With all these changes, there are a lot of things we started to work on with our now–two–year–old. As he’s grown and changed and obviously become more independent, we’ve had to change the way we are doing things in order to keep up with him! We are trying to reinforce and encourage these independent behaviors and help provide him with the building blocks for a successful life, which is essentially what we are all doing, as parents; trying to parent and teach our little ones so they can become amazing, successful human beings later in life.
Right now my son is like a sponge, and he absorbs everything! This a good thing, and a bad thing. Mostly a good thing, because right now he is learning everything and anything, so fast. Three days ago he was singing “ABCs” and “Twinkle Twinkle”, and now he’s singing along with every “Super Simple Song” that comes on! It’s amazing, and he follows along like a champ. It’s hard for me to believe he’s just turned two! So as our little one becomes not-so-little anymore, there are some major things we are working on, some on a daily basis, and others not so much, (cause there’s only so many hours in a day and only so much coffee you can drink.) These are some of the things we are working on with our toddler and having some huge success!
As our son turned two and really started to understand what we were actually saying, apart from the most commonly used phrases and words, we realized that some of the things we were saying, (apart from the obvious curse words and vulgar things,) were things that would come back to bite us in the ass sooner or later, (or perhaps, not so much later,) so we had to make some changes…
↪ Asking him to, “Put it back,” instead of telling him, “Don’t touch.”
“Don’t touch,” is a commonly used phrase in our household, much like every other toddler infeste- I mean, inhabited household… As such, it has long since lost its meaning and has little to no effect. Toddlers LOVE getting into everything. It’s inevitable. They’re curious and want to explore, and to an extent should be allowed and encouraged to explore and learn. I struggle with this immensely, because I get so upset when he doesn’t listen to me. Instead of losing my patience, (which I do A LOT,) and shouting at him to not touch something, we’ve taken to asking him to put things back instead. And the change has been AMAZING! Instead of staring at us while we tell him to not touch something and touching it over and over while he continues to defy us (and laugh about it), he actually goes and puts whatever he has back where he got it from!
I learned early on that approach means everything at this age, (and the next age, and the next age.) My son and I used to “fight” constantly about boundaries and what not to touch. I would tell him not to touch something, he would continue to touch it, I would redirect, he would go back and touch it again. Wash, rinse, repeat until I lose my shit and suddenly I was yelling at my 18 month old son about things he just didn’t understand. It became apparent that my son would literally not listen to me unless I asked him nicely. Trust me, I tested it, because it drove me nuts! I would raise my voice and tell him not to touch something, and he wouldn’t listen, ignore me even. Instead of losing my patience, I would lower my voice and quietly ask him to put it back, please. And it was the most amazing thing… He actually listened and put it back and I realized that approach is everything!
↪ Saying, “It’s not a toy,” instead of, “Yucky!”
Again, with the getting into everything! Lately my son has become increasingly fascinated with things like the garbage can, the toilet, the toilet brush, putting his toothbrush down the drain, the garbage, PUTTING HIS TOOTHBRUSH IN THE TOILET, etc… DID I MENTION THE GARBAGE?
We used to tell him that these things were yucky. We used it a lot when we didn‘t want him to touch things, like the garbage can or the toilet. We would yell, “NO, yucky! DON’T TOUCH!” We realized that sometime relatively soon, we would actually like him to touch the toilet and the garbage can, to go potty or to throw away garbage. We imagined it was going to be very confusing and difficult to do something like potty training when we’ve spent the last two years telling him not to touch the toilet because it’s yucky! So we recently started telling him that these things aren’t toys, and again, the change has been miraculous. He actually started to leave the toilet alone and sometimes will take things that he knows are garbage and put them in the garbage can. Which is the most adorable thing ever and it makes us so proud!
↪ Asking him to, “Hold on. Wait,” instead of telling him flat-out, “No!”
We all know toddlers are impatient. It’s a hard and fast rule; they want it and they want it NOW! My son is no exception to this rule. Needless to say, it was getting all over our nerves! Yelling at him when he lost his patience was far from helping the situation in the middle of a temper tantrum. It wasn’t going to make him be more patient and he would only end up crying because he just didn’t understand, which just makes me feel worse. Instead we started asking him to wait. “Wait, hold on. Be patient. Mommy’s working on it.”
Of course it’s not magical, and there are plenty of temper tantrums that come from mommy and daddy not getting that cup or cookie to him in 5 nanoseconds, but there is definitely a noticeable change. When we ask him to wait, he definitely takes a total of 2 extra nanoseconds before he freaks out and starts crying uncontrollably! Baby steps… baby steps.
When our boy was a baby, we focused a lot on routines to get us ready for bedtime and a night full of restful, peaceful, not-waking-up–every–hour sleep; dinner, bath, book and then bedtime. Anyone will tell you, over and over again that you need to make a routine for your baby for bedtime, and stick to it. They’ll tell that it’s the only way you’ll get your child to sleep through the night! And we did, and we still focus on and stick to these routines, but it’s become apparent to us that routines are strictly important in all aspects, not just at night or bedtime. What about mornings? Morning routines are just as important, if not more so than evening routines. We’ve started working on getting up and starting the day off on the right foot by doing these self-care routines and encouraging them most of the time on a daily basis… Most of the time. Come on, I’m only a mom.
↪ Brushing teeth and spitting in the sink…
My son has been ridiculously interested in brushing his teeth since he was about 10 months old, before he could walk, before he could even STAND!
