Meet my cute little honey pie 🙂
She turned ONE just a couple of weeks ago and she is officially a pre-toddler now!
This is an interesting season of life as she is no longer a baby but not quite a toddler. She has achieved so many developmental milestones in the past 1 year and will be mastering many more skills in the next coming 6 months!
I looked back at the hundreds of photos taken just weeks ago and thought how much she’s grown since then. (Sob sob)
(At 3 months of age! Her face hasn’t changed!)
My once newborn (it feels just like yesterday!) has cut her first tooth (she still has only two front teeth but boy, they are mighty chompers!), has gone from purely breastmilk to pureed food to eating everything else we are eating and has confidently toddled herself with the help of a cruiser.
I think back of the growth that has happened under my nose and breathed amazement! She started with nursing and now she is drinking her own cow’s milk by the litres! Her little babble even sound like recognisable words and melodious tunes! How we all love and adore our Little Missy!
I immensely enjoy seeing how her little personality has started to surface and how well she has integrated into our family.
I find that I have to have training goals in this pre toddler phase…
Apart from my role in providing her with healthy, varied meals and a consistent routine, I also need to set my sight higher to see what I would like her to be in 6-12 months’ time. I need to begin as I mean to go, and to be careful not to do credit card parenting (consume now pay later!) in that I create behavioural liabilities which I have to make up later because I have lost far too many grounds. (see my post on the funnel part 1 and 2).
Having a flexible rhythm and structure for her day ensures that every member of the family’s needs are met as we strive to be a family that is neither child-centred nor parent-centred, but Christ-centred.
(Siblings enjoying a hearty laugh at an adventure walk!)
Since we lead a busy household with schools and after school activities, an upbeat home life with character studies, chore training, Mummy school, family identity building moments and a vibrant church and school community, I try to stay consistent with the same things we do every week as i find that children thrive on a good predictable routine.
At 12 months old, I am beginning to see Little Missy’s self will emerging, and the fierce protests when her sense of dominion is violated…this is an interesting period for me as I begin to picture myself chasing after her, and being ultra consistent, patient and persistent…
(Everyone on chore time after sports!)
For the next 6 months (12-18 months) my training goals for little Missy are quite simple, yet are fundamental for her success in navigating the terrible Twos.
My first goal is in training her for self control. Self control training sculpts the heart for obedience, contentment and joy!
My aim is to establish my leadership to rule in her life. There will come a time when we will be best friends in life, but for now I need to be her Mum and she needs to be my child. I won’t be able to bring her to her potential if I don’t teach her how to obey me. Out of obedience will flow other virtues that are necessary for her life as a successful adult later on.
When we are talking about the right to rule in our children’s life we are not talking about an oppressive kind of leadership in which Mum is always right and every joy is squelched out of their tiny hearts, but a leadership that is authoritative and one that results in building happy little hearts.
Self control training in her life at this stage entails a couple of practical things.
1) High Chair and Mealtime Training
Mealtime is a good time for self control training and I have to admit that this is one area i need to be consistent about.
I am always tweaking our family routine to ensure that dinner is done better – more smoothly with meaningful interactions between every member but there are days where it is more mayhem rather than peaceful (note: when Mum isn’t prepared and stomachs are hungry or when Mum is too excited to do a million of other things before 5.30!)
But on good days (oh they are increasing by and large:) ), teaching her to sit still on the high chair, with hands not getting into the way of my feeding her, using sign language to signal her requests and then eating what is offered without refusal is a good goal to aim for. It weeds out the fussy eater and the behavioural problems that are associated with mealtimes.
This is also a time to introduce table time – engaging her with a little activity to do on her high chair so she learns to wait while I pick up the mess after the meal.
2) Sleep Training
Nap is determined by me and something that I build into her flexible routine whether or not she is cutting tooth, having colds or find the world more interesting than her cot.
Good daytime nap(s) contribute towards continuous night sleeps and aids in her growth (which is biological) and learning (which is her mental assimilation of understanding the world around her).
(Little Missy falling asleep in Daddy’s arms after a big morning)
3) Playpen Time
Little Missy has been trained to play by herself in the playpen the moment she can sit on her own. There are days when she protests being put there, but on the whole, she is content to play on her own without Mum’s constant stimulation and presence up to 45 minutes twice a day.
The playpen is such a wonderful training place to teach focus, concentration, imagination and self play which is hugely important for school and for building happy little hearts.
It is amazing to learn that children who derive satisfaction in their ability to self play actually grow more confident and happy and perform better in school.
(Little Missy drooling at the sensory tub I created for her older brother for his room time. She couldn’t wait to squeeze all those stretchy little dinosaurs in this made up dino world.)
4) Mat Time Training
Mat time teaches Little Missy to sit on the mat with toys chosen by Mum and not cruising around everywhere, up until the timer rings. This is important especially if our family is to go beyond surviving to thriving with many more little years ahead of us.
This is also important for the years ahead for her to do sit time, reading time on her own and to join the family for Circle Time and Family Devotions.
Every day when I am alone with Little Missy I pray that God may grant me the ability to minister to her little heart and not just ‘amuse’ her. To amuse a child is simply to provide entertainment without much thinking involved in the hope of just distracting her or killing the time, which is fine from time to time, but beyond that, I hope to be a Mum that ministers life to her little heart and provide ample learning opportunities at home.
(This is an example of amusing her! Pulling all my tissue out of the box and finding a one minute entertainment with them while wasting them away completely afterward!)
5) Obedience Training
Teaching her to come to me at the call of her name starts now. Getting her to look at me and to come (or crawl) to me when called will teach her to obey me the first time and tune in to Mum and Dad’s voice wherever she is.
Lastly, I need to be mindful with being directive in my training. She needs to get used to hearing me say NO to a lot of things that she wants to do that are either dangerous or meaningless and no, you don’t need to explain, reason or negotiate with a pre toddler! That would spell catastrophy!
For now, she just needs to be content to follow Mum’s wisdom. And with God’s help, we’re gonna have a lot of fun!