Toddler Development – Learning The Ropes!
Toddlers develop and learn through exploring and experimenting – your job as a parent, guardian, family member etc is to support and encourage them.
As toddlers grow and learn they begin to push the boundaries, in growth and behaviour. This can provide challenges for parents as their toddler becomes more active and adventurous. Use the information below to help support your toddler as they grow, learn and develop.
Learning by doing
Toddlers do much of their learning through experience and practice. During the toddler development stage they spend time trying to make sense of the world around them and that means a lot of exploring and experimenting. It may seem like they are being naughty and simply trying to ‘push your button’ when, in reality, they are just doing the things that help them to learn and develop, such as repeatedly dropping things from their high chair to see who will pick it up.
As your child becomes more independent and increasingly pushes the boundaries it is important to ensure that they feel secure and know what the limits are and that their environment is safe. Once you have made the environment safe – get down to their eye level to see what they will be interested in that is within range – you can then help them to learn about the boundaries you have established.
Your toddler will feel secure if you are consistent and fair with rules and expectations around their behaviour. Consistency helps children to learn. Try to have the same rules every day.
Good communication is the key
Your toddler wants to make you happy and they find it easier if they know what you want them to do. You can make a big difference to your toddler’s behaviour by the way you communicate, such as:
* saying clearly what you want your child to do
* giving lots of positive feedback and praise – telling your child that they are doing something well helps them to develop self-confidence and when children feel confident and good about themselves, they are able to learn new things.
Time, practice, love and patience during toddler development
Telling and showing your toddler what you want them to do will help them to manage their own behaviour – it takes time, practice, love and patience. Your toddler will not always understand what you expect the first time. You might need to explain again, show them, and work alongside them. For example with tidying up – you will be able to reduce your help over time until they are doing most of the tidying themselves.You can also help your toddler by talking about the consequences of what they do. For example, “If you run inside you might bang into something and hurt yourself” or “If you pull the cat’s tail the cat will scratch you.”
When teaching your toddler about managing their behaviour, don’t hold back your love when they don’t do what you want – this can hurt your child. Make sure they understand that you love them and it is their behaviour you don’t like.
Smacking and hitting are not effective ways of toddler development or to help your toddler learn how to behave or how to get along with others. When children get hit, they learn that hitting other people is okay. What they don’t learn is how to manage their own behaviour.
Shouting and yelling can also be very frightening for your child. Instead, it is better to use laughter or a quiet voice to help calm everyone down. It gives you time to explain why, for example, drawing all over your brand new wallpaper is not a good idea! Sometimes you will need to take several deep breaths before you do or say anything.
Toddler Development Continued
Keeping them safe
At some stage during their toddler development stage, all parents wish they had ‘eyes in the back of their head’. As your child grows in confidence, becomes more independent and more adventurous, the risk of accidents increases. Finding a balance between letting your child explore and keeping them safe can be difficult.
When your toddler is outside:
* be aware of risks and dangers – prevent an accident before it happens
* hold hands at all times when you are near the road or any area where there are cars, including car parks – young children do not have the ability to judge speed or to foresee danger
* help your child learn to take small risks that they can manage, rather than risks that are too big, so they learn about what they can and cannot do by themselves. For example, “Can you jump from there? You might need my help. Do you want to hold on to my hand? Bend your knees when you land.”
* always supervise or have another adult supervising your child so that you know where your child is and what they are doing. Check all the time – don’t wait for things to go quiet
* check that your backyard is safe for a child to play in. In particular, be wary of any water, such as ponds, streams, pools and small containers. A young child can drown in just a few centimetres or a bucket of water, so always supervise your children near water and paddling pools.
Toddler Development – saying “yes” more often
When you are trying to keep your toddler safe, the child needs to learn that you are serious and it is not a game. This is one of the reasons to say ‘yes’ more often than you say ‘no’. That way when you do have to say ‘no’ to keep your child safe, it will really mean something.
Give simple reasons to your toddler for safety rules, such as:
we stop at the side of the road and look before we cross to make sure no cars are coming, because we don’t want a car to hit us you hold on to my hand, my leg or my bag in the car park so I know where you are. That’s because you are small and the car drivers can’t see you but they can see me.
As your toddler becomes more independent and is going through the toddler development stage, try to let them learn by being adventurous and active, but be prepared to take time and repeat your safety rules again and again to help them learn about being safe as well.
Here is a great resource website all about positive parenting. Please take the time to visit this site as it contains a wealth of parenting information.