as soon as I went to leave, she would be standing in the corner of her crib pointing at the "moke tector". Given that the hall smoke detector was right outside her bedroom, I decided that I would just take her smoke detector down since it bothered her so much. Ironically, however, the sight of the hole in the ceiling with wires coming from it was a whole lot more disturbing than the object itself had been and right back up went the smoke detector. She was much less bothered from that point forward and now, five years later, she has no memory of the fear at all. The fact that I was willing to take down the smoke detector after I had ascertained that there was another one mere feet away, albeit out of view illustrates the most important lesson of all regarding your toddler's fears. The lesson: You have to be comfortable with the measures that you take as a parent. Experience as a parent of four children has taught me that a toddler's fear will not be his undoing. As unnerving as it is for a parent, particularly a first time parent, the fear will pass, usually fairly quickly, and your child will have little memory of it.|
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