What do I do with this toddler?
December 31, 2012 5:38 AM   Subscribe

Parenting a toddler: what should I know? What are your tips?

Lil Bit is a year old now. I've come to realize I'm probably not at all prepared for what's ahead. What should we be doing together? What should he be doing alone? What should I be teaching him? How do you structure your days with a toddler?

On the average day, he gets breakfast, nap, snack, lunch, nap, snack, dinner, bedtime. He nurses quite a bit in between there. A lot of his playtime is spent with his favorite toys of the moment: a large sensory/soft book, the electronic activity panel from his walker, and a toy piano. He loves to climb the stairs, and walking is still a no-go.

I feel like by the middle/end of the day, he's so bored from the same-old, but I have no idea what else to do together. It's too cold to go to the park, and he can't do anything there besides swing anyway, and he only likes the swing for short periods of time. We go to playgroups and meetups occasionally, but they aren't regular enough to be routine. Our library has Toddler Time, but it goes on and off the schedule for weeks at a time. We have a Gymboree very close by, but I'm paranoid about the germiness.

Besides activities, I'm just not sure what to do with him to help him learn and advance. I hear about kids his age already being able to respond to questions like "what does a dog say?" and I feel like a horrible parent that he can't even say "mama" on command. How do I teach this kid? What should I be teaching him?
posted by litnerd to Human Relations (36 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
First of all, you're not a terrible parent because he doesn't say "mama" on command! My daughter is 14 months and though she says quite a few words now, "mama" is still not one of them.

I don't have a lot of advice, but I would say that you shouldn't avoid places like Gymboree because of the germiness. In a way it's a good thing to expose your little one to germs. Yes, it's frustrating when they get colds...but it's good for their immune systems. My daughter is in daycare and while I don't like the numerous illnesses she's had for the past few months, I know that she's building up immunities and won't get sick so often once she starts school. Babies and toddlers are pretty resilient.

Indoor playgrounds are always a good idea, as well as kids' museums or science centres. Going for walks in the stroller is good for both of you - you get some exercise, the little guy gets to see different things. And I'm not sure where you live, but playing in the cold and snow is fine as long as he's dressed appropriately for it.

Anyway, it sounds like you're doing pretty great so far. I'll be watching this thread for suggestions from others.
posted by barnoley at 5:57 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

First of all, RELAX. The fact that you're even thinking about these things to this level shows that you're a concerned and thoughtful and awesome mom. Stop with the horrible parent stuff right this moment!

At that age, there's not much to do, and the things you're doing are all great. It's all about sensory exploration at this stage, so just continue to do more of what you're doing - surround him with safe things that he loves, and let him wear himself out exploring them. It's all good.

And I agree with barnoley about the germiness thing - you don't have to go to the mall or the bouncy pit every day, but once or twice a week is fine, and it does give his immune system a chance to start catching up to the rest of the world.

Bottom line, just relax and enjoy this time, because it is very brief and very, very much fun.
posted by jbickers at 6:04 AM on December 31, 2012 [5 favorites]

You say you're already reading to him, but maybe add more/different types of books? With my daughter (now 8) I read to her constantly from a variety of bright and colorful picture books. I also started teaching her the alphabet sounds really early and she responded to it quite well. Her favorite book was Alison Jay's ABC which has great pictures and is fun for grownups (each page has tons of background items starting with the letter, and there is a hidden/implied story). She also has a good 123 book.

And walks, as the person above said. Make sure he's nice and warm since it's kind of hard to tell when he's in front of you in a stroller.

Most of all treasure the time. If you end up with a second kid it'll be great but nothing feels the same as the first one, if only because your attention will be divided.
posted by freecellwizard at 6:06 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

We have a Gymboree very close by, but I'm paranoid about the germiness.

Get over that, is one piece of advice. Regular exercise and regular healthy snacks have been the determining difference between "happy, cooperative kids" and "screaming three-mile-island public-meltdown fuckshow", in my parenting life. My current working theory is that if you want a happy kid, you put healthy food into them and then you run them into the ground.

I hear about kids his age already being able to respond to questions like "what does a dog say?" and I feel like a horrible parent that he can't even say "mama" on command. How do I teach this kid?

