An insider's guide to two turbulent, tender and terrific years
Welcome to toddlerhood. In these two whirlwind years kicked off by the first birthday, your dependent little baby will become a competent young child. You won’t see such a dramatic transformation — or such intense ups and downs — again until puberty. Parenting a toddler is a heart-melting, fun and funny experience…except when it’s frustrating, exhausting and stressful.
W e chart some of the changes and challenges of toddler development — and what parents can do to help.
Walking is the milestone that divides baby and “toddler,” but there are many other physical advances challenging your child right now. One- and two-year-olds are very physical little people, learning through plenty of hands-on exploration (and sometimes demolition), and expressing emotion with the whole body.
Mobility Once your child is upright, the world is a different place with many new possibilities. When she is up and steady on her own two legs, watch for these next steps:
• walking while dragging or pushing a toy
• squatting to pick up an object
• climbing — not only stairs, but anything scaleable
• jumping — off a low structure, then from standing
• kicking a ball
Janice MacAulay, executive director of the Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs in Ottawa, suggests there is something to learn from our response to a child’s first steps: “We know we can’t rush walking. We don’t see falling on her bum as a ‘mistake’ or scold her when she falls.” We might do well to look at other developmental advances, such as toilet training or social skills, in the same light, MacAulay says.
Handy hands Your child’s fine-motor skills will also increase over these two years, as he learns to pick up small bits of food, use a spoon and put together simple puzzles. The downside: He may also learn to undo your purse buckle or pry open a “childproof” medicine bottle — so vigilance is essential.