Knowing how toddlers grow

This is the age when children begin to realize that they are separate from their mother. More than anything else, they want to establish their independence to do things by themselves. That’s why they say "no" so often when asked to do something.

  • It isn’t negativism- they just want to practice making decisions. Sharing and toilet training are two skills that need practice during this period.
  • As children get older, offer them choices whenever possible. Let them pick one of two shirts, for example. Such choices give them a chance to make decisions without having to fight with you.
  • Sharing is a hard thing to learn. Verbal praise for the times when they do share teaches more quickly and kindly than other methods. Avoid "ordering" children to share. Encourage children to put special things away that they do not wish to share.
  • Not all children mature at the same rate and toilet training is a matter of physical readiness. Ask your doctor for help in deciding when your child will be ready.
  • New independence, coupled with natural curiosity about the world, demands an older, wiser person be with toddlers at all times. Take care: to avoid falls down stairs or playground heights; to prevent poisoning, drowning, fires, or being hit by vehicles; and to make home and yard as "child-safe" as possible. Itís serious work.

Self-care for parents - As children begin exploring your house, putting dangerous things out of baby’s reach will make everyone happier. Find ways of relieving stress, such as physical exercise, hobbies, reading, sewing, doing your nails and talking to friends and relatives. Consider joining a parent support group.

Ways to make shopping with children easier

  • Plan trips when children are not tired or hungry. Go when you’re both rested, not at the end of a tiring day.
  • Discuss rules before entering store. "When we leave, you can select a package of ___ if you remember the rules."
  • Bring a nutritious snack for your child to eat during the shopping trip (raisins, cut-up apples, nuts, etc.)
  • Bring a favorite blanket, toy or book from home to help make him feel secure.
  • Give the child a responsibility based on age and ability. (Help select hardest apples, match coupons with labels find cheapest green beans).
  • Select a secret word or signal that you can both use to get the immediate attention of the other.
  • Don’t let the child out of your sight. Hold hands. Let him hold onto or help steer the grocery cart.
  • Reinforce appropriate behavior. Talk with him, play with him, engage him in the decision making process. Encourage him to talk, watch, listen and think.
  • Make a game of it. "Do you remember what animal bacon comes from? What cereal can you see in a purple box? Find the peas in the red can, etc."
  • Play "I Spy" in the check-out lane and have the children guess what you see; find the things in an aisle that are red, in cans, are for eating, are not for eating, etc.
  • Sing quiet songs together while rolling the cart, encouraging him to chime in on verses he knows; make a silly song about spinach; while waiting in line tell your child’s favorite story.
  • Consider having someone you trust watch your child while you shop! It can be "you" time.