Why We Require So Much Of Toddlers

Toddlers posses a wonderful ability to learn and understand new things. Watching them discover new experiences, creatures, and ideas is very rewarding. The amount of growth that a toddler undergoes is significant, especially since it is in such a short time. The demands and requirements that are placed upon a toddler are great. Yet, in my opinion they are usually up to the challenge. They are sponges soaking up everything that interests them. Through the efforts of parents they even soak up some things which don’t particularly appeal to them. However, do we require too much of them? Are we trying to cram too much into those little noggins?

Big Expectations For Such Little People

When our babies grow into toddlers, what we expect of them multiplies many times over. Graduating from diapers to pull-ups, learning to form words and sentences, navigating the toilet rim, picking up toys, not grabbing the dog’s tail, etc. The list of advanced requirements is both extensive and wide-ranging. Yet, we often give little thought to how much we expect from these little tikes. It seems to me that we require more of our children during their toddler years than at any other time. Part of what I am referring to as “requiring more” has to do with the jumps in reasoning and understanding we expect them to make. Our toddlers have never before been expected to police themselves, to control what they say and what they do. Learning these newly expected skills: accountability, impulse control, thoughtfulness, compassion, etc. is a lot for someone so young. After all, previously they were only ever expected to giggle, wiggle, drool, and crawl.

Why Do We Require So Much?

Despite our low expectations of our children when they are babies, we still expect them to make leaps in reason and skill that would challenge the best of adults. Are our expectations fair? Yes, I think they are in most cases. The world is often a complicated and dangerous place. Learning to walk, talk, and understand speech opens up a whole new world for toddlers. Along with newfound wonders, this also brings newfound risks.

Toddlers should not be allowed to indulge their impulses willy-nilly because their impulses carry greater repercussions than when they were infants. They could wander into the street, break a vase with their ball, or injure a sibling with a push. The two year old boy who died after locking himself in the trunk of a car is a tragic example of this truth. It is also important for a toddler to be capable of communicating. They need to identify when they are hurt, what is hurt, when they are lost, who their parents are, etc. In short, we require our toddlers make rapid advances because it is safest for them and those around them. We need them to grow and understand, therefore we require it of them as soon as is reasonable to do so.

To Close

The change in our expectations, from infants to toddlers, is great. However, their supple minds and forgiving spirits help them to cope and learn. This is good because we need them to learn new skills in order to protect them. The world is a dangerous place, especially when one is small, mobile, and has a limited understanding of danger. We need to expect significant growth from our toddlers, for their sake and the sake of those around them.


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