The toddler stage is the time between infancy and childhood when a child learns and grows in many ways. The toddler stage is crucial in a child’s life. With each stage or skill a toddler masters, a new stage begins. During the toddler stage, most children learn to walk, talk, solve problems, relate to others, and more. The best way to understand toddlers is through observation. Through observation I was able to uncover and attempt to understand the life of a toddler. The boy I observed was a 16-month-old boy named Ian. Ian has blonde hair, blue eyes, and is around a standing 2 1/2 –3 feet. I went to Rumford Daycare to observe Ian early in the afternoon. When I first walked into the daycare I noticed that bulletin boards and other wall decorations were bright and vibrant with color. In the background was music playing, mostly nursery rhyme songs. On the left side in a corner there were mirrors and dress up clothes that the children can put on. In another corner are books and a cassette player, so the children can read along with the cassettes. On the floor was a large carpet for the children to lie down on as well. In the middle of the room was a water table with little toy boats and ducks. There was also a table with rice. The rice however is dyed different colors going along with the Easter theme. I took interest to the room right away, never mind a toddler. I first met Ian and he was at the water table with two other boys. They were splashing around making a mess. Ian was rather amused with a toy boat in the water. He seemed to like to crash his toy boat into the other boy’s toy boat causing the water to splash up everywhere. The other boy became frustrated and took Ian’s boat. Ian took the boat out of the boy’s hands and screamed “Mine!” Toddlers have difficulty sharing toys and want to be independent. Ian proved this particularly during snack time. Ian brought his own snack, a chocolate pudding and an apple juice. I noticed he had trouble opening
his pudding with his tiny fingers. I decided to help him out. This was a mistake, he started crying and took the pudding away from me screaming, “No, I do!” After many attempts he allowed me to help him open it just a portion of the way and the rest he did on his own. While Ian was eating he decided he wanted to share how good his pudding was with me. He took his spoon and held it up to my mouth and would not stop until I tried his pudding. However, I retrieved my own spoon from one of the employees Rachel. Somehow Ian managed to spill chocolate all over his white t-shirt and all over his face. He even managed to spill some on my jeans. Ian couldn’t sit still during snack time; he continuously kept getting up and running over to the water table. Rachel, the teacher had to keep going over to him and telling him calmly to sit back down to finish his snack. Once snack was finished it was time for story time. Ian was certainly not in the mood for listening to any kind of stories. Instead he ran around the room going from the water table, then to the dress up corner. Rachel attempted to sit him back down but realized she had to choose her battles. While most of the other children were listening to a story, Ian and another boy were playing dress up. Ian put on a plastic fire hat and a tiny yellow jacket that said fireman on the back of it. He then sat in a chair and pretended to drive a fire truck. Once he was through being a fireman he then went onto putting on an apron. He turned around for me to tie the apron in the back. I found this pretty amusing. He pretended to cook on the play kitchen set. He then took the plastic hamburger and put it in my hand saying “Eat.” I proceeded to play in return and pretended to take a bite. Ian smiled and took the hamburger away from me. He then ran up to Rachel who was
reading and stuffed the hamburger in her face, saying “Eat!” Rachel smiled and did as she was told; then she calmly told him he needed to stay in one place and not interrupt. Ian showed characteristics of any normal toddler. One major task for a toddler is to learn to be independent. That is why toddlers want to do things for themselves and want to prove to adults that they too can do the same tasks. Toddlers are long on will and short on skill. This is why they are often frustrated and “misbehave.” Ian showed me he wanted to be independent by crying during snack time and saying “I do!” Toddlers are
also usually poor at sharing with others as well. Ian grabbed the toy boat from another boy while they were playing and screamed “Mine!” This was a perfect example of toddler behavior. Since toddlers only care about their own needs, they only act the way they do because their needs are not being met. Toddlers can be a handful but should be an enjoyment. They are just going through a process where their world is only about themselves and development both physically and mentally is taking place. There is so much learning and discovering going on. It is important for parents and teachers to make sure the needs and proper development of the child is being met.
Melissa Maxwell March 20, 2005 Child Growth & Dev. Toddler Observation