The Toddler Years: What to Expect
Help! My beautiful baby has turned into a terrible toddler!
by Adina Rich
When you are in the sleep deprived state of parenting a newborn, it inevitably leads to the wondrous imaginings of toddlerdom. Oh, they will be able to hold the milk themselves, you think. They will be able to entertain themselves long enough for me to take a shower or make a quick phone call. I can’t wait until they are old enough to play with friends. I can’t wait to see how their personality will develop. However, as the old adage warns, be careful what you wish for. Not only do those sleeping babies begin to grow and change, there will be days that you do not even recognize them.
After about age one, babies begin to develop a fuller sense of self. They start to see that objects and people are still there even when he or she cannot see them. Therefore, toddlers’ separation anxiety generally begins to decrease. With that realization, toddlers begin to develop more confidence, and begin to develop independence. It is amazing for parents to see, that after months of doing everything for them, that toddlers can and want to do things on their own. However, this desire inevitably leads to more anxiety and frustration on the part of both the parent and the child.
Motor skills are constantly changing. When your child takes his or her first steps, it opens up new doors for everyone! Now your tot can get to what he or she needs without waiting for you to get it for them. Childproofing is a must for children of this age. Children at this age have enhanced fine motor skills. You will notice that they can find the minutest crumb on a beige carpet and get it to their mouth with unnerving ease.
Children begin to dress themselves, although you will soon see that the outfit combinations or seasonal items may not have been what you would have chosen for them. Although they can recognize the word NO, they often appear that they do not hear you when you say no to them. This has less to do with a hearing problem and more to do with testing limits.
Language explodes during the toddler years. Many times children are able to string words together such as “go park”. Comprehension rises dramatically, so toddlers are often able to understand, for example, if parents talk about going to the park, what parents are referring to, and seem to get very distressed if it doesn’t happen immediately. Between 18-24 months, children learn as many as nine words per day!
Toddlers have an enhanced use of creative or pretend play. When they are able to do this, it shows that they are beginning to understand the purpose of abstract thoughts and the fact that symbols can take the place of real objects. Parents can foster the development of pretend play by giving children things like pretend food, play telephones or computers, dolls, or dress-up clothes.
Toddlers begin to understand the skill of empathy and the fact that others have feelings. Parents are instrumental in modeling these skills for their children. Children take cues on how to act from their parents.
Remember that all development falls on a continuum, and not all children develop at the same rate. If your child’s skills and abilities do not follow these patterns within about 15-18 months and you are truly concerned, consult your pediatrician, Early Childhood Intervention provider, or a developmental specialist as soon as possible.
Toddler time is truly a time to explore, but parents need to understand that this is the perfect time for setting guidelines and boundaries for this new found freedom. With just a little bit of planning, you and your child will both celebrate and enjoy these independent days!!
For more information about parenting and guidance or developmental milestones contact Adina Rich, a certified National Trainer for Practical Parent, and the director of Rich Educational Consulting, LLC. , at 972-816-3100 or visit our website www.richeducationalconsulting.com.