From Active to Overwhelmed

Numerous activities are targeted to toddlers these days. While these programs are important, parents must be careful to avoid overscheduling.

There are staggering numbers of structured activities available for toddlers and parents to share these days-everything from movement classes to music appreciation and swimming lessons. Enrolling your child in such a program certainly may have benefits, but experts warn against "overbooking" a toddler.

Limit peer-group activities (including playgroups) to two or three per week for kids of this age. If your child goes to daycare, the need for arranging get-togethers obviously isn't as great since he's already spending a lot of time with children his own age.

You'll probably know it if your child is feeling overwhelmed by the amount of social interaction he's exposed to. Telltale signs include crying, clinging, and wanting to leave an activity or playdate. Pare down his schedule until your child seems to feel more secure.

Parents often may have to decide whether or not to launch their toddler into an early "school" type of experience. You might register your child for a once- or twice-weekly session if she shows these indications that she's ready to participate: She doesn't seem to mind being away from you for short periods of time; she shows interest in being with other children and playing with them; she's fairly well potty trained and has relatively few accidents (a prerequisite for some programs).

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