3 reasons you shouldn’t rush a toddler

Why rushing a toddler is futile
A few weeks ago, my family and I visited a children’s museum that could have kept my toddler’s attention all day long. He opened and closed the doors to a bus, inserted circular discs into slots, floated boats on water and pushed a bazillion buttons. The museum was an amazing place for my toddler, and he made sure to take his time on each and every single exhibit. In the meantime, here I sat thinking, “Wow, when is he going to move on to the next one?”

Let me back track: I absolutely appreciated the museum for what my toddler was able to learn and explore from its many exhibits. I loved watching his inquisitive mind try to figure out how things work and hearing him squeal at every button he pushed. I love all that. But as an adult who has long ago figured out why doors open and close and that boats ride the currents of the water, I don’t exactly hold the same wonderment as my toddler.

Why rushing a toddler is futile
Other times, I’ve found myself rushing him through activities that for me, are simply a means to an end, but to my toddler, remain an untapped resource for enjoyment and learning. For instance, I practically dragged him by the hand back home from the park because he insisted on looking at the stoplights flashing behind us. We also take walks around the block or explore at our nearby park, and in the past I would urge him to continue on, saying, “Come along, we’re almost around the corner.” And each time, my toddler politely refused to budge and instead stayed put touching sprinklers or took his time collecting sticks and leaves.

None of my pressings were ever successful in actually getting my toddler to move on, and I’m all the more thankful for that. I’ve since done my best to stop rushing him through his activities, however much I would rather move on. Instead, I keep the following points in mind:

  • Everything is new in a toddler’s world, so even the simplest activities to us can be potentially mind blowing to them. Every environment provides them an arena to learn something new or practice a skill or drill a concept they had been working on.
  • In being allowed the time to discover, children come to learn that we support and encourage their explorations and critical thinking skills. Their play time isn’t merely some silly activity that we brush aside but instead are honored for the teaching purposes they serve.
  • Given a few years’ time, these “slow” events will no longer intrigue toddlers, and I would rather take advantage of what they can offer my still-young toddler while he still appreciates them and can expend the interest and focus he currently does.

I’ll admit—taking my time isn’t always so easy. As a busy mom with a running list plastered in her head of all the things she still has to do, sometimes the last thing I need is spend 20 minutes standing on a sidewalk watching my toddler pick up acorns. And there have been days when we really do have to get somewhere and I have little choice but to rush him along.

That said, I still try to consciously remind myself to let him explore at his own pace because I sure wouldn’t want someone rushing me should I land on some amazing find. And I’ve realized that rushing him isn’t exactly effective—the little guy is quite adamant about staying put or, even if he obliges to quit picking flowers, will still take his time observing the rocks and holes the next second.

I’ve stopped bothering with hurrying him along. Now, a walk around the block isn’t simply a means to an end, a destination to reach. Instead, we take our time as I do my best to block out all the to-dos running through my head.

When have you found yourself rushing your toddler through an activity? What benefits have you seen by allowing your kids to explore at their leisure?

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50 favorite baby and toddler books

50 favorite baby and toddler books
My toddler loves books. He can easily focus on reading for over an hour, contently sitting by himself flipping through pages, once in a while asking questions about the words and pictures. In honor of this constant, favorite hobby of his, I wanted to list several favorite books perfect for babies and toddlers:

  1. Mooncake by Frank Asch
  2. Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
  3. Big Book of the Berenstain Bears by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain
  4. Pajama Time! by Sandra Boynton
  5. Daddy’s Lullaby by Tony Bradman
  6. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  7. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
  8. The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  9. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
  10. Woolly’s Walk by Stephen Cartwright
  11. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  12. ABC I Like Me! by Nancy L. Carlson
  13. Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola
  14. The Alphabet Book by P.D. Eastman
  15. Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman
  16. Olivia Counts by Ian Falconer
  17. Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
  18. Corduroy by Don Freeman
  19. Are You Ticklish? by Sam McKendry
  20. My Friends by Taro Gomi
  21. A Good Day by Kevin Henkes
  22. Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest
  23. The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort
  24. In the Garden by IKids
  25. Daddy and Me by Karen Katz
  26. Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz
  27. My First Signs by Annie Kubler
  28. My Truck is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis
  29. Tugga-Tugga Tugboat by Kevin Lewis
  30. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
  31. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
  32. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury
  33. Potty by Leslie Patricelli
  34. Little Hands Love by Piggy Toes Press
  35. First 100 Words by Roger Priddy
  36. My Mom Loves Me! by Marianne Richmond
  37. The Night Night Book by Marianne Richmond
  38. I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom
  39. My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann
  40. What time is it? by Gladys Rosa-Mendoza
  41. What Makes a Rainbow? by Betty Ann Schwartz
  42. Dr. Seuss’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book! by Dr. Seuss
  43. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  44. Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw
  45. There Is a Bird On Your Head! by Mo Willems
  46. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
  47. Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
  48. The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood
  49. The Wheels on the Bus by Paul O. Zelinsky
  50. Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman

How many of the 50 listed here have you read? I know a bunch of you are bookworms, so what are some of your favorite children’s books that I missed? Who are your favorite authors?

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Weekend links and actually doing something I pinned on Pinterest

Weekend links and actually doing something I pinned on Pinterest
One of the boards on the Sleeping Should Be Easy Pinterest account is a “crafts with kids” section, where I pin awesome activities I swear I’ll do with my toddler. Of course I always find some excuse: “But I don’t have tongue depressors handy… I lost the white crayon so now I can’t make the magic letters… He’s too young for that activity…” And so on. But I couldn’t find an excuse for this activity, from the blog No One Has More Fun than the Adams’: fun with pipe cleaners and a colander. After all, I actually had pipe cleaners (who knew they’d come in handy after all?) as well as a colander in the kitchen. So off we go, for our first ever Pinterest activity.

