With no time to spare, you and your 2-year-old briskly walk the last block to the bus stop, on your way to a doctor's appointment. Just 10 yards before you reach the corner, she sights a ladybug and instantly squats into her investigative pose. Your toddler's curiosity has her riveted to the spot.
Despite your best intentions, no amount of pleading or explaining is going to make her budge. "A 2- or 3-year-old isn't going to understand that the next bus won't arrive for another hour, or that the movie will start without you," says Dr. Desmond Kelly, medical director of developmental pediatrics at Children's Hospital, in Greenville, S.C. The solution? Look at the problem from your child's perspective.A matter of time: A toddler has little concept of time, and her view of the world, while expanding, is still egocentric. She'll work on a skill - like buttoning her button - over and over again. "She's not dawdling," says Dr. Alice Sterling Honig, professor emerita of child development at Syracuse University, "she's working hard."
Beat the clock: To avoid delays, Dr. Kelly suggests that, when possible, you plan rather than punt. Danielle Frese, a mom in Watkins, Iowa, makes a point of starting 2-year-old Jonathan's day by appointing him her helper, a role in which he rarely dawdles.
This article first appeared in Parenting magazine.
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