My growing toddler

I have come to a stage in motherhood where my little pēpi is growing before my eyes and it seems like such a long time ago where he was rolling around on the floor, picking up anything and everything and in the mouth it goes. The transitioning stage from two – three years old is such an important time for any child’s development and also where they make the most connections within their brain that shapes the person they will become. My son, Kawai is 2 and half years old and I have seen such a developmental shift socially, physically, emotionally and his ability to understand. The relationships he has formed with his pāpa, brothers, grandparents, kaiako and other tamariki is truly something amazing to watch over. Relationships are very important for brain development as this is how we learn to communicate. Kawai has been with me at Play Learn Grow from 5 months old, I do believe this has played a massive impact on all these areas of his development.

Does your toddler seem to think they know everything? Because they are beginning to talk in sentences, and sometimes say things in a big confident voice, it’s easy to think your toddler is more grown up than they really are. I know from raising a young toddler, Kawai is very vocal and he will tell you what he wants and how he is feeling. My role as a parent is to always stay positive, encourage his curiosity, staying connected even while redirecting or correcting. Our toddlers feed off the energy that you present them with. Having a calm, chill presence around Kawai has definitely rubbed off on him. We are always striving for our tamariki to be confident and competent learners and communicators. (Ministry of Education, 2017).

Have you ever looked down and realise that your toddler is no longer there? I’ve had my fair few experiences of this moment and it is usually at supermarkets or shopping malls. It gives you that heart drop moment where the worst thoughts come to your mind about where your toddler is. They usually run away because they are most likely excited, love the freedom of running or simply bored. Tips and tricks to keep them occupied while you’re out and about is to get them involved on your trip to the mall or supermarket, let them help push the trolley. Kawai loves helping me put the items in the trolley and crossing the item off the shopping list. He also loves putting food in there that I eventually take out when he is not looking… that’s just what toddlers do.

Empowering our toddlers is a great way to stop those tantrums from arising. Making them feel powerful and confident in their ability to do tasks by themselves makes them competent little learners. They LOVE to learn by doing. Household chores are a great way to involve your toddler, it may add some extra time to what you are doing but they are learning and gaining new skills for the future and you’re bonding. For instance, Kawai loves taking out the compost and he considers that ‘his job’, he also enjoys helping me clean the shower with a scrubbing brush. Other examples of getting your toddler to help can be washing vegetables in the sink, wiping the table or kitchen top, passing you the clothes to hang on the washing line or washing pots and pans (unbreakable dishes) in the sink. Getting a good stool so that they can easily climb up and down is a great way of getting them involved in the kitchen and learning about food. Remember, these are life skills that your toddler will learn to develop as they get older, in return make your life easier.

Our toddlers are no longer little babies who is dependent on us 24/7, they are growing before our eyes and every moment is so special and critical for their development. I’m lucky to still be breastfeeding Kawai, even though sometimes I want him to stop, I love having that bond with him that started as soon as he entered the world. There is that connection that I have with him that he gets with no one else and I will be forever grateful to be able to breastfeed for so long. Cherish the moments that you have with your toddler because before you know it, they’ll be leaving the nest and walking through life on their own. It’s these important years that shape the person they will grow to be.

“Poipoia te kakano kia puawai”

Nurture the seed and it will blossom