Yeah, don't start benchmarking your kids against other people's kids. It doesn't help anyone, all you end up doing is feeling either unjustifiably smug or just as unjustifiably disappointed. Different kids grow in different ways, at different rates, at different times. It's

Engage your kid! Take them to whatever galleries or museums are around, talk to them a lot, read to them. Sit on the ground with them and help them blocks and scribble with crayons. Talk your way through the stuff you're doing, the cooking, cleaning or reading, and you'll be amazed how much they soak up just from that. But provided they're eating and learning and growing, at this point I strongly suspect that the relationship you're cultivating with your child is way more important than any arbitrary developmental benchmark.
posted by mhoye at 6:12 AM on December 31, 2012 [9 favorites]

The best thing you can do is to talk to him like to a tiny tiny grown-up. That is, easy and straightforward language and no convoluted stuff, but no baby daa daa dim talk. Explain stuff, point at stuff, talk about it, talk about what you're going to do next etc. etc.. The reward: your next year together will be an explosion of verbal interaction. From there on your li'l guy will pretty much teach you what to teach him.

Read picture books together. Sing songs together. Sit down and do Duplo dinosaurs together. Get Peter and the Wolf and be scared together. Etc.

In more general terms of how-to-proceed-with-kids, I've always been inspired by the writings of Jean Liedloff. Even if you don't subscribe to everything said there, it gives you a lot to think about, and especially, an intelligent set of tools for no-nonsense daily parenting.

The rest is middle-of-the-road developmental psychology really. You want to be prepared when the "no" phase kicks in and how to react, and so on. I'd just go read a few books...

["Mama" as a requested item is for family get-togethers to soothe the aunts and uncles. He'll call you whatever he will call you, whenever he's ready. How about your first name? That's what mine use.]
posted by Namlit at 6:15 AM on December 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

The best thing you can do is to talk to him like to a tiny tiny grown-up.

This. On the drive to daycare a week ago, I was explaining humidity and dew points to my 2.5 year old because the car was wet and he thought it had rained. He eats this stuff up, even if he doesn't fully understand it. The world is a fascinating place, and kids know it!
posted by bfranklin at 6:23 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like more than individual bits of advice, you might like to have a broader overview of toddler development, a toddler development primer.

You could also get some simple instruments (or pots and wooden spoons) and art supplies and add messy and basic music and art to your days; you can also play with goop. Get lentils or rice and do digging and pouring on your kitchen counter. Also, my go-to activity for all kids is "stand on a chair, float and pour things in the kitchen sink." All of these are sensory and skill-building activities; there are loads online.

Caveat: I do not actually have a toddler, so it's pretty easy to put together a one-off fun filled day of activities for random children in my life. I have no idea how super-parents do it day in and day out. It's fun but exhausting.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:30 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Winter does suck. Any childrens museums or place you can take him where he can socialize with other babies? I totally get the germiness but after a year and unless there is an underlying medical cause, I wouldn't sweat it too much. I think they would love the socialization. Our son blossomed after 15 months and being in daycare. Before that, as an only child, he rarely saw anyone but after a year, we started to take him to the children's museaum and he loved it.

Also, we bought this and he loved it too: http://www.step2.com/product.cfm?product_id=1499

Not sure if you have room in yoru place but it really saved us during the winter. I got mine from Walmart and had it delivered to the house for free. Easy. All of the Step2 products are really easy to put together and good for the price (he also loves the kitchen set they had).
posted by stormpooper at 7:05 AM on December 31, 2012

I have a two-year-old, and I have found tons of original and fun indoor activities for toddlers on Pinterest (which I didn't expect). I never would have thought of most of them!
posted by trillian at 7:07 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stuff you should do with him now: just about anything at all you want to do

...because then it will be normal to go and sit through lunch with Mummy's friend and normal to spend some hours going around a museum or gallery and you will have a fairly compliant little partner in crime for activities you actually enjoy.

Being dragged out into the adult world is educational and usually so interesting that they'll just sit back and happily sponge it up instead of getting distracted by fusses. If you have a car experiment with the park-n-ride thing if that's an option and spend part of your trip on the bus because a city bus ride is a big thrill for a toddler. (A carrier is far, far easier than a stroller, I found.) But, anyway, now is your window in which to normalise anything. Going swimming. Spending two hours in a used bookstore. Anything. It's all good for him, and it beats introducing it at three or four and getting "No" when faced with getting a swimsuit on and getting into a big weird wet thing. "It's never too early for anything" are good words to live by.

