Sometimes living with a toddler can seem like you are living in Seuss Landing? We all know how exhausting a toddler can be for both parents and grandparents. One of the best things you can do for your children is pinch hit when they need it and your schedule permits. Of course, you’ll also have to be in pretty good shape to hold your own with an active child. Don’t be discouraged if your grandchild balks initially at being separated from her parents. Sometimes this will happen even if you are a regular visitor.
One of the most important lessons that your grandchild learns during this period is autonomy. She becomes aware of herself as a separate person who want to do things for herself. The toddler demonstrates her autonomy and her desire for more of it by mastering her own body, including walking, climbing, jumping and grabbing things and letting them go. She learns to control her bodily functions.
Toilet training is another of those areas that can drive parents nuts. Unfortunately, there always seem to be good reasons for parents to begin toilet training that have nothing to do with the child. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, toilet training wa begun very early, not only because there were no washing machines or disposable diapers, but also because it was believed that regularity was important to good health. In 1914, The U. S. Children’s Bureau recommended that toilet training begin at three months or earlier! Though hardly anyone would suggest starting this early today, more and more parents feel pressured because they are sending their kids to day-care facilities that only accept children who are already out of diapers.
Remember to maintain some perspective and a good sense of humor. Also remember that everyone seems to get the hang of toilet training by the time they move on to other challenges, such as getting a driver’s license, taking college entrance exams, or getting married!
The toddler’s search for autonomy is enshrined in the fold wisdom concept of the terrible twos. Unlike the infant who expresses her discomfort by crying, the toddle makes her feeling felt far more directly. Since the child is now verbal, she can object with a resounding “NO” to your suggestions. Since she is mobile, she can walk or run away when you call her or tell her to do something. For example, you may be trying to get home by a certain hour and you want her to sit in her stroller so you can get there as quickly as possible. She wants to walk and tells you so. You try to put her in her stroller and she tries to wiggle out as you try to buckle her in. It can just drive you crazy!
Although such behavior can try the patience of the most saintly mother or grandmother, it is important to appreciate such words and behavior for what they are: natural assertions of your childs or grandchild autonomy. And they do pass! Don’t worry they move up to preschooler status. One of the most important things we can do with our grandchildren during the preschool years is play. Play does not begin with the preschooler, of course; it starts earlier, and ideally it should be a lifelong activity. But there ar a few reasons for giving it special attention at this point in the child’s development. In earlier generations going to college was a significant achievement and getting into a good school was an important part of children’s high school experiences, today parents want to be sure that their children get into the right preschool, kindergarten, or elementary school.
Toy and game manufacturers have been quick to capitalize on this enthusiasm by developing specifically educational toys and slapping the label “educational” on almost anything they produce in the hope it will attract more buyers. It is certainly not my intention to criticise products or activities that prepare children for school. I am an enthusiastic supporter of any program that promotes education by strengthening families and increasing the involvement of parents in their children’s lives.
However, it seems that parents and grandparents can get so involved in preparing children for formal school that they often forget just how valuable play is in this preparation.
More than once I’ve been introduced to someone’s precocious child or grandchild who has already been taught to read or do math or who has memorized the state capitals. Whether we’re talking about formal games with specific rules to be learned and followed, competitive games with winners and losers, or just fooling around by dressing up and pretending, never underestimate the importance of play!