Toddlers are unique little individuals. I love these toddler days. They are both exciting and frustrating and at the same time they push me to be better every day.
Being a Mom of toddlers is different at this later stage in my life. Twenty years ago I didn't appreciate this stage enough. I can say with certainty that I am more focused and know what I want my toddlers to get out of these years. I also have a better sense of my purpose in a toddlers life. However, I am most certainly humbled by the experience.
While pondering these thoughts I came up with a list of things that I think every toddler deserves. This is not a judgment, just an observation using my own life experiences as a mom and teacher.
Ten Things Every Toddler Needs
1. Love. Kindness, respect, and acceptance. The security to know that no matter what the do they will be loved and valued. They need to know they are important and unique and that God created them with purpose. This doesn't mean indulgence in all that they desire.
2. Attention. Every toddler needs to know they will have a few moment of Mom's undivided attention. One-on-one time for Mom to get into their world and understand what is important to them.
3. Safety. They need to be kept alive on a daily basis. Protection from sharp objects, electrical outlets, fires and things that could cause harm. This doesn't mean helicopter parenting. Toddlers need to be able to explore, play and have a parent who encourages them to try new things. A few scrapes and bruises are okay. It is how they learn.
4. Shelter. A home that is safe and clean. A bed to sleep on. This doesn't mean they have to have their own room or one full of Pottery Barn bedding.
5. Food. Food to eat every day. A well balanced diet that helps them to understand good food choices. They don't need the latest cool "snack" or sugar laden treats, or all organic foods.
6. Sleep. Ten to twelve hours a day. A bedtime ritual. To be able to soothe self to sleep and stay in own bed. They don't need someone in bed with them.
7. To Be Silly. Freedom to be able to enjoy the playful days of childhood. To be able to giggle, play dress-up, and make-believe. For you to be silly with them. They don't need someone to entertain them or play with them 24/7.
8. Limits. They need to hear both Yes and No. They need to learn to accept the word "No" with a content heart. (We are still working on this.) They don't need to always hear "No" or "Yes."
9. Entertainment. They need some scheduled age appropriate activities everyday. Reading, drawing, time to practice fine-motor skills. They don't need to be over scheduled or entertained constantly. They don't need fancy toys: iPods, iPads, or other devices. I am not saying they are wrong just not necessary.
10. Instruction. To be taught age-appropriate skills, lessons, and good manners. Teach Bible stories and basic Biblical truths. They don't need anything requiring more than few minutes of focused attention. They don't need lectures.