(At 1 my daughter could say "hat," and that was it. But by 15mo it was at fifty words and then so many I lost count... No "mama" at 1 is nothing to worry about. Later you'll be amazed at what was percolating away in there)
posted by kmennie at 7:11 AM on December 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thanks for all the suggestions (and comforting comments) so far! Just wanted to add that I do wear him very frequently, so we don't use the stroller much but I do need to bump it up on the walks.
posted by litnerd at 7:11 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

He's probably fine - he probably sees new things every day, even if they don't seem very exciting to you- but I wonder if you're the one who's feeling a bit bored? Are you able to schedule some time to do something that interests you? Just a thought.
posted by KateViolet at 7:13 AM on December 31, 2012

Great suggestions above, but I wanted to add that for me, baby life got really really challenging right before mine walked, and then eased up as soon as he was on two legs. He was so frustrated and bored and then crossed over to walking and things got so much better.

During that period, it was fun to take him places where he could cruise... bookstores with shelves, toy stores, etc. Sometimes you can make bath longer/more fun. We also introduced sign language and that really helped with communication.
posted by xo at 7:16 AM on December 31, 2012

Definitely sing and dance and play music of all types for him -- not just "kid songs." One of the most valuable things I remember most vividly from my early childhood is all the music my older sisters and mom were interested in. It's good for the brain and physical development and just a huge part of being human.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:18 AM on December 31, 2012

E.g.: the dancing twins were anything but bored!
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:20 AM on December 31, 2012

The best thing you can do is to talk to him like to a tiny tiny grown-up. That is, easy and straightforward language and no convoluted stuff, but no baby daa daa dim talk. Explain stuff, point at stuff, talk about it, talk about what you're going to do next etc. etc.. The reward: your next year together will be an explosion of verbal interaction.

I do not agree with this. Baby talk is good for little kids; it helps then understand inflection. Harvey Karp, the Happiest Baby on the Block guy, advocates talking like a caveman. (Typically developing two-year-olds explode with language anyway.) I mean, I do a lot of adult narration to my kid, but that's because I'm bored. It doesn't hurt, but it's not a great way to communicate.

Go to Gymboree. I know about the Germboree thing, but it's fun and good for your kid to see other kids. We are also doing Music Together and a Rec Center program. And a regular playgroup. Not only does toddler litnerd need to see another kid here and there, you need to find mom friends with toddlers too. Those programs are a good way to develop a mom network.

If there are local children's museums/aquariums/nature museums, this is a good time to start going. Now he'll just look around (especially at animals), but pretty soon he'll be able to wander. It sounds like you need Places to Go. My best mom friend and I agree that if you and your kid are in a funk, schedule something to do out of the house every day. (Twenty minutes of swinging and looking at dogs at the park is doing something! I went through a few weeks where we went to every park in my town.) I know it's cold, but bundle up and venture out.

This is a challenging age! I'm about two months ahead of you, and I remember, oh I do. These last two months have been great, though. So. Much. Development! At the same time, they're still ... basically babies, so a lot of toddler stuff doesn't apply.

Feel free to MeMail me. Our kids are pretty close in age.
posted by purpleclover at 7:27 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lots and lots of books. Mommy and Me physical activities (gymnastics, etc.). Mommy and Me music classes.
posted by Dansaman at 7:43 AM on December 31, 2012

All good things, especially museums - but I would add: It's not too cold to go to the park. Nothing wears them out like fresh air. Yes, swinging is boring for adults, but kids love it so much. Bundle up and get out as often as possible. It's good for your sanity too (says the person in Toronto who hates cold and snow, but felt like a moth fluttering against a window the winter her daughter was one...) and it's good for them to acclimatize to all weather. Get the best outside gear you can for you both, and brave it. I know that a lot depends on the kid's personality, but I supervise kindergarteners that happily play during recess all winter long, while others huddle against my legs and beg to be allowed to stay inside.

