Children time to make something
The world of the newborn is a kaleidoscope of feelings, sights, sounds, and smells. Though some babies quickly develop predictable feeding and sleeping patterns, this can take quite a bit of time for most newborns. In fact, moving from alert to sleep can be an arduous affair in spite of loving efforts to soothe a baby.
For the first six months or so, you are helping the baby make order out of chaos. Consistent responsive interactions (like being fed when hungry and soothed when upset) helps babies organize themselves. Reading babies’ cues and responding to their signals builds a sense of trust. A multitude of nurturing moments helps babies’ natural body rhythms and schedules take shape. Loving relationships are formed and life becomes a more predictable pattern of people, things, and events.
Recognize Family Style
Predictability and things that are consistent each and every day (like night follows day and day follows night) are the foundations for a baby’s understanding of time. Each family has their own way of using time, and babies adapt to the family’s style, whether that be a style of always “on time,” or more casual and less focused on the clock. Babies also bring their own temperament or personality to the family, adding another voice to what will happen and when.
Add Flexibility to Routines
Although toddlers can’t tell time, it is quite remarkable how they develop a sense of order through repeated routines. You can remain flexible while respecting the toddler’s need for routines. Don’t let the daily schedule be a rigid time clock. It can be changed to meet the evolving needs of growing toddlers as long as the sequence remains the same. For example, 15-month-old Sammy is moving to one long nap instead of two. As a result, he is tired earlier in the day. Lunch is moved up so he can be sure to eat before he sleeps. The events of the morning continue to follow the same sequence of play, snack, outdoors, and lunch. But each is slightly shortened. None of the toddlers are confused by the change, because their routine remains the same.
Toddlers and 2-year-olds have all the time in the world. Adults never have enough. Respect the toddler’s position, even though it is unrealistic. The young child’s drive to learn is strong and urgent. When you must interrupt a child’s activities, give him time to adjust to the idea. Adults tend to try and stick to the clock. We try to keep toddlers “on time.” Going with their timeless pulse of activity whenever possible makes life more enjoyable and enriched for all concerned.