When I look at Nico, it is hard to believe that my vibrant energetic mess machine was a helpless infant less than a year ago. Time really does fly, and they really do grow up in the blink of an eye! In the short growth gap when our little ones go from babyhood to childhood, there is an array of important lessons they must learn. We all want to give our children the earliest possible preparation!
One tip I picked up is that it is never too early to start teaching them responsibility.
At around 18 months, most babies are highly aware of their surroundings, and they are aware that they can have both negative and positive effects on those surroundings. For example, a few months ago, Nico discovered that he was just tall enough to reach the low light switches in the house; whenever mommy or daddy isn't looking he begins to constantly click them on and off.
But, soon enough he will learn that "With great power, comes great responsibility."
Now is the time to start showing your toddler how to take care of the things he can directly effect. Start with simple things and gradually increase complexity as the child becomes even more aware of the world around him.
- When you leave or enter a room let the child turn the light on, or off, teaching him to conserve energy.
- If you have plants in your home or garden, let your little one help you water them, teaching her to take care of the environment.
- If you have a pet let the toddler help/watch you feed it, teaching him that living creatures share our planet and might sometimes need our help. By letting him groom the animal gently under your supervision you are also teaching him how to handle other living things with tender care.
- At the end of play time, let her help you pick up her toys, if you don't already do this. She will learn to clean up after herself.
- When you are putting away his clothes, let him put a few items in the drawer so he will learn that everything has a place, and that sometimes, even mommy needs a little help!
Those five little "chores" may seem trivial to us as adults, but they could make your toddler feel like a SUPER BABY! Whenever he/she completes a task give them loads of praise and lots of high fives! Encouragement is the best way to reinforce and maintain gratifying behavior, and it makes those little guys feel special, and important!