Dear Caring Parent,

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 around techy toddler toys?

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 into 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?

All of the above are real scenarios.

Toddler toys are changing as fast as technology changes. Toddler books are even kindle-like.  So not only do they learn to turn pages of books, but they 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!

What Does a Toddler Need

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 toddler 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 dog’s 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 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.

The Simple Guide with Toddler Techy Toys

To know what to do with toys, keep returning to your family’s values in combination with knowing that all kinds of activities are needed for both sides of the brain to develop emotionally, physically and intellectually. ‘Holding’ both of these in mind, values and brain development, you will make the right decisions for your toddlers use of techy and non-techy toys.

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 toy debate.

Take care now, Natasha