One of your most important jobs is to help your child understand who he is and help him feel capable of doing things for himself. A child begins very early to form either positive or negative pictures of himself.
You can help your child feel capable by:
- Telling him that you like who he is and you like the way he does things. Let him know when you think he does a good job.
- Use smiles as well as words. Thank him for hanging his towel up.
- Tell your child what to do —rather than what not to do. Instead of saying, “Don’t carry the cat that way” say, “Carry your cat like this.” That helps him learn how to do things the right way.
- Listen carefully. Take time to understand his feelings, his joys, and his fears. You are showing him that his ideas and feelings are important. All this will help him to feel valued and capable. You are helping him become the responsible, successful person you want him to be.
Parents often think they aren’t doing a “good” job if their children don’t act the way they “should.” No matter how good you are as a parent, your child will misbehave. If you feel responsible for all of your child’s misbehavior you will feel stress. That stress is hard on you and can cause you to be hard on your child. This will make things worse for both of you.
- Think positive. Instead of putting yourself down, try to give yourself some helpful messages. For example, sometimes parents think, “If I were a good parent, my child wouldn’t be having so many tantrums.” How about telling yourself and your child, “We got through that trip to the store without any fussing at all!”
- No one is perfect. Young children need parents who try their best, but that doesn’t mean we can succeed 100 percent of the time. We all make mistakes. When you’re not feeling OK, try your best, but don’t worry that you are not a super parent. Give yourself and your child credit for the good times and remember that nobody is perfect.
Your toddler will learn how to match objects that are alike. These kinds of games help him do better in school later on.
- Cardboard sheet about 81/2 by 11 inches
- White paper
Making the Toy
- Draw simple shapes like a circle, a square, a triangle, and a star on the cardboard. Color each shape with one crayon.
- Then draw, color and cut out the same matching shapes from white paper.
Show your child how to match the cut-out shapes to the shapes drawn on the board. Talk about the pieces, naming their shapes. Ask your child to put the star on the star, the circle on the circle, the square on the square, and so on.
Remember, play this and any game only as long as it is fun for both of you. Praise your child’s efforts; do not point out her failures.
Your toddler is learning fast. You love his curiosity and you want him to ask questions because you know it means he is learning. Do you listen to his questions about sex?
Your toddler will have questions about where babies come from and why boys and girls look different from each other. Sure, these questions can be embarrassing, especially when they come when you are in public.
Whenever you see your little one wondering about sex, you have a good chance to help him. You can show your toddler you like his curiosity and you want him to learn about all kinds of things, including sex.
If you can talk to your child now about sex, it will be much easier for both of you to talk about it later. As he grows, the way he thinks and acts about sex will become more important to him and to his relationships with others.
Your toddler will wonder about babies and where they come from. Tell him the truth in words that he knows —something like “Babies grow in a special place inside the mother’s body.” Show him you are glad he asked the question. If he asks how babies get inside the mother, you may simply say that, “Babies are made by mothers and fathers together.” You could explain that the father’s sperm comes into the mother through the father’s penis.
Your child’s early questions about sex may be about the differences between men and women.
- Little girls may wonder why they have no penis; boys may worry that they could lose their penis. You can help your child learn that boys and girls are born with different genitals or private parts.
- Your toddler should know the correct names for his body’s sexual parts. Teach him these as you teach him the names of other body parts.
All young children handle their genitals. Most children like to explore all parts of their bodies. When they handle their genitals and find that this feels good; they may rub them. They may rub them when they feel bored or upset.
Some exploring of genitals does no harm. It is normal and it is best for you to ignore it. If you try to stop it and tell your children that they have done something wrong, they might think that sex and sexual feelings are bad. Just re-direct them and get them interested in playing with a toy or playing a game with you.
Sometimes, when young children play together, they push, hit, slap, or bite. Biting and forceful hitting must be stopped right away. Most children bite and hit when they are feeling angry or frustrated. When your little one bites you or another child:
- Say firmly, “No. Biting hurts.”
- Move her to a safe place; look her in the eyes and say, “Stay here until you feel calmer. I cannot let you bite.” After a minute or two (never more than two minutes), ask her if she is ready to play again without biting or hitting. If she says yes, let her return to her play.
- Never bite or hit your toddler back. This does not stop the biting. In fact, it may make her believe that biting is all right.
- Most children who bite only do it for a short time.
Hitting may continue for a longer time than biting. Help your toddler learn better ways to handle her anger.
- Teach her to use words like “Stop that,” “Go away,” “I don’t like that” instead of hitting and biting.
- When your little one uses words instead of hurting someone, praise her with words and hugs and say, “You did a good job of using words instead of hurting.”
As your toddler learns to say her feelings in words, the hitting and biting will decrease.
Many girls are ready for toilet training or potty training at about age 2. Most boys are ready at about 21/2 years. Boys and girls differ in their development at this age. Don’t rush toilet training.
When you think your child is ready to be trained to use the toilet:
- Teach your child the words he needs to ask to go to the toilet. A good time to do this is when you change his diaper. Tell him why you are changing him. “You urinated and made your diapers wet” or “You had a BM or bowel movement.” Show him and tell him the word for the toilet or potty chair you will want him to use. Some children will let you know when they need to go to the toilet by saying the words, pulling your hand, or tugging at their diaper.
- When your child is ready for training, it helps to dress him in loose-fitting training pants that can pull off easily.
- When your child shows he wants to go to the toilet, sit with him at least the first few times.
- Don’t give him toys to play with.
- Don’t insist that he sit on the toilet when he wants to get off, even if he has not “done” anything.
- Always praise for successes by saying things like, “You made it to the potty!” Don’t punish accidents.