Saturday, May 29, 2010

Letting your toddler thrive

Providing your toddler with a happy and healthy environment to thrive in requires a lot of time, nurturing, and attentiveness on the part of the parents. This can be an intimidating responsibility because we are laying the foundation for the physical, intellectual, and emotional well being of our child. As a first time parent and friend to other first time parents, I am finding out that creating the most suitable environment for your toddler to thrive in varies with each child's individual needs.

From the moment we bring our tiny cooing bundle home from the hospital to the time we are all but bubble wrapping our house to prevent trips to the hospital, we instinctively begin providing basic needs for our child. The need for unconditional love and affection, mental and physical stimulation, and social interaction does not change from infant to toddler, but how we cater to those needs does change. As they begin to understand and navigate the world around them, toddlers will be able to comprehend more complex concepts such as learning to talk and carrying out simple requests made by their parents. We can encourage our toddler's growing curiosity about understanding our world by providing them with some essential needs.

Toddlers need plenty of love and affection and will learn how to reciprocate their love and affection to others from you. Make sure you let them know how much they are loved through plenty of verbal and physical displays of affection. Hugs, kisses, and cuddling comes naturally to some parents while others may need to make a more concerted effort to display their emotions. If you are one parent that needs to make more of an effort, by no means does this imply that you care for your child any less than someone who has no problem displaying their emotions. The fact that you do make an effort to provide this vital need for your toddler to thrive both psychologically and socially puts any such implication to rest.

Thanks to modern technology, we have access to a myriad of learning tools, toys, and games built especially to help toddlers expand their physical and mental capacity. Take advantage of them! These games and toys can also give your toddler some independent play time which lets you have some of that rare and sacred free time to relax, if only for a few moments. You can also play simple games with your toddler that achieves the same result at my favorite price: free. Play basic recognition games such as pointing out shapes, objects, and people to your child.

Play with your toddler on the playground or play hide and seek in your own back yard or house. These activities will also strengthen your bond with your little one. Introducing your toddler to other children their age or setting play dates will develop their social skills. Although they may not understand what you are telling them, frequently talking to your child will also help them develop their ability to socialize.

The "nurturing needs" (for lack of a better term) such as physical, mental, and emotional development are not the only needs that provide your toddler with the ability to thrive. I believe it is essential to provide a toddler with the familiarity of routine. When a child has the reassurance of a stable routine at home, they will be more confident and at ease in their environment and in new ones. They will know that regardless of what new situations may occur in their day, they can rely on coming home to the routines that they have become comfortable with. Teaching a toddler discipline is the earliest introduction of morals. They may not fully understand why it is not acceptable to hit or shout indoors but through disciplinary action such as time outs or giving your toddler to the count of three to comply with your request, they will establish a basic sense of right and wrong.

This task of providing a thriving environment for your toddler is definitely not an easy one, especially when you consider the toddler's state of mind. While they are not as dependent upon you as an infant, they are still more dependent on you than a child of school age is. Navigating your way through the toddler years can be trying for both you and your little one. When you provide your toddler with their essential needs, it will insure greater success in helping them thrive into well adjusted children, and eventually well adjusted adults.

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