Magazine article Work & Family Life

Why Toddlers Do What They Do

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Why Toddlers Do What They Do

Article excerpt

Q I'm baffled by my toddler's behavior. Why does she have such a fit when her cookie drops and breaks in two or if we don't follow her bedtime ritual exactly? -J.K., Ames, Iowa.

A At this point, when toddlers are making sense of the world, they develop fixed ideas of how things are supposed to work. As a "literal thinker," your daughter doesn't understand that a cookie tastes the same in smaller pieces or that sandwiches are really no different cut in triangles or in squares.

Rituals and routines are important in a two-year-old's life. Familiar objects and repeated activities provide a sense of structure. Keep in mind, however, says Gail Reichlin in The Pocket Parent, that while tucking your child in may involve a long process of reading, singing and assembling the right animals, "trying to shorten a well-established bedtime routine may actually backfire and take much longer."

At the same time, try to balance your toddler's need for autonomy and control with some flexibility. …

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