Children's needs and levels of understanding change as they grow, and what might be expected of a four-year-old can't be expected of a two-year-old.
- Exploring Young children find out about their world through touching, shaking, tasting, pouring, squeezing ... the list is endless! This isn't naughtiness, but a way of learning about their world. So make your home "toddler proof" by trying to store valuables and breakables away from your child so he can explore safely. The mess of life with a toddler can be exhausting, but think of all the learning he's doing!
- Independence Part of growing up for your toddler will be testing boundaries and becoming an individual. You can help him by letting him do as much for himself as possible-store toys at child height, let him choose his clothes, and give finger food.
- Encouragement Your child will learn what's OK to do from you, so give lots of attention and praise to good behavior-try "You're using your spoon really well!" instead of "Stop making such a mess!" If you only pay attention to your child when he misbehaves, he'll learn to misbehave to get your attention.
Talking and listening to your child helps him understand what's going on.
- Language Tell your child what you want him to do, instead of what you don't want him to do. Instead of "Don't make such a mess!" try "Clean up your toys, please."
- Respect Children learn from what you do and say. If you want your child to be polite and respectful, think about what to say and how you say it. Raising your voice will have him shouting back, and put-downs aren't good for anyone's self-confidence.
- Explaining If you have to say no to your child, give a good reason and offer an alternative. "Rose is playing with the toy now, but let's find you a new one."
- Listening Your child is trying out his new language and needs to be heard. Have a conversation with him-even if it feels a bit one-sided at times, he'll get a lot out of it and learn about talking to others. Try getting down to his level-he'll find it easier to talk (and listen) to you if you're not towering above him.
- Feelings Help your child's frustrations by trying to put his feelings into words-"You're really angry that you have to take a nap now, but when you wake up, we'll go to the park!"