Being primarily a single mom for the better part of the first two years of my son’s life, I spent most of my morning routine getting ready with my son either right in the room with me or very close by. He took to brushing his teeth very early and actually did an amazing job. It’s been a daily occurrence ever since, one that he actually looks forward to and insists upon daily! To the point where you will often hear me screaming, “You’ve already brushed your teeth 3 times today!!! You’ll brush the enamel right off your teeth!” To which my toddler cries and throws a temper tantrum because I literally won’t let him brush his teeth anymore, today.
Lately, what with all the absorption of information and all his sponginess, my son started pretending to spit in the sink while brushing his teeth. And someday very soon we definitely want and need him to be able to do this, so we started encouraging him to spit in the sink. We’ve only had some minor setbacks, such as him trying to spit at us or spitting when he’s not brushing his teeth, but someday it’ll prove useful!
↪ Brushing and combing hair…
Same as with brushing his teeth, my son started showing interest in brushing and combing his hair right away, before he could even walk. Lately we’ve started reinforcing this routine by getting up and going to the bathroom, and while he brushes his teeth we wet down his bedhead hair, (cause what toddler doesn’t have outrageous bedhead,) and comb his hair. Most of the time he won’t let me do it for him anymore and ends up ruining any progress I’ve made in making him look presentable, but the repetition is what counts. The morning routine and consistent pattern is what’s really going to count in the long run. Whether or not his hair looks good for daycare doesn’t matter. They just laugh, anyways. Him waking up and running to the bathroom in the morning to get himself ready for the day, 100% excited about it, that’s what matters!
↪ Picking out clothes and standing up to get dressed…
As with any toddler, when he was a baby we used to get him dressed every morning, wake him up and change his diaper, lay out his clothes and get him ready for the day. Up until recently we did this all the time with him lying down! These days we are meeting a lot of protest when getting him dressed. He wants to do everything himself. We are quickly approaching the days where he insists upon picking out his own clothes and I honestly thought I had more time before we had meltdowns because Mommy picked out the wrong socks or shirt for the day. Now when I open the drawer to pick out clothes for the day, my son pushes my hands away and forces his way through, reaching in and picking out his own shirt and shorts for the day.
The hardest part of this is breaking my routine! It’s so hard for me to break out of the habit of laying him down to get him dressed or change his diaper and doing everything for him! Sometimes I worry that I am the one holding him back because he’s just growing up way too fast and I want him to stay little forever. But the bigger part of me knows that I need to help him become this little independent human being and it’s my job to give him those tools and encourage him to brush his own hair and put on his own clothes. And he tries, so hard! He’s ready but he’s just not physically there yet.
↪ Wiping face and washing hands…
We all know how important it is to keep your hands clean. But MAN, is it hard to keep little fingers and hands and faces clean! We’ve always been good about keeping him clean, because I’m just that way. I don’t like dirty hands or faces or sticky fingers. So I’ve always made a habit of taking him to the sink to wash hands or used wipes at the table after meal times. A couple of months ago when we would leave his old daycare, my son would run for the bathroom before we left and climb up on the stool by the sink and insist upon washing his hands. And I am not joking about the insisting part! We couldn’t leave until he had washed his hands and dried them with a paper towel. He even went and threw away the paper towel in the garbage can. Now we are working on letting him wash his own hands and face after meals, letting him use a wipe and telling him to wipe his face. And he does, and it is just the cutest thing. He also started trying to wipe the table after he was done, too. It’s just so amazing to see what he sees us doing and how he replicates it and wants to do it for himself.
↪ Throwing away garbage and cleaning up messes…
My son has been throwing away garbage for a couple of months now, since he started insisting on washing his hands. Nowadays we are really working on cleaning up messes, more than ever before. Especially when unnecessary, purposeful messes are made. Ugh, I sound like such a stick in the mud.
These days my son is really into whipping his cup at the floor or toppling toy bins when he doesn’t get his way, making huge messes in the midst of a temper tantrum. After we calm him down, we ask him to help us clean up the mess. Egad! I know, I’m such a mean mom. The part that amazes me is when he actually does it! He has started saying, “Help, help.” He even will take the paper towel from me and wipe the floor. He then walks over to the trash can and throws it away.
I am just so proud of all of the things he is accomplishing and learning, and it’s intoxicating and exciting, because it makes me want to help him learn so much more! Nothing in this whole world has made me feel so much pride like my little baby learning something new and seeing just how smart he is becoming. Not only that, but it makes me feel like I am actually doing a good job and nailing this whole “mom thing”, just a little bit. It helps counteract all that mom worry because he’s actually learning and doing all of these amazing things. And if he’s doing all of that at only 2 years old, I can’t even imagine what else he will accomplish and be capable of by this time two years from now.
I’m sure there’s a million other little things I missed, because there’s just SO MUCH, but really we are just working on major stepping stones toward greater things and learning all the small stuff that will turn into huge leaps and bounds and essential building blocks when he’s older. What sort of things are you working on with your toddler(s)? What kind of success are you having? When did you start working on these things? I’d love to hear about them, and I know my audience would love it, as well! Share below in the comments! If you’re a new parent to Twitter, I have a great blog post about Tips and Tricks for Parents to gain followers! Check it out here! As always, keep on loving those little ones like only you know how. Have a great weekend mommies and daddies.