Solutions For Parents

Let Me Introduce Myself

Let Me Introduce Myself - Adapted by Susan H. Turben, Ph.D.

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Herman Williams and Lucy BarberThe 12-14 Month-Olds Strong Personal Sense of Purpose – A Message For Parents

What characterizes 12-14 month-old toddlers most strongly is their strength of purpose. The year-old toddler believes what she sees with her eyes and ears and hands. She is literally creating a reality for herself through her senses. The year-old toddler uses visual, auditory, and tactile impressions to think. She has a firm grasp of the permanence of things. She knows people, places and objects don’t actually disappear, even when they are out of sight. Notice her reaction when a person leaves a room. She looks intently at the spot to make sure the person reappears. She waves or goes to the doorway, looking to the person to return, and she shows grim determination and discomfort if that does not happen.

Year-olds are intent on purposefully causing actions to occur. When an object is thrown, it is clear that the toddler knows where it will land and tests what attention the act will bring. Toddlers are focused on holding and on alternatively, letting go. Toddlers are aware that there are times when things are in their control (holding on) and times when they are not in control. They use visual, auditory and tactile actions to learn which times are secure and safe and which times are detached and strange. This is how basic trust and attachment to people develops.

Social Action. Twelve-to-fourteen-month-old toddlers extend the range of their social contacts, and begin to adjust socially to different kinds of people. They start labeling objects and pointing, which add the elements of language to sensory experiences. Toddlers use single words and babbling sounds to voice needs and wants. Familiar actions are more skillful than words and thus, toddler behavior is highly imitative and playful. Social actions, such as pulling hair, poking, or hitting may occur, accompanied by eye contact, to test the reactions of others. When parents and adults minimize these acts and redirect toddlers to safer situations, wiser social action occurs. Mastery of positive social skills, especially the powerful tool of smiling, makes the one-year-old attractive and exciting.

Sense of Values. Even now at 12-14 months, toddlers have moral decisions to make. When does the toddler comply with Dad’s efforts to help him eat and when does he refuse and “throw a fit?” What things that he does not want to do, will he do? What does he refuse to do? Where does he go for support when an aggressive playmate interferes? Where are appropriate objects located for him to take and which objects and places are “off limits?” Toddlers show they not only understand some limits and make choices, but they also have clear preferences for social action and values. Parents greatly help toddlers to stay in control when they offer toddler’s choices in their objects and activities, so they can learn to solve their own problems.

Toddlers have lots of emotional energy to learn how to use in their relationships. This is how they gauge the reactions of other people. Toddlers are capable of learning to wait short intervals for things to happen. They can give up immediate attention and endure delay. While it’s natural for the toddler to demand prompt attention, parents need to acknowledge that 12-14 month-olds are capable of settling for a slightly delayed reaction. They can help toddlers to wait, by giving verbal and nonverbal reminders that there will be a short pause before they get what they want.

  1. Mouth and Eyes

During the 12-to-14 months stage, I will master depth perception and increased visual acuity by exercising eye-mouth-hand skills. For example, I open my mouth when I see a cup to pick up. Then I close it while the cup is in my hand and on the way to my lips. Then because I’m so smart, I open it again, and drink. My grasp is flexible. I can grasp whole hand, with the palm, or I can pick up tiny objects with my thumb and first finger.

It is astonishing how often I need to “see” by staring, with my eyes open wide. This exercises my central focal vision and helps me to adjust to different distances. I even enjoy looking upside down from between my legs, just to practice different perspectives.

I am now able to notice distinctive physical features of different people. I can already appreciate glasses or a bald head. I recognize most strong emotional expressions on the faces of favorite people like Mom and Dad. I know when people are angry or afraid. These are useful things to know. All I have to do is “visually” check and I can tell if what I’m doing is OK. This helps me relate to people, places, and things. As long as I feel safe, I’ll look and act at the same time. I’ll search every time I see an object or person and explore with my eyes and mouth and hands.

I also use many different postures in order to look. For example, I may stand up, then try leaning over or I may look down from my high chair to see things beneath and behind me. I use my whole body to get into a position for attentive looking. Once I get hold of something, I look at it, shift my focus away then back to look at another object before I return to looking at the first one. This is called “place-holding” and it helps me to organize my thoughts and actions.

