Thursday, November 3, 2011
Older Toddlers 18-24 months
Of course I still think of my little girl as a baby and not a toddler. Even strangers still ask me how old my 'baby' is. But I have come to accept she has grown, sigh, and she is in the middle toddler stage- that hard age where you have to watch them like a hawk and they are faster than ever. Not to mention super independent and easily frustrated.
Even though I know this is the hard age (between 18-24 months), I still had to get out my old grad school reading materials just to confirm it, so I don't think I'm going crazy.
It felt good to re-read some of these points and to definitely remember them these next few months:
-Language is hard for toddlers at this stage because their words are so limited. Words can express parts of an experience but not the whole experience, so when a toy gets broken, words like 'sad' are not adequate enough and can't capture the toddler's intensity of their loss. At these times, a hug and holding your child can convey feelings much better than words.
-Understand that your toddler can't "sit still" for long periods and you need to gauge rest stops, breaks, and the need to switch to a new activity by your child's restlessness and agitation.
(Keep in mind that the attention span of a 4-5 year old is 10 minutes! So imagine that for a 1-2 year old, it's about 1-2 minutes) :)
-Remember that a child's frustration level peaks around 17-24 months of age! They are trying to become increasingly independent at the same time they are trying to use new words, so their need to be willful may override their ability to communicate her needs or explain her behavior. How to best deal with this? Patience and understanding and help them with their words. For instance if they say "Bye Bye" ask them if they mean they want to go outside, or if they are wanting to move to a new activity.
-Introduce gradual transitions throughout the day so they do not feel rushed or interrupted. Give time limit warnings such as "in 5 minutes, we are going to go and take a bath."
-Keep in mind that when a toddler gets easily frustrated, that they also might need a change of play, such as going outside, runninh around a park, engaging in quiet/story time, or turning on a children's CD to sing songs, etc.
Keeping these little tips in mind helps me understand that all children have tough times and are easily frustrated and that hopefully soon, they will be able to express themselves better and their tolerance to frustration will increase.
I think having more patience is the key at this age too, but sometimes it's hard to have when we are rushed, or have a lot to do and get done in a short amount of time and our child is having a melt down.
We just have to remember that things will get done, and take the Scarlet O'Hara approach: "I'll just worry about that tomorrow (or another day)" :)