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Friday, July 24, 2009

Telling Time Toddler-Style

So one of the latest temper-tantrum causers in our household is learning patience, and of course, I know I'm not alone in this! The difference between minutes, hours, weeks and months really means nothing to a 2-year old, so you must explain how long they must wait for something in their own discernible terms.

"Little" Waits
What I've found is best is explaining all the processes, events, etcetera, that must take place before whatever it is they're waiting for will happen. If you need to prepare dinner, but Johnny insists you stop and sit down to play trucks with him, try explaining all the steps you must do to prepare this meal to him. For example, "Johnny, I'd love to sit and play with you, but first I must wash and cut the potatoes, then add the cheese & spices...."). Go on to say that once you reach such a point (e.g., putting the casserole in the oven), you can sit and play with him. For short-awaited events, you can also try setting a timer for them to watch so that they can "see" their time to play with you advancing.

"Big" Waits
Is your 3 year old anxiously awaiting an upcoming trip? Try explaining what will happen on the days prior to this event (e.g., "Today we're going to do "x, y & z," then we'll go to bed tonight. Tomorrow we'll do "a, b & c" and so on. Of course, not mentioning something they're excited for too far in advance is also a good idea!) Another option for distant events? Do it like you do at Christmastime: make a paper-link chain (also a great craft activity to do with the kids!), with each link representing how many days until you go to Disneyland, for example. Each day she can remove a link from the chain, and this will give her not only a great concept as to how long a day actually is, but she can feel good about seeing the links disappear and move that much closer to her great anticipation of the (dreaded & dizzying!) "tea cup" ride!

Books to Help
There are several kids' books out their on this topic, as well. You can try reading "The Pigeon Wants a Puppy," "Lucy's Secret," or "Green Yellow Go! Nat Knows Bananas."