I pursue objects hard with my eyes. I can watch a moving car until it disappears and then look over to catch sight of another. This is good practice if I hope to grow up without being run over by some crazy drive. I am able now to judge where something will land when I throw it. That will be especially good later in athletics. My parents need to help me use visual words like “see” and “look,” when I want other people to focus on what I’m looking at, or what I’m doing.

  1. Manipulation

Now that I am a talkative walking toddler, I plan to show off many reach and grasp skills. You know all those cans in the kitchen cupboard and old boxes that are empty? I like to use them to find hidden objects, even when I am the one who puts objects in them! When I reach out to grab something, I know how far away or near the object is. I pounce on it, exactly. I can judge depth, and size and location perfectly. I can’t judge how heavy or light objects are, however. I can feel smoothness, roughness, hard, and soft, and I can sort objects by the way they feel and look. I might put all the jar lids together and then cover them up with dish towels, so that I can play hide-and-seek,

Sometimes you give me a cup that is too heavy for me to handle, or I just wan to eat with my fingers. I’ll try a spoon and I love to “spear” things with forks. I don’t use a bottle very often, but I hold bottles and spoons very nicely and tilt them toward my mouth perfectly. I prefer holding objects in both hands. This actually helps my balance when I’m walking, bending over, or kicking. I am neither right-handed nor left-handed, I am both-handed and I want to stay that way. It is important to me to use both sides of my body and both sides of my brain to think and to act. I will not develop hand dominance until I am nearly 10 years old.

You will notice I stack rings on a cone; I put 2 blocks together, I put objects into holes that are the same shape. Mother helps me to practice putting objects together. She gives me small round cereals or pretzel sticks for my snack. I happily pick them up one by one and put them into containers or I decide to munch them. I can put small pieces in containers, dump them or pour them out, and refill them. This is very good for my mind as well as my hands. I take objects in and out of cupboards that are safe for me. Other places in the kitchen are “no-no’s,” but I like to try to tick Mom and Dad by touching them and then getting away. I am not trying to be negative.

  1. Social Adjustment

I think I am very friendly, but not intimate with very many people except Mom and Dad. I have my favorite people and I don’t like having people leave me. I carry on, but can get over it, if you will only give me a knock on the door or another reminder that you are going but are coming back. Play hide-and-seek with me and let me stand by the door or window, and I’ll be much better at watching people come and go.

I am willing to make more social contact skills, but I need help. First, I have to learn social discrimination. I’m a little sensitive, shy, and even suspicious, but after I have practiced social discrimination skills for awhile, and people begin saying, {“He’s a shy child,” or “He’s not very friendly, is he?” I will stop acting that way. Then I’ll probably go over to the other extreme and go on a kind of social binge. I am likely to specialize, in social-action. For instance, I may try walking with people while holding hands. I understand that will come in handy with the girls in a few years. Then, too, I will try some other social-action games – hiding behind chairs, and giving and receiving objects back and forth with people. Of course, I will so a lot more imitation of both words and acts,

I can be very touchy. I’ll have to learn to be more careful in my social behavior. I am likely to begin tugging and pulling to get what I think is mine. When should I hang on, and when should I let go? I’ll watch and see how my Mom and Dad to it. They are my role models right how.

  1. Language Development

I am celebrating my toddlerhood by saying my first comprehensible words. Being a unique child, mine is “dog.” Now that takes brains. I also say “ma” and “dadada.” I say “dada” for everything, even food and diapers. I have a friend who says all-gone, whoa, and so big. These are exciting words because they get all kinds of attention. I think I have done pretty well to learn to walk and say “dog” in just a few months. The fuss my parents made over it the first time I said it, you would have thought I had rewritten the dictionary. Well, I am able to almost get out several more words and I am a babbling chatter-box. I can babble and repeat sounds and words even when I‘m alone in the crib when I think no one is listening.

I have some other forms of expressive “jargon,” with which I can get clear messages to people. All I have to do is to point or moan, cry, or whine and I get what I want. I can understand spoken sentences a lot better if people use pointing and nodding, along with their words. “Put the cup on the table” may sound simple enough to you, but I can understand it better with gestures. You know, that ought to be a lesson to mom and dad. If we all point and gesture and talk at the same I can follow directions and stay in control much better.

