Dear Caring Parent,
When you see a parent at the airport with two kids maybe 18 mo and 3 yrs, each child using an ipad, do you judge him/her a mean, lenient or a balanced parent? (I know, judging isn’t cool, but face it, who of us doesn’t fall in to that at times.)
When you hear the kindergarten teacher saying, “It’s amazing, my new students can read at a 2nd grade level, but they can’t cut paper with scissors”, do you judge those parents as having been mean, lenient, or balanced?
When you are in conversation with other parents, and one describes how his 3 yr old son screams bloody murder when his ipad is taken from him, so he (Dad) just lets his kid have it saying “after all, he’s going to be growing up with this stuff”, do you judge him as mean, lenient, or a balanced parent?
All of these are real scenarios.
Toddler toys are changing as fast as technology is changing for you. Toddler books can even be read kindle like. So not only do they need to learn to turn pages of books, but they need to learn to push the arrow so the next page comes up. Which, of course, they love because toddlers love pushing buttons! It’s the toys that have changed of course, yet toddler needs remain unchanged; meaning, what is required for growth and development hasn’t changed!
So what does a toddler need? Understanding that will help you know whether you are being mean, lenient or balanced in how you use the abundantly available techy toys. Here’s my list, based on what I’ve seen professionally and experienced as a parent. If there is anything you’d add, write it out in the comments section – would love to see it!
1. Toddlers are moody! (see my last blog). Moody, the toddler, is learning about all kinds of emotions that are difficult to get organized around; disappointment, jealousy, possessiveness, sharing, patience, waiting…. Moody does great having stories read to him/her about how some creature managed these feelings. She and he do great learning feeling words because that helps them organize themselves.
2. Moody and friends are mimicking the active beings around them (witness the 2 yr old that gets down on his hands and eats from the dogs bowl). You get on the cell phone and computer, so they want to also.
3. Dear moody Moody needs time to take charge, to use imagination (techy toys tend to dictate actions).
4. Moody needs to learn to listen, follow directions, have patience, be part of a group, and to figure some things out on his/her own. After all, this will be a part of school, relationships, and work life in the future.
5. Moody is learning words and their meanings, about groupings of things (beginning math), and about shapes and patterns.
6. Moody needs 1:1 time with loved ones. And to know that he/she has go-to people when things go awry.
7. The hardest thing of all, while Moody is surging forward in the world, he/she is learning that there are things that are safe and not, can-do and can’t do, and geez, that is hard learning.
8. Moody can get bored! And all hell breaks loose when that happens. But he/she can be so wonderfully creative in moving out of that if given the opportunity.
9. Moody can’t handle all situations like an adult. He/she definitely needs guidance from the big people around.
So keep returning to your families focus as you decide how much technology, when, and where it comes into your toddlers life. To develop both sides of the brain and grow emotionally as well as physically and intellectually, all kinds of different activities are needed.
Our toddlers are exhausting to us. No toys are going to change that. Take lots of deep breaths and remind yourself frequently, “I do have the patience for this”. Put yourself on the balanced side of this techy toys debate.
Take care now, Natasha