I'd also suggest getting a play table (if you want to promote standing) along the lines of this or this (or just use a dish tub -- or kiddie pool if you have room), and use it for a sensory table. One is a little young, but it can be used for years, and filling it with balls or rice or pasta or salt and hiding toys in it will kill a lot of time. Kids can play in a little water or with just suds happily for a long time (supervised at that age, of course.) Here's a post about about a home-made one that might be something to try first.
posted by peagood at 8:05 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've known a lot of babies that age. He's fine. It seems a little too easy now, doesn't it? Take advantage of that.

What do you like to do? What hobbies have you been putting off? This is a great time to start to do more for yourself, especially in terms of your socializing. He'll imitate whatever you do. I think a toddler-centric life is pretty boring for everyone, honestly.

Anyway, if you want to talk about guilt, my kid will say "mama" but he immediately pairs it with "bye bye"! He does refer to his father and I both as "dada" though, so all is not lost. (He's 15 months).
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:09 AM on December 31, 2012

And museums and such are fine, if you like museums. A one-year-old is just not going to absorb a whole lot besides "huh, new stuff, cool". You could take him to a yarn store, or the grocery store, or a basketball game, or church, or the mall, and it would be the same for him.

So take him where you like to go. Our little guy goes to a lot of church events, the coffee shop, and kid-friendly restaurants, because that's what we enjoy. He gets to observe a lot of social interaction and he gets croissants, his Favorite Food OMG. Win/win.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:14 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing all the "don't worry" advice. Nothing prepares you for having a baby, or a toddler, or a teenager, or any other stage in development. Not even actually having had a baby, or a toddler, or a teenager, etc., prepares you for the second one. I have a cousin who's had eight kids and is expecting a ninth. She thinks she might be good at it... after this one.
posted by Etrigan at 8:28 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, yes, the young rope-rider has good advice. We go to aquariums and nature museums because I love aquariums and nature. If fish aren't your thing, bring a friend along to chat with and call it a social outing. I've been able to hang out a lot more recently.

At the same time, at 14 months I am not really able to meet a friend for lunch. My kid can't sit and be happy for even half an hour. (We do go out for meals quite a lot with both parents+friends, but I can't keep up meaningful conversation with a pal and keep my kid happy for long enough for a full meal.) Coffee and a walk? Yes, definitely.

And, just to continue the kids are all different theme, there is no way we could have gone to a bookstore at 12 months without my son making it his life's mission to clear the shelves of every book, so, truly, YMMV.
posted by purpleclover at 8:32 AM on December 31, 2012

when my daughter turned two i enrolled her in a pre- preschool class at the local park district. it only met for two or three hours once a week but it was a great way to begin to expose her to what was to come. it proved to be very valuable as my 2 year old was not talking yet (despite being pretty normal in other areas). the teachers there were concerned and directed me to other community resources which allowed my daughter to thrive.
posted by lester at 8:36 AM on December 31, 2012

> We go to playgroups and meetups occasionally, but they aren't regular enough to be routine

So organize one closer to you for it to be weekly, if not more frequently. I don't know how parents of little kids survive without regular playgroups -- they were the only thing that stopped me from eating my children when they were toddlers. I was in a few of them, as we changed neighborhoods, and while some I just barely enjoyed, others were great. (In fact, I'll be meeting a friend for coffee later today -- without our kids -- and we became friends through a playgroup.) Your kid will have a chance to make friends, and you'll have other adults to talk to.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:32 AM on December 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh, also: co-op preschool. Is there a good one near you that takes one-year-olds? Everyone benefits from co-op preschool; the kids have fun and a bit of education, the parents meet other people in the community and have a place to learn new parenting skills.

I was lucky in that I found a great one; not all co-ops are wonderful, so shop around.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:34 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just want to nth the suggestion to add swimming. The difference in water-confidence between kids who start as babies and kids who start even a few years later is hard to overestate. Plus it's inside, which is good for winter! I honestly think a baby swim class is one of the best things you can do for your kid.
posted by dame at 10:14 AM on December 31, 2012

There are some great suggestions here and I would emphasize the relax part. He'll be fine simply because you are an involved parent and you're interested in his life. I would also like to reiterate the part that says to get over the germs. Germs I think are really important to the little guys - they will build up an immunity. Let me tell you once he's in school, no matter what the age, they bring home all sorts of germy goodies. It's part of being a parent. You want him to be exposed to all sorts of interesting things and Gymboree has lots of ways for them to burn off energy and let loose with their little bodies. With my kids, I also had a baby bathtub that I filled up with rice and let them mess around with that. Or make playdough -every kid loves that even at that age. Messy stuff is awesome at this age. Go outside - even when its cold. Kids should be outdoors. I do admit to when desperate I took them to Petsmart to look at the poor little guinea pigs and lizards.
posted by lasamana at 11:59 AM on December 31, 2012