Now that I am beginning to talk, I want to influence people. I will raise and lower my voice and change the pitch of my sounds I can really yell and stomp and throw myself on the floor. Mom and Dad can help me communicate better than that, by ignoring me and telling me they will wait till I stop before coming to be with me. Stay away when I’m having a fit because I’m just not very sociable that way. I particularly like certain words and I don’t like others. Did you notice I like “Good for you,” and “good job,” and I like lots of praise. They say that in a few months I will be using two words together and saying “strings” of sounds like “Round-n-round” and “Hiding” and “ma gone.” I can’t wait to tell people what’s on my mind with word and sentences.

  1. Emotional Development

Emotionally speaking, I am a happy year-old toddler. My long first year of life has convinced me that growing up involves eventually being able to tell the difference between things that up to now have looked alike. For example, right now, some toddlers howl when any woman except their mom comes near them. You see, that complicated things. Mom doesn’t want to be the only person in the life of a toddler. I am now more emotional on purpose. I show fear, disgust, anger, distress, excitement and delight. Since I have all this emotional energy, my parents are putting more and more restraints on my behavior. This often brings out some of these new forms of emotional expression. Then just to really change my life, my parents decided to have another baby. This will divert a lot of the attention from me, but I will try to treat the baby as I would any object – as mine. After all, anything I hold onto, I believe is part of me anyway, so it should work out.

By now, I like more and more people and am even willing to play search and hide games with relative strangers. I like dumping and pouring games a lot. I like up-and-down songs and games, too. I am also learning emotional “attitudes.” One of them has to do with social give-and-take in my relations with other children my age, especially children who are just as aggressive as I am. You see, when I hit Dad, he does not hit back. These other kids do. I need help staying in control by having mom and Dad give me short firm commands and setting limits for me. Say “Sit down, stop, hands down”, and other statements that divert my attention and give me “clues” as to how to behave and be cooperative. Offer me substitutions and remove me from bad situations, rather than hitting me back.

I also need a better “attitude” about doing what I don’t want to do at certain times. Sometimes I will be deprived of things I want, and sometimes I will be required to do some other things I do not want to do. My parents are very good teachers, but they should give me simple directions and limits and make sure that there is some positive reward for me when I have to follow directions and stay within their rules. I should be given boundaries and some consequences (like going to get a book) if I do not comply with the demands my parents make. I don’t need harsh punishment, but I need to know when I’m not being good. I am old enough to learn this now. When I watch some of our present-day teenagers, I don’t think they learned this lesson when they were toddlers.

You can help me by watching me closely and “catching” me when I am good. Praise me for that, and don;t reward me when I’m acting badly. Just ignore me, redirect me,  or get me away from the situation. Most importantly, when I’m being good and not bothering you, pay attention to me give me compliments. Don’t ignore my good behavior.

  1. Motor Development

My motor skills are taking off. I used to stand, cruise, walk holding on, and stagger. Now I walk. It takes many postures to get to a walking position. The last of these is getting off of my hands and knees and getting around on my hands and the soles of my feet. When all that was behind me, I started to walk!

My motor skills are combined with mental skills. I can scribble with a crayon and tell the difference between circles and squares. I like to poke my finger into round holes, but not square holes. So when I know the difference, you can tell. I still want to handle objects that are out of reach, and I love to climb up and over obstacles. I can manage one step up or down alone. My parents should get some things for me to reach at different levels, so I can practice taking object down and putting objects up. I hope Mom and Dad knows that shelves are better than boxes for toddlers and that I want to pick up toys and put them away, if you’ll show me specifically how to do it and give me time.

I have a lot of motivation to search and do things for myself. I can keep up the pace of physical activity all day with just 2 short naps. Starting, stomping, climbing, clambering – these are just a few of the new patterns I can do now. I use my mental ability to think about objects to pretend I am sleeping, eating, even jumping or crawling like a dog or cat.

My parents, with imagination, will help me create lots of purposes for these actions, to say nothing of using them in effective social action, and teaching me to be a good builder and construction expert. I like combining objects together, and I need to “work” with blocks, balls, cups, cans, baby dolls, bottles – you name it.

I will like playing with other kids, but will need help so that we are not fighting over the same toys. I will learn to walk away, or put my hands down, when Mom tells me to. I will learn to listen and sing and talk because those things distract another toddler from fighting.

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