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Tips for supporting an extremely early developing toddler

(16 Posts)
Narkle Fri 18-May-18 18:57:21

Just that, really and not a stealth boast, but needing your top tips.

DS is 1 3/4 years old and securely hits the milestones for 24-36 months in almost every category, some he even exceeeds.

He puts sentences together, can dress and undress himself with coats, trousers and pants and is getting there with t-shirts. He outs his own shoes on. He runs, climbs and jumps around.

He isn't dry yet, but will quite happily use the potty on demand. He is bright and will figure problems out that his 2-year-old peers at nursery struggle with. He has a good idea of numbers up to 10 and is even able to recognise some of them written down.

He also tantrums like crazy, so the hormones are kicking in already.

Essentially, he is a 2.5-year-old trapped in the body of a 1.75-year-old.
I'm wondering how to best support him in this - both his cognitive ability and physical ability are so far advanced, and yet some parts of him aren't quite... ready yet, if that makes sense? He is tiny for his age, too.

What do you do to support yours? Do you just treat them according to their development age, i.e. should I look for games and activities for 2.5-year-olds? Or do I still go with games for his age, which he does enjoy occasionally, but which don't stretch him one tiny bit?

OP’s posts: |
AmazingPostVoices Fri 18-May-18 19:49:48

Be led by the child.

If he enjoys more advanced games go for it.

Goldmandra Sat 19-May-18 20:53:45

It isn't your job to stretch him or compare him to other toddlers.

All you need to do is talk to him, play with him, work out what interests him and give him lots of varied and stimulating life experiences.

If he enjoys games, play them with him. If he doesn't enjoy them don't.

Don't push him or make things hard. Children thrive on feeling successful.

Read books with him and make sure he has lots of opportunities to explore and talk about things.

Letters, numbers, etc are irrelevant. What matters is that he is interested in exploring the world and feels confident enough to keep trying new things.

Greysmum Sat 19-May-18 22:28:43

If he's into games go for it, sounds fun. If he enjoys letters and numbers, have fun with that too. Why not? Sounds like you're wonderfully attentive.

Narkle Sun 20-May-18 07:17:17

It isn't your job to stretch him or compare him to other toddlers.

Sorry, but I heavily disagree with that statement. Of course it's my job to stretch him and comparison is necessary to see whether he is developing the way he should.

Without being stretched he wouldn't progress in his development; he needs new experiences and new challenges all the time. I've noticed that he tantrums a lot more if he doesn't have anything to figure out or anything new to do, almost as if, once a new skill is mastered, he is ready to move on and if I don't keep up, his behaviour gets worse.

Just to pre-empt, that doesn't mean that I constantly over-stimulate him. He is quite happy just to play on his own in his room for an hour and will role-play with dolls, toy food and toy tools, just as much as he will 'read' books, dance to music, jump and climb all over the place.

All you need to do is talk to him, play with him, work out what interests him and give him lots of varied and stimulating life experiences.

And that is exactly what I do. The dilemma (if you can call it such) is more that some of the stuff he wants and needs is just not age-appropriate. For example, when we watch music videos or listen to music in the car, he is not interested in children's songs bar one or two. Instead, he actively asks for Queen and Metallica songs. Some days he wakes up and the first thing he says to me will be "Queen - We will rock you".

And while it's all cute with songs, other things are harder to cater for, because he is still so young and small. Like go on rides or to a trampoline park. He has the height of an average 1-year-old and still fits into 12-18m clothes, so gets refused on H&S grounds. Understandable, but difficult, given how much I know he'd love them. Indoor and outdoor playgrounds work well when there are not many people, but when it's full a lot of children take advantage of his height and push him out of the way. He is too small and gentle to muscle his way through.

Or toys. He has a few toys he loves (guitars, dolls with equipment, his toy kitchen, Lego Duplo), but he prefers playing with toys, which are clearly labelled 3 years+ due to small parts. Do I let him play with them (supervised) or do I follow the guidelines and, essentially, hold him back?

