Free to be me!
Chances are, your toddler is already hard at work showing you she's her own person. Maybe she insists on wearing her rainboots eight days in a row, or only wants to use the purple and yellow crayons. As Robert Myers, Ph.D., of the Child Development Institute notes, "Every child has a unique way of feeling, thinking and interacting with others." While it may make you go slightly crazy when your tot demands she wear her tutu to bed, she's showing you she's developing a sense of self -- which is a very good thing. Continue to promote your tot's individuality by trying these tips.
1Assign your toddler special jobs throughout the day, suggests Nursery World. This could include setting out a snack, getting out a bucket of toys, or wiping down the table with a paper towel. Your tot will get a kick out of having his own unique role in the house. Get ready for some new fave refrains: "I do it!" and "On own!"
2Give your toddler choices, recommends Nursery World. For example, you could offer crayons, markers, or finger paint for an art activity, or crackers, apple slices, or a cereal bar for snack. You might have gray hair by the time he makes up his mind, but it's worth the wait -- your toddler will love knowing that his opinion matters.
3Provide your little one with places he can call his own, Nursery World suggests: a peg to hang his coat, or a shelf area or box for "treasures." Having special places designated just for them helps toddlers feel important. And if you forget which peg is his, don't worry -- your little bossy pants is sure to remind you: "Mine, Mommy!"
4Offer dolls with various skin and hair colors, and paints and crayons that can be used to show a range of skin tones during playtime, suggests the National Network for Childcare. This way, appreciating cultural differences becomes part of the everyday play routine. While these may lead to some awkward comments you'd rather your tot didn't utter in public -- "Why Daddy this color and Sasha that color?" -- use these opportunities to show that people come in many amazing colors, and that's what makes the world so great.
5Play music from different cultures and provide both male and female dress-up clothes, the National Network for Childcare also recommends. The beauty of your son in a kimono doing the Macarena? Great photo opps, but also a child that understands that not only is he an individual, but so are others.
6Read books to your toddler that celebrate his individuality. One great website is TheBestChildrensBooks.org, which recommends "Spoon" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, which is about a spoon who thinks his life is boring, but doesn't know he's actually envied by knife, fork, and chopsticks -- a sweet tale about being happy with yourself and what makes you special. This site also recommends "Chrysanthemum" by Kevin Henkes, which is about a young mouse who gets made fun of for her unique name, but eventually learns to love it. A groovy way to start a discussion with your tot about what makes these characters unique -- and all the ways she's one-in-a-million, too.
Things You'll Need
- Wooden or plastic peg
- Empty box or shelf
- Female dress-up clothes
- Male dress-up clothes
- Multicultural dolls
- Multicultural CDs or digital tracks
- Crayons and markers that show a variety of skin tones
- "Spoon" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
- "Chrysanthemum" by Kevin Henkes