In many families today, mothers and fathers both have jobs. There also are many single-parent families where a mother or father has to work outside the home. When parents are away from home, they need someone they can trust to take care of their toddlers. That someone might be you! Taking care of someone’s child is an important job. If you know about toddlers, you will know how to take care of them. You will be prepared to do your best work. If you know how toddlers grow and develop, you will not expect a 2-year-old to speak in entire sentences or a 3-year-old to ride a bicycle. You will know what to do when a toddler says “no!” You will know what changes to expect the next time you are asked to be a caregiver.
WHO ARE TODDLERS?
Children from 18 months to 3 years are called toddlers. Two-and 3-year-olds toddlers learn to walk and tend to “toddle” about on unsteady legs. By the time children are 4 years old, they are past the toddler stage because they have learned to walk, run, climb, open, close, talk, and make friends. Toddlerhood is a stage of independence. Toddlers want to do everything for themselves. They experiment with their newly-learned skills and ideas by rebelling against caregiver’s wishes and by saying “no” so many times a day that they begin to sound like broken records!
Around 2 years, toddlers begin to understand language. Words and short sentences make an exciting new development in a toddler’s thinking. They learn to connect words with actions and objects and begin to communicate. “Go car,” “bad dog,” and “read book” all become familiar
Toddlers grow physically and socially as their muscles develop and they learn muscle control. They use their eyes, hands, feet, and bodies together in constant motion. They climb, push, pull, and touch everything within reach. They kick, throw, dance, chase, and fall down. Feeling and tasting also become learning methods for toddlers and can be dangerous unless the house has been safety-proofed.
Socially, toddlers enjoy family members and other children, but may be afraid of strangers like new caregivers. Two- and 3-year-olds often develop fears of unfamiliar sights (men with beards, people who wear glasses) and sounds (the vacuum cleaner, thunderstorms). They may need lots of reassurance to calm down after they have been frightened.
Temper tantrums are normal for toddlers because they have not learned how to share. They often become upset when they cannot have things their own way. Their attention spans are short and they quickly lose interest in what they are doing.
Next week, “Facts to know about toddlers.”