It’s Toddlers on the Loose! The Challenging Transition from Baby to Toddler
April 15, 2010
by Morra Aarons Mele
The leap to toddlerhood is both thrilling and upsetting for a parent. Your baby clearly has a mind of his own: you can see the wheels turning in his head 24-7. Little babies are cute but their repertoire is limited. But for a toddler, each day brings something new to learn.
As a young parent working with Ellen Galinsky on Mind in the Making, I sometimes take the life skills to heart a little too much.
For instance, I breathlessly reported to Ellen that my 14 month old was clearly making connections: when he heard a phone ring, or even the sound of my text message chiming, he put his hand to his ear to mimic the phone. I was so proud of my clearly brilliant son and his ability to make rather abstract connections for one his age: connecting the bell of an incoming text message with talking on the phone. Literally the same day I bragged to Ellen, my husband called to tell me our son had an ear infection and that’s why he was touching his ear!! The mommy guilt I felt was astounding.
But mostly, using the skills in Mind in the Making gives me more joy and patience as a mom. It’s almost as if I have a new language with which to interpret my son’s needs.
Life for a toddler is clearly very challenging. My son faces many frustrations and he has no language to communicate them with. He wants to be independent; he needs mommy. We’ll be in the grocery store, and all of a sudden he’ll simply have to get out of the shopping cart to walk on his own. I’ll put him down to walk…but he won’t follow me. I get frustrated. He gets frustrated because often, torn between his desire to explore and be independent and his limitations as a new walker, he’ll just freeze in the middle of an aisle, close to a meltdown. My challenge as his parent is to interpret which challenge he can face alone, and when he needs to be picked up, hugged, and put back in the cart.
I’ll leave you with this video, of my son and his 18 month old cousin exploring the streets of New York. It’s a classic example of toddlers toying with newfound independence. Luckily, you can hear my husband in the background, keeping a watchful eye in case they stray too far.
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