April 13, 2017

A couple weeks ago, I got a random spam comment on an old post that I wrote, “Activities to Do with a Toddler.” After the initial disappointment of realizing it was not a real comment (yes, I like your comments!), I decided to look over that old post again from two years ago. First of all… TWO YEARS! I’VE BEEN BLOGGING FOR OVER TWO YEARS! I read somewhere that the average life of a blog is three years, and I think I jusssst passed that milestone… so here’s to another 3+ years for Cuppacocoa! 🙂

As I read it, I kept thinking, OOH, that’s a good idea, I should do that with my little boy! He’d love that! and Wow, what a great idea, so glad somebody compiled these to help pass the long afternoons. Heh heh.

In all seriousness, though, it was a reminder to pull out the old bean bin (which I had been hiding from him ever since he learned to grab things) and let him have a go at it. I was actually quite certain that he was not ready for such an activity. He is one, he still puts a lot of things in his mouth, and I just didn’t feel comfortable leaving him with the big bin of beans unsupervised. Did I really give my daughter full access to that stuff at the same age?!

According to my blog, I did. So the least I could do was let him have a shot at it.

I waited for a time when I could give him my full attention (i.e. his big sister was out of the house) and I took it out. Much to my surprise, he quickly caught on to the idea that all the beans needed to stay in the bin! Of course, some came flying out, but he soon learned to bend down and pick them up and put them back. I was impressed all over again.

There’s no way I would have taken them out if I hadn’t seen me do it for my first 1-year old. Hmm, I thought, there’s probably a bunch of stuff I’m forgetting to do for him that I did for her. Poor second child. I should go through my blog sometime and dig up those ideas that worked so well for her, and implement them for him!

So that’s just what I did. Here are my five posts that JoEllen of the past wrote for JoEllen of today, and I am high fiving old me (younger me?) for doing that. For some of them, I wasn’t sure if maybe I just got lucky the first time around (like “patient hands”). Would it really work again? Would it work with my boy? Would it work with my second child, when my attention was so divided these days (because older siblings sure know how to snatch up that attention!)? But I can say with more confidence that these are tried and true, at least two times through. Maybe you can try it, too!

1. Blanket Time

I was kind of dreading training him on this one. I just knew in my gut it wouldn’t go over well, at least in the beginning. And it didn’t, at first. The first time I did it, he cried and screamed and kept trying to crawl off. I thought, “What kind of person makes a toddler stay confined to a blanket?! So cruel!”

But I persisted, because I had memories of a content little girl playing happily on her blanket just a year before. I also remembered how his older sister developed the ability to focus on a single activity and experience a wonderful depth to her playing and learning that just isn’t possible when bumping around more quickly from toy to toy. I also remembered how helpful it was to me as a mommy!

The second day of blanket time, tears still sprang out of his eyes when he realized where I was putting him. The five minutes felt like ten as I endured his whining, and he zoomed off the blanket the moment my phone sounded. The third day, he whined a bit but decided to just play with the toys on the blanket. The fourth day, he settled down and played, and only looked up expectantly a couple times and the time seemed to pass quickly.

I still only use it for about 5-10 minutes at a time here and there for now, but he’s used to it and doesn’t mind it much anymore. His blanket time training hasn’t been nearly as consistent as it was for her, but it’s been good enough. I haven’t had occasion to use it out of the house yet, but it’s good to know I have this in my back pocket if needed!

2. Patient Hands

My little guy has taken to screaming for food when he’s hungry. We have got to nip this behavior in the bud! I thought last week, scanning my brain for ideas. What would I try to replace the screaming behavior with? I could only make him sign please so many times before he’d throw his hands up and start shrieking again. Then I remembered something I used to do with his big sister: patient hands. For some reason I didn’t think he’d be ready for this just yet- maybe because I didn’t start this with her until she was a bit older. But I was desperate, so I taught it to him, and it worked! It doesn’t last as long as I need it to, yet, but it’s a start.

He learned it so much more quickly than I expected, and I am grateful to old me for reminding present me to use this effective trick! He can’t count the numbers yet, but the act of holding his hands together requires enough concentration to snap him out of hangry mode most of the time, so it definitely helps!

3. Let Them Struggle

I didn’t need to be reminded of this one. It’s pretty embedded in me as a teacher-mommy. However, I think it’s so important it bears re-sharing! It came to mind when, last week, I was at a toddler gym class with my son. Something very similar to the story in the original post happened! He was trying to lower himself down from a trampoline, and his legs dangled two inches off the floor.

I watched halfway across the room as his little toes kept reaching for the ground and made a quick calculation that even if he dropped down and landed on his bottom, he’d be totally fine. His body would learn a thing or two about landing better, or hanging better by the arms, or something. It would not only be fine- it would probably be good for him.

I was pretty sure he’d just stretch his little arms out a bit more and his feet would soon find the ground. Unfortunately, I never got to see just how fine he would be, because two concerned moms were looking around for the mother of this struggling little boy and then one rushed in to rescue him from the struggle. She set him down on the ground before he even got a chance to show me his skillz. Bummer.

I think it’s okay, within reason, to let them struggle. Life is going to be full of increasingly difficult struggles, so let’s let them start with the ones that are two inches off the ground. It’s a great place to begin learning to persevere through struggles, experience failures and bounce back up again, and eventually overcome them!

4. The Five Love Languages for Children

This one is a good reminder for me as a mom for both of my kids. And as a wife of a wonderful husband. I just reread the post, and guess what? The things that originally surprised me when reading the book surprised me again!

For example, sandwiching discipline with love. I forgot about that. I think I do it much more than I used to, but I forgot about it as a rule of thumb, and I’m not doing it very consciously. I definitely could and should do it more. GREAT REMINDER. Glad I reread that!

I also COMPLETELY forgot about the anger management section, so I just studied that and am thinking about how to apply this to my older child. And myself. This one is definitely worth a read!

5. Activities to Do with a Toddler

The post that inspired this one! There are a bunch of things that I went through the trouble of setting up for my daughter when she was one that I just am not willing to clean up now that he’s one AND she’s three. Shaving cream? Are you kidding me? I clean up after the two of them enough, so I am NOT about to add that mess to the equation… or… well… I guess I did it for her, so I should do it for him…

OKAY FINE. And playdough. And I don’t think I’m ready to do finger paints with him just yet, but we did get some bath paints for Christmas that I hid away, so maybe when it’s hot enough, I’ll bust that out for bathtime. Maybe.

. . .

So there it is, five posts that I think could be very helpful if you’ve got a toddler in your house! Let me know if you’ve got more ideas to add to that list. We always appreciate something fresh and fun for life with our little ones!

2 responses to “Toddler Roundup”

  1. Angie says:

    Congrats on 2 years! I hope I make it to 2 years too. 🙂 I love reading your blog even though I don’t have a kid. After reading your blog, I feel like I’ll be ready for motherhood. Hehe!

    • joellen says:

      Thanks! Three years, now! =D

      Motherhood is someeeething else :). I hope you find this information helpful when that day comes!

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