St. Louis, MO
Toddlers are Learning: Even with the Dog’s Water Bowl and the TV Remote
Your child has an innate curiosity to explore and learn. Toddlers face a conundrum, stay next to Mommy or Daddy where it is safe or move away, crawling or walking to see something new. Usually the toddler chooses to move away, using those muscles and the new activity of crawling or walking so that she can understand the world around her.
Here in the US, we encourage our children to be independent. The act of crawling and walking is celebrated not only because of the new skill, but because with it we know comes more learning. As parents we might not always recognize the learning part, but it is there.
Think how many times a child can examine the same item. Let’s take the family dog. The dog has all kinds of behaviors: calm walking, running, barking, playing with toys, eating, and sleeping. To the child who is now moving on her own, she needs to examine the dog and his activities. Is he always the same? How does his fur feel? Does he move when he is sleeping? Why does he bark? What does his food and water feel like? Does he always do the same thing? What if I have his ball and what if I throw (drop) it? Answers to these questions and many more have to be experienced by the toddler over and over again. Learning is happening. Synapses in the brain are building. Concepts get added to by the child, especially when she can feel and interact with the dog during his playing, sleeping and yes, eating. Toddlers and the dog’s water bowls are a source of constant conflict for parents. There are two things happening—what the dog does and then what water does when it is slapped by small hands. Double trouble, right? But if you can look at it as learning, it may help when she is in the water bowl for the tenth time this week. After all, it the water seems the same as in the bathtub.
Another huge draw for toddlers is your TV remote. It is important to all in the family. So why wouldn’t she want to examine it? What happens when she presses the buttons? How many times do parents take the remote away and say, “NO”? Obviously, she cannot have the remote, but there are so many internal urges for learning. At a point, getting the remote is a way of getting the parent’s attention.
Thinking about other technologies that toddlers love, your tablet, computer, and phone. Our son’s toddler daughter was crawling around throughout the living and dining rooms. Toys were strewn throughout and he was working on the computer. He hears a click, click, click and does not think too much about it. Five minutes later there is that click, click, click. Elizabeth was resetting the modem box. The box is attractive, with lots of lights and there is a button that makes a clicking sound when pressed.
Our Paige, who is two years old, plays with our old cell phones. Now she not only ‘talks’ on them, she sends ‘text messages’ as well. Her texting reminds me that we live in a new age. Learning comes from experimenting but also watching her older sibling and parents. The pace of learning and its content is amazing!
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