Monday, June 06, 2005

Teaching Toddlers Takes Patience

By Christina VanGinkel

My grandson, who is twenty-two months old, telephoned me last night to announce to me that he went potty! After I talked to him for a little bit, congratulating him on the fact, he handed the phone to his mother, my daughter, so I could hear the rest of the story.

From the minute my grandson was born, I think my daughter has been looking forward to the day she could toss the last diaper. With that day arriving soon, I asked her how it was going. She thankfully has a laid-back attitude about the complete potty training scene. She puts underwear on her son whenever they are not out of the house. This means he spends a large portion of the day in underwear. By him being able to feel and see what happens when he wets himself, he is quickly catching on about when it is time to use the bathroom. She is never condescending to him when he does have an accident, and a large amount of dialogue was started before he was ever put into his first pair of underwear, and each day since.

As my grandson is very vocal, this strategy seems to be working. While this has not been a quick process either, what task with a toddler ever is? So many times, parents seem to get upset when teaching a toddler to do something new, such as using the bathroom. What they oftentimes forget, is that not only is the whole idea new to the toddler, but that they have no experience to draw on for comparison when something brand new comes up. They are brand new themselves, and we must always be reminding ourselves of that fact.

My grandson was up for a visit last week, and his parents and he came to see my youngest son play in a little league game. With my grandson also came his own bat, glove, and ball. He can already grasp the bat and swing with enough control that he actually connects with the ball more times than he misses. My daughter made a statement on how fast he is learning tasks such as this, but not others. Before I could comment, she pointedly said it all depended on how much of an interest he had in the subject, in correlation to how fast he was to learn something. Her point being, that if she could keep things fun and lighthearted, he was far more apt to want to learn something. How true is that with any toddler? Very true, I would guess!

Is there anything to be learned from this? I would say that yes, there is. If you are having a trying time getting your toddler to grasp the concepts of a task, such as potty training, first, make sure they are ready to learn the task. Check with your pediatrician for guidelines to follow, and then consider your child as an individual, as no two kids ever learn something the same way or in the same timeframe as another. Then, find a way to make it fun, keep it light, and before you know it, your child will be proudly exclaiming, "I did it!"

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