I am Toddler, Hear me Roar: Learning to Live With and Love Your Toddler"
The Terrible Twos: A Preview of the Teenage Years
Angry. Opinionated. Possessing a unique will and capabilities. Ready to explore the world, regardless of whether his or her parents think he or she is ready to do so. Although this description may seem to fit the profile of the typical adolescent, it is also a fair description of toddlers as well. Toddlerhood is the first major stage of childhood development when children are learning how to test their limits and stretch and grow as people by taking risks. As any parent knows, every toddler's favorite word is a decided 'no,' usually uttered in a very loud and declarative tone! Parents are often frustrated during this period of their child's development, as they strike a balance between encouraging the toddler's independence while still striving to educate the child in good manners, enabling the child to function in school -- and society.
It's Only Normal for Parents to Want to Throw Tantrums
Toddlerhood in some ways is harder on parents than on the young individuals themselves. It seems like only a few months ago that the parent had a quiet, snuggly baby who had just learned to sleep through the night and eat solid food. Now the toddler is intent upon terrorizing the home, tearing rooms filled with fragile furniture apart, putting dangerous objects in his or her mouth, and refusing to eat anything except their plastic toys and his or her older sister's mud pies!
It's tempting for parents to want yell and scream, just like toddlers themselves, in dealing with this sort of behavior. Toddlers are often aggressive and confrontational, and it is only natural for parents to want to respond in kind, no matter how much they may love their child. However, even when the child's behavior seems irrational, it is essential that parents use time-outs as teaching opportunities, not simply as a method of getting peace and quiet.
Research on disciplining children of this age group indicates that when children are physically punished without the parent giving an explanation as to why the behavior was wrong they become angry rather than reform their behavior. They actually become or grow more aggressive -- or withdrawn and sullen, depending on the child's personality orientation. Punishment without explanation reinforces the child's sense of powerlessness. One reason toddlers may like to say "no" is that they are frustrated by their inability to express themselves to the most powerful people in their lives -- mom and dad. Toddlers have many thoughts, feelings, and a great sense of curiosity about this very new world around them -- but a limited vocabulary! Toddlers are like recently arrived immigrants or tourists who do not speak the language to the country of childhood.
The Benefits of Daycare
To help socialize a toddler, daycare centers, especially those equipped with outdoor playgrounds can perform an important function in the history of the toddler's development and encourage the toddler to meet crucial developmental milestones, like sharing, sitting and eating a meal without getting up, and walking confidently without assistance. These arenas provide places where toddlers can run around, and explore their world without parents worrying about the toddlers spilling, breaking expensive objects, or putting something potentially hazardous in the toddler's mouth. Daycare is, if nothing else, an important 'time out' of toddlercare for mom and dad, and enables parents to return to their child refreshed after a break of 'grown-up' time together!
The toddler may return to mom and dad better behaved than before. As well as burning off energy during playtime, because of the presence of other toddlers, the toddlers in daycare centers must learn to take turns, share toys, and do things they may not be required to do at home, if they are only children, or the youngest or oldest child in the family. Of course, parents should observe the children's interaction at the center as well as the quality and competence of care. It is not enough that the facility and the staff are qualified. The child must have a rapport with his or her teachers, and the…