This great infographic on your child’s social, physical, cognitive, and language development was put together by Rasmussen College. It was created “from a deep desire to advocate for young children, families, and early childhood professionals” with the goal to help parents “understand children’s development and apply that understanding to provide excellent education and care.”
Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Dr. Steve Pastyrnak, Division Chief, Pediatric Psychology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI. He shares techniques for different age groups on how to keep a child’s temper in check during rising summer temperatures.
Toddler and Preschoolers
When the heat is high, frustration and anger tend to boil over for kids of any age. For toddlers and preschoolers, who are learning how to express themselves, tantrums and angry outbursts are very normal. Since parents will have a hard time reasoning with little ones, modeling and distraction techniques can help deal with grumpy behavior. But a little patience and a good sense of humor is always a parent’s best bet.
A modeling technique involves parents remaining calm and cool, no matter how frustrating the kids are in the moment. Tots will take cues from those around them and will calm down more quickly when being spoken to in a quiet and reassuring tone of voice. Distraction involves using an activity or toy to redirect the child’s attention and disconnect frustration from crying, yelling, and screaming. But it’s important to distract before the frustration gets out of control or when kids start calming down. Otherwise, toddlers may connect anger and tantrums with getting a toy. Parents should keep a handy tool box of really cool (and inexpensive) items such as playdough, bubbles, crayons, etc.
If your kids are in a full-blown tantrum, however, the only solution is to remove them from the situation. Move them to another place or keep them on your lap. Let anger run its course.
Help kids handle physical stress and negative thoughts by teaching simple breathing and muscle relaxation techniques. Breathe slowly in through the nose (like smelling a flower) and the slowly out through the mouth (like blowing out a candle). The slower the better. Then have kids squeeze specific muscle groups (arms, stomachs, or even their faces) and hold the tension for a few seconds before relaxing. This technique will release some physical energy while also teaching the bodies how to relax.
Parents can also consider saying positive reinforcements (“Good job,” “You are so strong, brave, awesome, etc.”) for any situation that the child handles on her own. While verbal praises address behaviors well, teach kids another way to banish negative thoughts by using, what I call, the “Jedi” mind trick. Have kids recite simple positive thoughts to themselves, such as “I can do this,” “I’m okay,” and “No big deal.” The more kids practice saying these positive phrases, the more likely that they will change negative thoughts into positive ones.
ABCNews.com recently wrote about a new trend in ”toddler” apps, educational apps targeted to kids between 4 months to 3 year old, to help them learn earlier and faster. One mom’s son started playing with an iPad at 9 months old, and now 5 months later, he recognizes letters and uses 75 apps. Plus, since more toddlers are learning how to handle an iPhone and iPad, even Toys “R” Us is selling iPads and a kindergarten class in Maine will be getting their own iPads when school starts again.
After an elderly woman sued two bicycle-riding toddlers for crashing into her on a New York City sidewalk, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled that toddlers can be sued for negligence.
Even though the toddlers’ parents argued their kids were too young to be held accountable for negligence, the judge maintained their age (4-years-old) was enough to prove they were mentally developed and mature. The judge also dismissed adult supervision as a weak reason against negligence: “A parent’s presence alone does not give a reasonable child carte blanche to engage in risky behavior such as running across a street.” (NYTimes.com)
After reading the full story at NYTimes.com, take our poll and share your opinion in the Comments section below.
Recent research from toddler specialist Dr. Frans Plooij, author of “The Wonder Weeks,” reveals that aggression, manipulation, yelling, disruptive behavior, and a propensity to say “NO!” may actually start right after a toddler turns one. A baby’s brain rapidly increases in mental capacity after 15 months, thus leaving babyhood behind and entering toddlerhood. According to Dr. Plooij, a child starts learning “how to assert himself and separate himself from everyone around him. For the first time, a child understands he is a different person than mommy and his family is a different family than another family…At this age in development, the now-toddler has figured out how to push the right buttons until he gets what he wants” (SFGate.com).
Coining the term “teenaging toddler,” Dr. Plooij sees the early development of the “terrible twos” as a positive—it’s a prime time for parents to teach their kids certain goals, morals, values, and socialization skills. Good life lessons will lay the groundwork for well-adjusted kids as they grow up and eventually become teens and adults.
See more Parents.com resources on the “terrible twos”: