What defines a toddler?

Published 2:55 pm Wednesday, December 31, 2003

By By Sonya Rogers Education columnist
The word toddler usually represents the same meaning for most people. By Webster's definition, a toddler is a young child. Yet, with this definition comes other incredible thoughts that people associate with the childish toddler. Many parents and caregivers are constantly on edge while caring for a toddler. One reason is based on the fact that these youngsters are not afraid to flirt with hot toaster ovens, staircases, and/or sharp objects.
Toddlers can't quite comprehend just how much they exasperate those who care for them.
Even though toddlers are not as intelligent or experienced in real-life situations as teen-agers and adults, they do use their brain to process information at an unbelievable speed. Their brain is a magnificent organ. It embraces and rejects ideas at a dizzying rate.
Toddlers are often smarter than we give them credit. At the age of 3, my oldest daughter once asked, "Mommy what keeps a boat above water?" Then she asked, "Why fish don't have ears?" Even though her grammar was a bit rusty, her thinking was impressive for a 3- year-old. Many toddlers also experience dramatic mood shifts. This unpredictable behavior can create embarrassing memories for dinner plans, shopping, or social gatherings. However, on most occasions, the toddlers' adorable appearance allows adults to excuse their capricious behavior.
A vast number of parents exhaust themselves trying to find the right discipline technique, the right attitude for dealing with unpleasant behavior, and the right solution to infant outbursts. Yet, adults do not think like their little ones. Toddlers, unlike teen-agers or adults, cannot grasp physical concepts such as the distance to a store, the idea that spilled liquids are wet and slippery, or the fact that chairs can tip over.
Many parents make numerous attempts to teach their little ones how to make wise decisions at an early age. One method of teaching children to make smart choices entails showing them the unpleasant nature or consequences of making poor choices. This often works well in relation to drugs, stealing, cheating, or lying. Yet, most youngsters choose to learn lessons the hard way! Even the best parents feel like a failure at times.
Parenting can be a tedious task that sometimes seems self-defeating, but the winner is the one who doesn't give up! Parents and youngsters must work together as a team.
The legendary coach Bear Bryant once said, "If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes real good, then you did it."
As parents, we must instill positive values and morals that will build good character and respect within our children. Then, we must hope that the end will be real good.
Sonya Rogers is an independent columnist for the Atmore Advance and reports on educational issues. She may be reached by e-mail at newsroom@atmoreadvance.com

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