Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tips for Toddlers

You can drag the children to church but you can't make them listen-unless you are prepared.  ~LaVern Parmalee

There comes a time, (pretty darn quick!) when most small children will no longer be content just observing the sights and sounds around them.  We've all seen children being allowed the freedom to run about willy nilly in church meetings, waiting rooms, restaurants, grocery stores, etc.  Now so common a sight, this behavior may have actually become accepted into our society.  However, I don't think this is good and can actually be injurious to the child in question, (and unpleasant to watch by others).  And as far as meetings go, unruly toddlers are distracting to the speaker and to the audience.  

Though we are tolerant with families of small children, the parents (please note I did not say the oldest child--emphasis on "child") should be making some effort to deal with the situation instead of ignoring their children, as is so often the case nowadays.  Taking a few extra precautions will make things go a little more smoothly.  If you are very sensitive to what I have stated so far, then you are probably not who I am talking about because most people who have this issue seem to be quite oblivious.  By I'll persevere anyway. 

While reading an old article in my churches' magazine (Ann Stoddard Reese, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Jan. 1977, 75), I was reminded of the many things my husband and I would be prepared to do to make outings with our littles ones much more pleasant for everyone concerned.  I made paper dolls, but out of cloth so they were soft and quiet and pretty much indestructible, and I used Velcro cut into tiny squares hand sewn onto the body and clothes to keep the clothes on.  I also sewed a giant quiet book that taught skills such as tying, zipping and buttoning.  It also taught shapes, colors, etc.  These can be bought already made at book stores.  They were just some of the quiet toys that we only used at church or other public places and were rotated out often to be disinfected and to give the children a chance to play with other quiet toys.  The items were kept in a special bag used only for these "quiet" occasions.  

My children were also taught the difference between a indoor voice and outdoor voice, a quiet voice and a loud voice, a whisper and a yell.  Yes, these must be taught!  And I learned so much from the other families with young children with whom we associated.  They had lots of good ideas.  One that was the most helpful, was to give my 3-yr. old a five-minute warning before we had to do whatever it was that the child would probably have a fit over (such as leaving playtime at preschool or the church nursery).  

An idea from the article that I have seen be very successful is to reserve the back row of the women's classroom at church for the mothers with small children.  ...(And parents--for Heaven's sake, do not change your child's poopee diaper right there in the church meeting--ICK!)...  The chairs in the meeting should be set up so that the mothers can take their children from the back row out of the room, in case their child is causing a disturbance.  My husband and I really enjoyed our children's toddlerhood and when the time finally came, we would often spend time playing with the children in nursery and participating in their activities.  This helped the transition from our knee to nursery class a little smoother. 

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