Explore, Create, Adventure

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Congratulations! You are now the proud parent of a toddler. The trust that they've experienced from you at birth-9 months of age is now going to be utilized to explore their world from 9-18 months of age. This involves moving around, touching, tasting, and in-general exploring. If a basic sense of trust was established during infancy from emotionally balanced and nurturing parents (that's you), the toddler will have a healthy sense of future exploration, creative risk taking, and adventure. And how cool is that for you to have planted those seeds in your child??! Parents need to have a lot of patience and emotional balance in order to look after their toddler constantly during this time (and to guide them) and to "tag team" when one needs a break and to find rest.

The second period kids go through from 18 months through 3 years old is the separation stage. This is the stage where your kids learn balance...in more ways than one. They will pump their "willpower" muscle to learn more about "holding on" and "letting go" and what that means in their life. In order for kids to develop healthy limits in their exploration; they need to have two parents that model a healthy expression of anger and good skills in resolving conflict (see first paragraph in regards to always being "on duty" and needing rest). When things are STRESSED (and they WILL be) kids are going to see, hear, and tuck it all away in their little subconscious minds (which by the way becomes tucked deep down in their future adult minds). Therefore, children need to witness two parents honestly expressing their true feelings and resolving their disagreements (about raising baby and about daily life) and realize that communication and compromise are a healthy part of any relationship.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do you have trouble knowing what you want?

Are you afraid to explore when you get to a new place?

Are you afraid to try new things? Before you do, do you wait until someone has tried it before you?

Do you have great fears of abandonment?

In difficult situations do you long for someone to tell you what to do?

If someone gives you a suggestion, do you feel you ought to follow it?

Are you a big worrier?

Do you have trouble being spontaneous? Are you too spontaneous?

Do you tend to be obsessive about neatness and cleanliness? Or is your space too out of order?

Will you do almost anything to avoid conflict? Or do you do things to trigger conflict (to reinforce that you are loved)?

Do you extremely overdo or over-consume anything in your life?  

Are you often excessively critical of other people?

Your answers were created from YOUR childhood. This period in your child's life is what forms their beliefs on control, adventure, worry, boundaries, and intimacy.

It’s equally important to learn during this stage that nobody is perfect.Your child needs to learn that they can have a bad day and still be loved (after those tantrums) and the same applies to you Mom and Dad. You're learning along the way. This is not a blame game. Fill your tool box with the tools that can help you model a healthy sense of boundaries, exploration, communication, risk-taking, and willpower for the little people in your life.