Lessons in Toddlerhood

Hello 18 months! Can you believe it? I can’t!

Time has flown by, but it’s been so exciting and rewarding to watch Jaden grow and develop into a more independent person. He is energetic, fun, loving, smart, and so curious about the world around him.

Some of his major developmental milestones include:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Climbing
  • Identifying and naming body parts
  • Learning new words
  • Speaking in short sentences
  • Throwing and kicking balls
  • Assisting with getting dressed/undressed
  • “Reading” books on his own
  • Observing and remembering things well

As much as this stage has been about Jaden learning and developing, I feel like it has afforded me just as many opportunities to learn and grow as a parent. Today I’m sharing some things I am learning as I navigate this stage of life with my son.

1. Be present and engaged. As Jaden continues to learn and grow, I have seen how important it is for me to be fully present and engaged with him. I can’t say that I am perfect at this, but I trying my hardest to minimize distractions when I’m around Jaden to ensure that we are spending quality time together. If things must be done around the house such as cooking or cleaning I will sometimes include him in age appropriate aspects of those activities. Whether it’s putting away laundry, sweeping the floor, or making dinner, I have found that including Jaden in these activities not only increases our time together, but it also exposes him to new learning opportunities.

2. Be patient. At this stage, everything is about Jaden. At least that what he thinks. He always wants to do his own thing, but that obviously can’t be the case. His need to exercise his independence is building patience in me. What does that look like? That might mean repeating something over and over or removing him from the same situations time and time again or giving him the space to have his tantrums, within reason. While those things may be frustrating or tiring, my perspective is that if I can demonstrate patience with him in those moments maybe he will learn to exude the same characteristic as he continues to grow up.

3. Encourage exploration and establish boundaries. Like most toddlers, Jaden is a natural explorer. It’s important that I provide plenty of space and opportunity for him to engage with the world around him, to be curious, and learn new things. One thing I love about Jaden is that he enjoys playing with “non-toy” items. It’s fun watching him learn how to use a lint roller or measuring cup and spatula. As my husband and I allow Jaden the freedom to explore, it’s also been important for us to begin to establish boundaries. This is definitely not easy either, but we continue to do our best to help Jaden understand what things are off-limits and understand certain actions will result in discipline.

4. Give grace. To your child and most importantly to yourself. As I mentioned before, toddlerhood has been and will continue to be a learning experience for both me and my son. I find that I’m often harder on myself than I need to be when it comes to matters of raising him. I’m sure other moms can relate. I am continuing to learn that just as I extend patience and grace to Jaden I need to do the same for myself. I know I will make mistakes and I won’t have all the answers as I continue to learn how to parent my son, but I also know that my mistakes cannot define me. Instead, I have to choose to learn from my errors and move forward.

I know this is only the beginning of toddlerhood, but I am looking forward to more learning and growing through this phase with my “baby” boy!

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