It’s Toddlers on the Loose!

The Challenging Transition from Baby to Toddler

by Morra Aarons Mele

The leap to toddlerhood is both thrilling and upsetting for a parent. Your baby clearly has a mind of his own: you can see the wheels turning in his head 24-7. Little babies are cute but their repertoire is limited. But for a toddler, each day brings something new to learn.

As a young parent working with Ellen Galinsky on Mind in the Making, I sometimes take the life skills to heart a little too much.

For instance, I breathlessly reported to Ellen that my 14 month old was clearly making connections: when he heard a phone ring, or even the sound of my text message chiming, he put his hand to his ear to mimic the phone. I was so proud of my clearly brilliant son and his ability to make rather abstract connections for one his age: connecting the bell of an incoming text message with talking on the phone. Literally the same day I bragged to Ellen, my husband called to tell me our son had an ear infection and that’s why he was touching his ear!! The mommy guilt I felt was astounding.

But mostly, using the skills in Mind in the Making gives me more joy and patience as a mom. It’s almost as if I have a new language with which to interpret my son’s needs.

Life for a toddler is clearly very challenging. My son faces many frustrations and he has no language to communicate them with. He wants to be independent; he needs mommy. We’ll be in the grocery store, and all of a sudden he’ll simply have to get out of the shopping cart to walk on his own. I’ll put him down to walk…but he won’t follow me. I get frustrated. He gets frustrated because often, torn between his desire to explore and be independent and his limitations as a new walker, he’ll just freeze in the middle of an aisle, close to a meltdown. My challenge as his parent is to interpret which challenge he can face alone, and when he needs to be picked up, hugged, and put back in the cart.

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Image source: via Google Images