Raising a baby, especially for the first time, is both exciting and challenging. This is a time for developing the bonds that will last a lifetime providing the child with the inner resources to develop self-esteem and the ability to relate positively with others. It is also the time for parents to begin to discover who this new person really is. Each child is unique and it is imperative that parents learn to understand, respect, support and encourage the unique characteristics and abilities of each child.
When a child takes the first step on his or her own, a new phase in development begins. At this stage children are now free to roam around their world. It is a time for active exploration of their environment. Language development takes major leaps which leads to learning the names of objects of interest, the ability to ask for things and as they discover their independent nature, yes, they develop the ability to say “NO!”
During this developmental stage, a major challenge is developing what psychologists call emotional regulation. “Meltdowns” are common during this period but parents can use the bond developed during infancy to help the child learn to modulate their emotional expression and begin to grasp the difficult concept of delay of gratification. While they instinctively seem to be able to say “NO” toddlers also need help in learning how to accept “No” from others.
This is also a stage of rapid physical and intellectual development preparing these children for starting school which includes interacting cooperatively with peers while at the same time being able to compete physically and intellectually. A child’s parent is in the position to be a coach providing just the right combination of encouragement, support and guidance. Parents also need to serve as primary teacher for the mastery of basic learning skills and encourage active discussion and experimentation of new concepts and skills.
What I’m Like: I can’t support my own head and I’m awake about one hour in every ten (though it may seem more).
What I Need: I need milk, a smoke-free environment, a warm place to sleep, hugs and kisses, and to hear your loving voice. It’s not too early to sing or read to me. The more you talk and introduce different things to me, the more I learn.
What I’m Like: My hands and feet fascinate me. I’ll laugh and coo at them and you. I’m alert for 15 minutes, maybe longer, at a time. I love to listen to you talk and read to me.
What I Need: Talk to me, feed me, and sing to me. My favorite songs are lullabies. Cuddle me. I need fresh air, a ride in a stroller. Give me things to pull and teethe on.
What I’m Like: I may be able to roll over and sit with support. I can hold my own toys. I babble and am alert for two hours at a time. I can eat most baby food. Put toys just out of my reach and I will try to reach them. I like to see what I look like and what I am doing.
What I Need: Make sure I’m safe as I’m learning to crawl. I need happy sounds, and I like to be near you. Dance with me, tickle me, and tell me about the world you see.
What I’m Like: I’m busy! I like to explore everything! I crawl, sit, pull on furniture, grasp objects, and understand simple commands. I like to be with other babies and I react to their happiness and sadness.
What I Need: I need locks on cabinets with medicines, household cleaners, or other dangerous things. Put away small sharp objects. I need touches, nutritious food, and educational toys to keep me busy.
What I’m Like: I like to eat with a spoon, even if I spill. And I will spill, spill, and spill. I will explore everything high and low, so please keep me safe. I may have temper tantrums because I have no other way of expressing my feelings or frustrations. Sometimes I’m fearful and cling to you. I like to have evening routines: music, story, and bath time. I like balls, blocks, pull toys, push toys, take apart toys, put together toys, and cuddles. Sometimes I say “No” and mean it. By eighteen months I can walk well by myself, although I fall a lot. I may jump. I say lots of words, especially the word “mine”—because everything is mine! I like it when we play outside or go to a park. I like being with other children. I try to take off my shoes and socks. I like to build with blocks.
What I Need: Let me touch things. Let me try new things with your help, if I need it. I need firm limits and consistency. Please give me praise. The more you talk with me, the earlier I will tell you how I feel and what I need. I need you to observe me and to understand why I’m upset or mad. I need your understanding and patience. I want a routine. I need you to not mind the mess I sometimes make. I need you to say I’m sorry if you made a mistake. And please read to me over and over again!
If I want it, it’s mine. If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine. If I take it away from you, it’s mine. If it’s mine it will never belong to anybody else, no matter what. If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine. If it looks just like mine, it’s mine.
During the next stage of life, your child is beginning to define himself. Look for child care activities that spur his imagination and vocabulary. During the toddler years, children get into everything, so do your best to ?
What I’m Like: I’m in an active stage, running, hopping, jumping, and climbing. I love to question “Why?” and “How?” I’m interested in numbers and the world around me. I enjoy playing with my friends. I like to be creative with my drawings, and I may like my pictures to be different from everyone else’s. I’m curious about “sleepovers” but am not sure if I’m ready yet. I may want to be just like my older sister or brother. I am proud that I am so BIG now!
What I Need: I need to explore, to try out, and to test limits. Giving me room to grow doesn’t mean letting me do everything. I need reasonable limits set for my own protection and for others. Let me know clearly what is or isn’t to be expected. I need to learn to give and take and play well with others. I need to be read to, talked to, and listened to. I need to be given choices and to learn things in my own way. Label objects and describe what’s happening to me so I can learn new words and things.
What I’m Like: I’m slowing a little in growth. I have good motor control, but my small muscles aren’t as developed as my large muscles for jumping. My activity level is high and my play has direction. I like writing my name, drawing pictures, making projects, and going to the library. I’m more interested now in doing group activities, sharing things and my feelings. I like quiet time away from the other kids from time to time. I may be anxious to begin kindergarten.
What I Need: I need the opportunity for plenty of active play. I need to do things for myself. I like to have choices in how I learn new things. But most of all, I need your love and assurance that I’m important. I need time, patience, understanding, and genuine attention. I am learning about who I am and how I fit in with others. I need to know how I am doing in a positive way. I understand more about things and how they work, so you can give me a more detailed answer. I have a big imagination and pretend a lot. Although I’m becoming taller, your lap is still one of my favorite places.