Just for laughs No, it's not just that you're over-tired. Toddlers are funny. As they get better at understanding how their world works, they begin to play around with how it doesn't work. A toddler knows that hats don't go on elbows, that dogs don't wear pajamas. It's the improbable or the incongruous that we all find funny, toddlers included.
Your toddler's first joke is a milestone as impressive as her first tooth or first step — maybe even more impressive because so many skills and abilities come together as a sense of humour blooms (and because it's a lot more fun than a tooth coming in!).
Read more: How kids develop a sense of humour>
Time ins and outs Sometimes it's all a bit much. For a fast-growing toddler who knows what she wants but can't quite do it, the obstacles she meets daily can cause frustration overload. It can be overwhelming too, for a parent who has to keep a couple of steps ahead of a lively (even demanding) toddler. It might seem like you and your toddler are completely at cross purposes some days. A “time in” might help — no TV, no phone, no housework, just a little break to be face-to-face with your child and reconnect. A few minutes sitting together, without distractions, can reassure you both that you are on the same team.
Other times, a toddler simply goes a little too far. If she might get hurt, or hurt someone else, you need to take some immediate action — perhaps a “time out” from the situation that's causing the difficulty. If too many kids in a too-small sandbox is resulting in raucous behaviour, or if you're visiting a home full of crystal figurines and your toddler can't contain herself, it's a good idea to remove her and give her a break. She can't recognize the signals that would warn her when a situation is getting out of control, or know that she needs to get out of there.
Our discipline guide has great info on the special challenges of setting limits with toddlers.
Read more: What to do if time outs aren't working>
Playtime! The young author Your child would love to be an author. Sure, she might need a little help from a grown-up, but she can be the creative director and think up the story (no, there may not be much in the way of “plot”). Fold a few sheets of paper in half, add a sheet of construction paper for the cover, then staple the book together or punch holes along the spine and tie it with colourful yarn.
Now the two of you can get creative. Your first-time author can draw some pictures (don't forget to decorate the cover) or you can go through old magazines and find pictures she would like to paste in. Ask what she would like you to write in the book — use big, plain printing. She might like to add a few scribbles, too. And when you read her story back to her, she'll be thrilled. You will be too — the parent of an author.
Read more: How to read so your kids will listen>
Originally published on Oct. 23, 2011.