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Your toddler now
By now your child will begin to have particular ideas about what he wants to accomplish – such as pushing a toy lawn mower down a path. When you disrupt your 22-month-old's plans, he's apt to get upset. You'll see he's pleased when he's successful and frustrated when he's not. It's all part of his burgeoning independence.
Praising attempts, not just accomplishments, can help him learn to cope with disappointments. For example, if he's struggling and on the verge of tears, you might say, "I know it's hard to get that shoe on, and you're trying really hard." Or, "You look mad. Can I help you?" Mix challenging activities with those that boost your child's sense of pride, such as stacking chunky blocks or helping you water plants.
Try not to rush to your child's rescue if he's mildly frustrated. Jumping in to do it for him can foster dependence and diminish his confidence. Your challenge is to balance your natural desire to help and protect your child with his need to tackle new tasks.
I borrowed a tip from preschool teachers for showing my daughter how to put on her jacket: Lay it on the floor with the sleeves spread out and the body opened up a bit. Teach her to stand with her toes touching the tag at the neck, so the jacket looks upside down to her. Then she bends down and slips her arms into the sleeves. As she does this, she lifts the jacket over her head – and it's on!
A way around willfulness
Power struggles seem to lurk around every corner and over the simplest requests, thanks to your child's willpower and strong opinions. How can you avoid them – or at least make them more manageable?
Distraction is the key. Since your 22-month-old's attention span is probably only ten minutes or less, redirecting him or interjecting silliness into a standoff can make him forget his intractable ideas and move along to something else with minimal fireworks. Sometimes picking up your child and moving to another room – especially outdoors – will turn him around.
An especially stubborn toddler might go along with the distraction but then remember the original issue and pick up right where he left off. Even so, the ploy can buy you time to calm yourself and think about how to handle the situation.
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