Weekend links and actually doing something I pinned on Pinterest
And what do you know, the little guy loved it. I figured he would, considering he likes figuring out how things work and was just bowled over at the shapes the pipe cleaners were making. I had to help him make poke the first end of the pipe cleaner, but he determined where he wanted to stick the other end to. He kept asking, “What’s this?” with the pipe cleaners, although he must have selective memory because I swear I showed it to him several months ago but was met with a “I’m not interested” shrug.

I liked this activity, however short it was, because we already had these two items and he was able to flex his fine motor skills with all that poking and aiming at the holes. I’m pretty sure he would have kept going if I had given him more pipe cleaners (and another colander).

Perhaps I can go find more orange pipe cleaners while you read a few links below:

  • The The LA Times cites that the U.S. ranks 25th of best places for mothers. The U.S.’s relatively low ranking compared to other developed countries is due to issues like risks in pregnancy-related deaths, child mortality, low political status for women, preschool enrollment and guaranteed paid maternity leave.
  • If that isn’t enough to get you excited about books, SSBE reader Ana from Mommyhood: From the Heart featured a link to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. If your child is between the ages of 0 to 5, he or she can receive one free book a month until they turn five years old. I haven’t signed up for this but Ana has been receiving her free books from this literacy program.

What Pinterest activities have you done recently?

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Weekend links and Festival of Books

Weekend links and Festival of Books
Imagine joining thousands of other book-lovers convening at a local university, all lining up to meet their favorite authors, listening to readings or purchasing books from small and large sellers alike. That’s what one morning looked like a few weeks ago as we attended The LA Times Festival of Books at USC. We watched a band playing children’s songs (I can’t get away from them!) and also bought a new book called Blue Goose. And while my toddler preferred to play lets-find-every-fountain-there-is-on-this-campus, this sort of event suits him quite well considering that he is one voracious reader.

This is one hobby that I hope my toddler will continue throughout his life, considering all the benefits I’ve already seen that reading has had on him:

  • He learns about things he otherwise hasn’t seen in person yet, whether it’s the seasons of the year (we don’t exactly have a “winter” here in Southern California) or the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly.
  • Books provide entertainment. He can easily sit by the bookcase for over an hour flipping through books.
  • Books expose him to new words. How often have you told someone, “And then I exclaimed…“? We don’t exactly go around saying words like “exclaimed” or “shuddered,” but because we read them in books, he has a storage of words that he probably wouldn’t learn just by listening to conversations.
  • He is starting to learn how to read. This may be a bit premature to say, but I think my toddler is starting to get the idea of reading. He knows that “N-O” spells “no,” so imagine my surprise when he saw the letters “T-O” and he said, “That spells ‘toe’!” Okay, so it’s not exactly “toe,” it’s really “to,” but I like that he put two-and-two together and ventured that “to” sounds like “no,” just with a T. And out of the blue, he said “‘Teeth’ and ‘tail’ start with ‘T’.” So cool!

In the past, I had tossed a few books because they were ratty, torn, and so out of shape. Now I mend them instead because I realize that they’re simply often-used, well-loved books by a little guy who can’t get enough of them.

For more information on how to encourage reading in kids, below are a few links and resources:

What benefits of reading have you seen in your kids? How do you encourage your kids to read?

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Weekend links and the cat that’s spelled ‘meow’

Weekend links and the cat that's spelled 'meow'
My toddler has gone book-bonkers and spends a huge chunk of his day flipping through books. He likes to recite the lines, all the while tracing the words with his fingers as if he were really reading them. Or we’ll hear, “What’s that say?” as he points to lines in a book (of course asking this over… and over… and over).

He can also now identify certain words. When we walk around the block, he knows that the stop signs are spelled S-T-O-P and that those letters spell out the word “stop.” At first I thought he just knew that stop signs in general say stop, but yesterday we were driving and he saw the word “stop” written on a wall. “That says ‘stop’,” he pointed out. He also knows that the letters N-O spells the word “no,” so that when the word comes up in signs or in books, he knows that that spells “no.”

He doesn’t know how to actually read yet—I pointed out the word “go” to see if he would put two and two together and realize that while N-O spells “no,” G-O spells “go.” But he just looked at the word and waited for me to tell him what the big deal is. So, yay that he can identify a few words, but so far he’s still working on the actual reading part.

Which may also be why, as we were reading a book of sounds, he saw a picture of a cat with the word “meow” on the bottom and proudly spelled “M-E-O-W…’Cat’!” If only “cat” was spelled “meow.” But you can’t blame the kid for trying. And try he does—as I watch him burrow his frown while he flips through the pages, I can almost see the gears in his brain working, trying to de-code this crazy thing called reading.

Speaking of reading, here are a few links to read this Sunday:

  • The NY Times featured an article called The Non-Joie of Parenting. With the newest parenting book floating around—Bringing Up Bébé—the author wonders whether the methods prescribed in the book can even be applicable to most U.S. families.
  • And over at Power of Moms, April Perry tells moms that Your Children Want YOU! The downside of Pinterest and the vast reach of the internet is that we see all the crafty things moms are doing and suddenly feel convinced that we have to do them as well or else we’re not being a “good mom.” Me? Not so much. I’m not going to beat myself up if all I managed to do for Easter was buy some plastic eggs and stickers to fill them in (and really, it was my husband who did this, so I really fail on the Pinterest report card).

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