Our children are capable, competent beings from birth. Often the struggles we find ourselves caught in with our children can be eased by recognizing and honoring their age appropriate capabilities. And with their capable, competent selves appreciated and affirmed, we can now build a strong foundation for the future independent and successful adult we all hope for.
This continuing series at Positive Parenting Connection will be covering the different ages & stages from Babies on up, bringing you great information about each phase of childhood. Part one was about Babies.
Part II: Toddlers! Oh what an astounding age. If we are slow on the uptake of increasing their opportunities to show how in charge and capable they can be, they will remind us. Over and over and over again until we get it right.
The key? Including them in the process as much as possible. Give them the opportunity and choice to:
Work on putting their clothes on, be it the young toddler laying their sock over their foot, moving it off, laying it over, moving it off: “I see you are working at putting on your socks!” or the older toddler choosing which shirt to put on and which arm they want to put in first: “You chose the flower shirt! I wonder if you can put your right arm in a-l-l the way.” And then giving them the space and time to try.
Help up at the counter mixing, pouring, tasting. Toddlers can crack eggs, scoop flour, pour liquids, knead, cut soft things with butter knives. The more you can include them the less likely theyʼll be hanging on your legs crying or whining. If you are doing something they cannot, offer them their own bowl and ingredients to work with—and find it within you to be okay with the mess.
Read more about self-care skills for toddlers.
Be in charge of their bodies—how they want to move, who or whether they want to hug, when they feel done with wrestling with you. Hear their version of “Stop!” and respect it. And the times you need to do something? “You really donʼt like it when I rinse the shampoo out of your hair. Letʼs do it quickly and then zip you out of the tub to dry off with your great big teddy bear towel. Are you ready?” Read more about fun ways toddlers can learn about their body.
Do household chores with you—provide a child sized broom, let them push the vacuum, accept their help loading the washer or sorting the socks, give them a sponge and bucket for soaking up messes. Milk spilled? Great fun using a sponge and squishing it out over the sink. Dishes to do? Strip them down, put them on a chair, and give them soapy water and the non-breakables to wash and rinse and wash and rinse and wash and rinse. Read more about encouraging young children to help with chores and age appropriate chores.
Including your toddler in the process of life—be it dressing, eating, cooking, cleaning, loading in the car, doing errands—is essential for building healthy, strong relationships and self-directed, capable, confident adults.
No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame
photo credit: Flickr
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