Some milestones, like walking, children tend to reach without much encouragement beyond seeing that that’s how the adults in their lives get around. Other skills, though, are a little harder to pin down the timing for, and that’s because they have a lot to do with environment. For example, toddlers who live in homes with more than one story tend to learn to climb stairs faster than tots who live in single-level homes.
Baby may have mastered the stairs by now, no matter what the floorplan of your home looks like, but there are plenty of other milestones that depend on their opportunity and interest as much as their development. They may pass certain milestones in their drawing or pre-writing skills sooner if they love to color, and spends lots of time doing it. And they're not going to start pedaling a tricycle if they're never seen one.
Some of this will be guided by Baby’s interests, and some of it may be related to where you live – city-dwelling tots may have fewer chances for rough-and-tumble outdoor climbing, for example. But giving them a lot of opportunity for free play both indoors and outdoors (assuming outdoor play is safe where you live, of course) along with a lot of unguided arts and crafts time is a great way to make sure Baby is getting all the opportunities for exploration they need.
Of course, a toddler’s life isn’t all fun and games – this is a great time to start having them help you out with small, age-appropriate tasks around your home. Small tasks like helping you pair socks while you fold laundry, sweeping with a child-sized broom, or using a pail of warm, soapy water to wipe baseboards while you clean the floor can introduce the idea of being partially responsible for keeping their home running smoothly – but they also give them self-confidence in their abilities and will make them proud to be able to help you out. They also give them the chance to use new physical skills and try new things – and when you look at it that way, chores can be pretty fun, so maybe it is all fun and games after all.
The kinds of tasks you can ask Baby to help you out with these days might not actually help in the sense that they make your life that much easier – or not yet, anyway. But they’re a starting place that lays the groundwork for more help in the future, and with a little creativity, you can come up with tasks that might start to take a little bit off your plate. Of course, different families follow different philosophies, and you might not be ready to assign little tasks like this, but there are plenty of other ways to start to teach toddlers about the basics of personal responsibility – the first and most important of which is just modeling.
The way you and your partner act informs the way Baby will grow up to feel that adults should act. This means that the way you and your partner work together to look after your home and family is making an impression on them even as you’re reading this.
Asks “what,” “why,” or “how,” questions: Not every toddler goes through a “why” phase, or the less catchy “how,” or “what’s that?” phase, but many tots Baby’s age do, and when they do, it’s part of a bigger phenomenon of their fascination with the world around them and the way they are starting to understand how some key parts of their world work. This shows them that the world is something that can be understood, though it all seemed mysterious in the past. This doesn’t mean you need to know the answer to every question they ask, though – and “I don’t know, let’s find out,” is always a good answer.
First “mural”: Baby’s artistic abilities are growing all the time, and it’s fairly common for these fast-growing skills to expand so fast they end up spilling off the page. When Baby draws or paints these days, they isn’t generally trying to paint a picture of something yet, they're just enjoying the process, and the process of painting on the wall can seem even more fun for being so new and different.
- Rebecca Parlakian and Claire Lerner. “From Baby to Big Kid: Month 30.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, May 16 2016. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1271-from-baby-to-big-kid-month-30
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