Like I said, he is starting to recognise numbers written down. He points them out to me in shops and around our home. So does that mean he is starting to make a connection between written symbols and letters, too, and I should encourage him to 'read' (not proper reading yet, but just the concepts of a few words sounds frighteningly wrong with a child that young)? We read books all the time and he will talk along and point at things and tell me what they are, or remember passages from (simple - like Little Princess) books and talk along.

The funny thing is that he's my third. First child was developing age-appropriately, second was a little advanced (but has Asperger's, so struggles socially), but his development is just off the chart and I feel a bit like a first-time mum again.

OP’s posts: |
Greysmum Sun 20-May-18 08:21:33

I've seen a lot of reports about not introducing kids to 'formal learning' too early so there is a culture of parents who think letters, words, numbers etc are bad for young children. Personally, I don't understand it. If your kid enjoys letter recognition then I'd say run with it, it's skills he's inevitably going to need. We did this with my son, we put (lowercase) foam letters in his bath and he could recognise them before he was 2 (even before he would talk). He's a confident and happy reader, loves writing and drawing. But yes, he gets bored and I find he becomes under stimulated without his outlets.
I do recognise age appropriateness as a problem. My son is into Lego Batman but the actual Batman stories are dark and violent. Thankfully Lego manages to dilute this somehow.
Not sure if I can offer advice especially if you have 2 other kids and their toys are around.

FoxgloveStar Sun 20-May-18 08:56:46

I have a little smarty pants two year old. He is also physically big and confident. We enjoy doing things with him that he is obviously very good at for his age (50 piece puzzle???). And also spend time doing things he is dragging with (not interested in drawing). Make sure you get lots of social play in. Also spend time outside. I let DS play with any toy (3+) as he’s sensible and just make sure he doesn’t put in his mouth (the toy teapot is just the right shape to help teethe out that last molar though). You can also spend time doing things he won’t get so much of at school - eg music, dance, gymnastics, cooking etc. I feel I we could probably blitz learning the alphabet and numbers in a week or two but instead he’s learned types of birds and the solar system.

If you are getting lots of tantrums already then it seems you could spend some time helping him work through those and coping with his emotions.

Some things to aim for if you get stuck:

- learn 10 types of bird
- learn to count things
- forward roll
- jumping
- sing a nursery rhyme
- stand on one foot

FoxgloveStar Sun 20-May-18 09:20:47

Should have said DS is two in a few weeks, so similar age.

Goldmandra Sun 20-May-18 09:24:13

Children are programmed to learn. They do it whether you push them or not. What they need is adults who provide opportunities, resources, conversations and enthusiasm. Pushing and stretching a toddler is unnecessary and risks making them feel unsuccessful, negatively affecting that drive to learn.

Letter and numbers aren’t bad for them but they aren’t any more important than nursery rhymes, pop songs or the names of their favourite tv characters.

Just do the things he enjoys with him and take pleasure in watching home discover the world. He will naturally chose activities that support the skills he is developing so follow his lead. He is his own most competent teacher.

Camomila Thu 24-May-18 16:50:01

DS (just turned two) has lots of age 3plus toys, I would use your own judgement on what he can play with.
Ie. DS has a brio train track and trains which is three plus, it’s no more dangerous than other wooden toys he has aged 18 months plus so it stays out all the time. OTOH he has a tiny magnetic puzzle thing, that only gets played with with me and then gets put straight back in the cupboard otherwise.

You could get some musical instruments (something cheap like a kids glockenspiel or a plastic toy recorder) and play with them, it’d be a challenge but fun and safe.

How are his fine motor skills? My DSs gross motor skills are quite a bit ahead of his fine motor skills (very common in boys) so I work on that a fair bit...mainly with play dough or by getting out the paints and stencils.

