7 Skills Every Toddler Should Have

In the beginning of our relationship, my husband and I talked about whether we wanted kids and how many. We both agreed two or three would be a good number for us and we can re-assess once we’re parents. It took about two years after having Sophie to be brave enough to realize I can go through another pregnancy. We’re not sure when, but we’ve decided that it is important to us to give her a sibling. Being the overly prepared Girl Scout that I am, I’ve thought endlessly about what age Sophie should be when we have our second child, what time of year I’d like to have the baby and financially what makes the most sense. My biggest concern was making sure Sophie wasn’t rushed out of being ‘the baby’. I wanted her to want to be the big helper once her sibling comes along rather than feel rejected. I’m positive she’ll feel jealous at times but spreading their ages apart makes us more confident in her approach to the new situation.

7 skills every toddler should know

We also kept in mind the difficulty of taking care of two children who need constant supervision. I wrote down the skills that I wanted to make sure Sophie possessed before we had our second baby.

7 Skills Every Toddler Should Have

  1. Self Soothing- When your child is a baby, you taught him how to self sooth through the night. When they’re toddlers, they may need a refresher course on how to find their ‘happy place.’ Maybe having a calm spot to snuggle, a favorite song to sing or a blanket to hold will be what they need to settle down. Being a toddler is rough. Not knowing how to communicate feelings, or worse, not knowing why these feelings are happening is frightening. Help them to re-learn how to self sooth and you’ll both be happier.Self Soothing Toddler
  2. Mini Chores- I think mini chores are a really fun part of toddler-hood. They’re so eager to help mom and dad at this age, so let them! We often let Sophie help make dinner which results in her eating more food. She is able to chop fruits and veggies, measure, mix and pour ingredients. For her birthday we asked for mini-tools so she helps us rake leaves and sweep the floor. Although a task may take a little longer for us to complete, it helps her see that we help each other and clean up after ourselves.
  3. Staying in a Designated Area- I learned the importance of this crucial skill last summer when I cut my foot while cooking in the kitchen. I was so thankful she listened when I told her to stay put because there was broken glass on the floor. It’s also important when telling our kids to stop before running into the street or to stay away from a hot oven. They’ll understand to trust us when we urge them to stay away from danger, such as entering a sleeping baby’s room.
  4. Self Eating- Having to feed two kids just seems like a nightmare. We’ve worked with Sophie to let us know when she’s hungry, choosing what she wants to eat and taking her dishes to the dishwasher. Having her vocalize that she’s hungry helps to prevent melt downs. She makes messes constantly but she knows to wipe up after herself or ask for help if the task is too large. Self Eating Toddler
  5. Object Identification and Retrieval- This is most helpful when we’re trying to get out the door for school in the morning. Asking her to pick out her outfit helps her understand that she has choices and we respect her choices. Knowing how to pick up her toys and throw them in the bin before bed is a huge help and will be even more important when there is a baby taste testing everything on the floor. I’m especially looking forward to her running upstairs to grab a diaper if there aren’t any downstairs when I need to change the baby.
  6. Independent Play- Independent play is currently our biggest challenge. Sophie is very much like me, in that she enjoys interaction with people, at the very least being next to someone at all times. We made the difficult decision to enroll her into Montessori schooling to encourage independence on a higher level. She’s excellent at working on her own projects at school but once she is home with us she has a difficult time being alone. I’ve been suggesting reading a book or working on a puzzle before coming to do an activity with me which works about half the time. There’s a fine line between making a toddler feel rejected vs encouraging them to try something on their own.Toddler Independent Play
  7. Self Awareness- Knowing their own strength is immensely important when it comes to physical contact between your toddler and your baby. Much like teaching a child the difference between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ texture, you can demonstrate ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ force. Sophie is currently learning this lesson as she often knocks over her friends while hugging them too hard. We’re teaching her that it’s ok to wrestle and hug rough with family but to be gentle with friends.

How far apart are your children? What ‘big sibling’ skills are you glad you taught your oldest before having your baby?

7 skills your toddler should have

4 thoughts on “7 Skills Every Toddler Should Have

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you on all of these points, especially being self-soothing, being independent, and being able to follow directions (like not running away into the street while you’re attending to the little one). I also had the goal that J be out of diapers before our second was born. It was nice having a break from diapers, even if for only 2 months, before the onslaught of 12 diapers a day came along! So, J was 3 when O was born. I think it’s a perfect age. J still gave me the cold shoulder when O was born, but it went away pretty quickly and now, we’re like two peas in a pod again.

    You might also see that the kids (both!) become more independent with one another around. It was also inevitable (and we made a more conscious effort to) get O independent earlier, like leaving her alone in her bassinet for 15 minutes or so if she wasn’t fussy and like when J really wanted to do an activity, just mom and him. They shared a room for almost a year, so it was great waking up to hear them “talking” to each other or J reading a book next to her crib or handing her toys. Now that she’s 2.5 and sleeping in her own room, she’ll still go to his room in the morning and they’ll read or play together.

    Sure, there are times (mostly the evenings after school) where they’re dying for your attention but usually, they’re ok playing together. And J still likes to play by himself at times too.

    Anywho, whenever you decide to have another kid, I’m sure Sophie will be ready!
    lisacng @ expandng.com recently posted…Spring cravingsMy Profile

    1. I LOVE the dynamic between O and J! It’s so heart warming! We’ll be bunking our kids as well which is a foreign concept to me but I’m excited to have them share a room. 🙂 I’m hoping they’ll both like playing side by side but independent of each other like you said.

  2. I’m going through that same decision-making as you! I’ve always known I wanted two children (or at least two). I imagined that they would be about 5 years apart like my sister and I, though now I know I want them to (hopefully) be closer in age. Now that Eve is over two, I’ve been thinking more seriously about it. I hadn’t really thought about what skills she should have, but this is a fantastic list! I hadn’t thought about having Eve pick out her clothes herself, though I do give her choices which I think she seems to appreciate, and I try to honor her requests when she doesn’t want to wear something (unless it’s for weather-reasons). I try to involve her in cooking and she’s even started to help empty the dishwasher on her own when she seems me or my husband doing it!
    Bev recently posted…The easiest pick-me-up you’re missing in your dayMy Profile

    1. She will be a GREAT helper! I see how she helps you and likes to be involved in things that you’re doing but can also do her own thing! I used to give Sophie two choices between outfits but she’d always just push them aside and get in the drawers saying ‘I do it.’ 😉

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