My toddler is in daycare, and they do circle time for songs and reading books, it really seems to help with learning. The songs are the usual abc, row your boat, etc, but the teachers also come up with songs to teach the kids their first & last names (something that I don't think I would have ever thought to teach if it's weren't for daycare). They do rotating "programs" where they focus on weather, animals, Dr. Seuss books, holidays, really whatever you can make into a theme for a week. They also have arts & crafts time every day and do sensory table stuff. When I'm home all day with my toddler I'll put on a kids music cd and dance around to it with him for a while.

Totally n'thing to not be afraid of the Gymboree germs. We've been taking our little dude to a Mall Tots play area in the winter since he was really wee, it really helps to tire them out, and the germs, well, if he's not exposed to them now he will be at some point in his life. Plus, they usually have tons of hand sanitizer dotting the landscape at those places.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 12:57 PM on December 31, 2012

Agreed that it probably isn't too cold. All you need is lots of layers. You can get long underwear, leggings, snow suits, etc., etc., in baby sizes. Our kid likes to be outdoors a lot regardless of weather.
posted by bfields at 3:39 PM on December 31, 2012

I couldn't tell from your question if you already do this, but taking him to the library regularly is awesome, even if they only have Toddler Time sometimes. Just being able to get a big new stack of books and see a new environment is pretty awesome. Also, if you try going at different times of day, you might find that there's a time when other parents tend to congregate. Pop-up play group!

I really like http://www.teachpreschool.org/ for different kinds of ideas to do with our kids at the library. Even though you're at home, there are so many things there that are cheap/easy to replicate at home.

But mostly don't worry! As long as you're talking to him and interacting with him on a regular basis he'll be fine. Even if you're just chattering along, he'll be picking up words and grammar patterns.

You sound like you're doing great!
posted by itsamermaid at 3:40 PM on December 31, 2012

Mom of a 2.75 year old. From when they can start moving on their own, I've found that kids are a lot like dogs - they need a lot of exercise otherwise they get really bored. Tire them out with lots of exercise and stimulation and you are golden.

So, go to Gymboree - he will love it and he'll get to run around until he falls down asleep. You might also consider creating some kind of sensory table in your house with sand or water. They love to play with either of those things and you can make it so that it won't be too terribly messy.
posted by Leezie at 3:41 PM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Adding to the 'get over the germs' choir, but I very much have to support the 'talk to them like adults' thing. Caveman talk doesn't teach them anything about pronoun usage, or inflection, or how language works. Adult talk, with that daft baby lilt that is almost impossible to get rid of, and occasional third person speech, primes them to learn the rules of language. The best book my partner and I read about parenting was NurtureShock by Po Bronson - it goes into a lot of the research about everything, including speech. It was a bit of a shock to us, but we went from a kid who was borderline for intervention (20 'words' at 18 months, including signs, her made up words like 'wuwu' for dog, and consistent animal noises) to a kid well over standard (250+ at 2 years, using sentences and most pronouns correctly).

As much as my hippie side hates it, shopping malls with play areas area brilliant. And as much as I dislike it, play group has been an absolute godsend for our kid. I just have to suck it up, but she has really had a ball.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:46 PM on December 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

#1 piece of advice is have *lots* of people with kids similar age, or recently that age, that you communicate with regularly. For me, that's Facebook.

It's really reassuring to talk about how frustrating it is that our almost-4 isn't potty trained yet, and to get the reassuring "OMG mine was still shitting himself at 6!" from a friend or friend-of-friend.