Narkle Tue 29-May-18 13:15:56

Thank you for the suggestions; his fine motor skills are also ahead, but play dough etc. are a good idea. We made Christmas decorations with sequins at age 1 and he hasn't shown the desire to either eat the glue or the sequins, so we do lots of craft-related activities already.

He likes music and anything sound-related (already has a xylophone and a few percussion instruments) and has also started showing a massive interest in anything mechanical, so we will explore that end, too. Thank you again!

OP’s posts: |
blinkineckmum Thu 31-May-18 05:58:47

My ds was tiny but academically very ahead. He used to chat away to people in shops and they were very confused about his age. I just kept moving him on to the next thing. When he mastered 20 piece puzzles I bought some 50 piece puzzles etc.
He is 4 now and preschool said he's streets ahead academically, but emotionally not so.

chocnvino Fri 01-Jun-18 06:33:12

he sounds lovely but pretty normal to me. confused

Mine was like that and I wouldn't have considered her significantly ahead. Children develop differently and what you describe is far from unusual. He sounds lovely and bright...Just take his lead but don't become obsessed by how far he is ahead (he really is not).

corythatwas Fri 01-Jun-18 11:07:30

I think other posters have a point in that toddlers are geared to learn and that most things you do with him will make him stretch himself according to full capacity. He sounds great fun and you sound as if you are already doing a lot.

I wouldn't worry about things like Lego: the guidelines are ridiculously cautious, nothing to do with actual child development, but only to do with their quite understandable fear of being sued. Most experienced parents work out what their individual child is able to do and then just take it from there.

As for rides, again it's about companies needing to protect themselves. Also does no harm to children's development to learn that sometimes you simply have to follow rules. And it's fun finally being old enough for something you have wanted for a long time.

Queen and Metallica are not milestones. I think there is a risk as new parents of seeing everything in your child's life as milestones that they have to reach and then pass as quickly as possible. This can lead to a quite joyless attitude by the time they get to school and start missing out on real learning opportunities because they decide that activities that have been put in place for specific learning goals are "babyish". Avoid this mindset. Great musicians enjoy nursery rhymes. If he doesn't, that's fine. But it's not proof of maturity. And he may well come to enjoy them when he is more mature. In any case, don't feed him or yourself the idea that learning is a linear path.

Narkle Sat 02-Jun-18 09:40:55

chocnvino I'm going by what the nursery said and assess him at; I'm not arrogant enough to believe that the sun shines out of my children's backsides at every opportunity ;-) And according to their opionion of working with hundereds of children over time (and the milestones they assess him against occording to the EYFS) he IS miles ahead.

I work in education and know that skills aren't linear (even if the current system would like us to think differently). I was more worried about striking the right balance and activities which stretch him enough, but are safe to do for him and his age.

I'm a little less cautious about things now after reading your responses. Things like allowing him to feed animals on a farm (where before I would have hesitated for fear of his little fingers getting bitten), which we did yesterday, and encouraging his number reading, which still feels wrong, but is something he likes doing.

Of course his taste in music is not a milestone hmm, my concern there were more the lyrics that often go with errm... traditional rock music grin. I noticed that when my oldest started singing along to pop music aged 6 or 7 and so many things just sounded so wrong coming out of the mouth of a child.

OP’s posts: |
Goldmandra Sun 03-Jun-18 14:57:22

so many things just sounded so wrong coming out of the mouth of a child.

Children sing along to the things they hear most so play the music around him that you want him to hear. It doesn't matter if it's nursery rhymes, heavy metal or Rachmaninoff. They enjoy what's familiar.

My DD1 was unusual in her development too. She was talking in sentences on her first birthday and taught herself to read before she was 2 1/2. It was related to her Asperger's and it became apparent as she got older that she needed support with her gross motor skills and social skills.

If you really feel the need to influence his development, rather than just supporting and following his interests, focus more on where he is not so developing so quickly so as to even out his profile. That will help him far more than trying to stretch him in an area where he is already proficient in comparison with his peers.

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