Facebook is like one big constant parenting group therapy session, and I love it.
posted by colin_l at 5:08 PM on December 31, 2012

Okay, I read Nurtureshock too, and there is no part where they suggest talking to toddlers like they are adults. Geek anachronism, I think we're largely saying the same thing, so I'm not sure why you're so adamant that we're not. Here is a thing written by the authors of that book:
1. Baby Talk May Sound Silly But It's Really Good For Kids
Baby Talk: We've all done it — that oddly sing-song, slow, giddy cadence that people suddenly use when speaking to children. There's actually a lot of research on baby talk — the scientific expression for it is parentese. Its patterns and cadence are so universal, that scholars can play a recording of someone speaking in a language you've never heard before, and you'll still know if the person was talking to a baby.

Some parents are adamant against baby talk; instead, they want kids to hear adults speak normally. But that's the wrong approach. Parentese's exaggerated qualities help children's brains discern discrete sounds. By elongating vowels and stressing transitions more clearly, parentese helps a baby brain's auditory cortex recognize vowel-consonants groupings. And some use of it helps until a child's second birthday.
As far as hating the caveman/Harvey Karp thing: I don't talk to my kid like a caveman all the time, but matching his intensity and naming what he wants without a lot of extraneous syntax makes him understand that I understand his frustration when he starts to melt down. It's been really helpful. If you want to, I dunno, use carefully crafted arguments to get out of a tantrum with your under-2-year-old, go right ahead. And good luck with that.
posted by purpleclover at 8:40 AM on January 4, 2013

It seems that my earlier comment now gets moved a little too far away from what I was trying to say, and from my actual experience.

I wrote: The best thing you can do is to talk to him like to a tiny tiny grown-up. That is, easy and straightforward language and no convoluted stuff, but no baby daa daa dim talk. Explain stuff, point at stuff, talk about it, talk about what you're going to do next etc. etc.. The reward: your next year together will be an explosion of verbal interaction.

I did not write "no baby talk ever," and I ought to have avoided the "no" altogether. Baby talk has a function in everyone's life. I'm an intensely silly person myself at times - what language is used when depends very much on the situation.

This does not mean that normal grammatical speech is fundamentally unsuited for toddlers. What many people seem to do is to err on the perceived "safe" side of the spectrum, and I believe, based on actual experience, that this is unnecessary, and in extreme cases may even slow up a kid's speech development.

...At one point in time, I had the daily obligation to go shopping, taking our daughter, then two years old, with me. We had "rented" a shopping cart from the nearby supermarket, so I put her into the seat and carted her over to the mall. I remember talking to her constantly, about what I was going to do, about how I was crossing the street, about the ducks on the grass, about that I was taking her out of the cart in the shop, and about whether she would care to select a package of juice (she did), and so on. The exercise wasn't to make myself absolutely positively understood to her in every carefully crafted elongated vowel, but to actively spend time with her, and to exemplify that speech is something that can carry meaning, and that listening to it is a positive experience...
That was, more or less, what I wanted to say above.

As the father of a very tantrum-prone son (now 20, so that's in the past) I want to point out that I would be the last to advocate a strategy of using "carefully crafted arguments to get out of a tantrum." Talking to a kid in the middle of a tantrum in lengthy explanations is just not very effective, as any parent of any three-year-old has found out within the first half hour. For negotiating the situation as quickly and thoroughly as necessary, through the typical wall of wail (or while ducking flying objects), obviously a caveman approach is a real option.
posted by Namlit at 10:24 AM on January 6, 2013

Yeah, I wouldn't be 'carefully crafting an argument with a tantrumming toddler' either, and I'm sorry if I gave that impression. Tantrums aren't normal day-to-day occurrences in my house though and are pretty much dealt with via isolation (with one of us) and breathing exercises and lots of cuddles. But my daughter is a definite outlier when it comes to those sorts of behaviours. And had oddly early receptive language so at 13 months we could use basic instructions and she'd understand them.

What I meant was the difference between my father's "awwww bubby wanna dindins? Dink? Wanna dink? Mummy, little girls wanna have dinks!" and my "oh bubby, are you hungry? I can pour you a glass of milk or water while we wait for it to cook, but we need to wait. Would you like to come and help?" is that his teaches her no real words, no real concepts and treats her as less intelligent than she is. Kids don't much like being patronised when they can do or understand it themselves, but that impulse is moderated by a desire for attention and approval. And it's about waiting for her to respond as well, and giving her that chance and choice. Asking if she'd like to help, letting her choose between water and milk, and making sure she's aware that we know she's hungry and empathise.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:36 PM on January 6, 2013

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