The transition from baby to toddler encompasses a variety of changes, and the top of toddlers’ targets is to explore the world they live in, and rightly so.
As little ones grow and become more independent they have a natural curiosity and appetite to explore. These early adventures are an important part of their journey, helping them learn about themselves and the world around them.
In association with Organix Goodies, the organic toddler food brand, Chartered Clinical Psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin has worked alongside to develop the Explore with Goodies campaign. The campaign provides inspiration and reasons to explore whilst supporting parents through this time, and is full of imaginative activities for parents and toddlers. But before providing inspiration, the mechanics of child psychology has to be examined, this is why Dr Rudkin has been brought on board to question why children do the things they do.
Stripping back the notion of exploration leads to love of good food remaining at the core, “From exploring the great outdoors and nature, to growing your own food, trying new foods and celebrating food, they’re all designed to help your little one develop great foundations for a lifelong love of good food,” says Dr Rudkin. A healthy relationship with food is a massive segment in a child’s development, which is why Organix has carried out this vital research for parents. Exploring food can set up positive attitudes and behaviours. “Toddlers like to choose, so offer a range of foods through which you can encourage curiosity and confidence to try,” recommends Dr Rudkin. “Keep offering different textures, tastes, colours and smells as these will all capture toddlers’ attention.”
Exploring for toddlers is all about finding and developing their independence. “It’s the time for them to advance from being a baby, to moving around, developing their sense of self, independence and finding out about surroundings and social relationships.” Looking at the foundations of a toddler’s newfound existence, it’s apparent that exploring is the main way they learn about the world around them, utilising their abilities of moving and talking along the way. And that continues well into adulthood; exploration is at the crux of learning. Toddlers will soon learn what they can and can’t do by getting feedback from adults about whether their actions were right or wrong. “Children begin to learn to deal with being told ‘no’, coping with the shame this brings, and moving on, but in the same respect they realise they have the language to say what they want,” says Dr Rudkin. A toddler will relentlessly ask questions, this is just a child’s way of exploring through inquisition.
As modern parents, certain lifestyle trends are having an impact on our ability to help little ones explore. The Explore with Goodies campaign highlights these trends, and provides solutions on how parents can support their toddlers during this transitional time. For example, parents need to recognise the lack of risk taking in everyday life; we are spending less time outdoors than ever before! This is due to time pressures, the lure of technology and the risks that playing outdoors advocates. Dr Rudkin emphasises that by not experiencing risk as toddlers, children will be less able to manage risk in later life. “We live in a risk-averse age, and clear messages of danger will impact on willingness to explore. ‘Helicopter parenting’ is a term used to describe parents who hover over their children to avoid accidents,” explains Dr Rudkin.
Understanding a toddler’s desires is imperative, and a parent’s role within this is to be the safe base that your toddler will explore from, Dr Rudkin refers to this as a ‘basecamp’. Creating a nurturing, supportive basecamp will enable toddlers to learn. “When a parent takes on this role, it means communicating clear boundaries and saying ‘no’ when needed, but also smiling encouragingly when a toddler wanders off – putting their needs above their own,” states Dr Rudkin.
A term many of us are familiar with is the ‘terrible twos’, a stage when toddlers are taking the first steps into independence. It’s a big change for everyone; parents are used to having a relatively compliant, helpless baby, but now need to manage a growing toddler who has ideas of their own and the abilities to act on these. “The clash of what a parent wants and what a toddler wants can lead to arguments and tantrums,” explains Dr Rudkin. “By picking their battles, parents can avoid spending all day saying no and clashing with their toddler.” The Explore campaign highlights that looking at life from a child’s perspective will allow for great exploration. It’s only a small step to take to imagine what it’s like for your toddler.
[pull_quote_center]Understanding a toddler’s desires is imperative, and a parent’s role within this is to be the safe base that your toddler will explore from.[/pull_quote_center]
It’s no surprise that growing with your child is sometimes a challenge, but this is overpowered by the joy it brings. Being a parent of a toddler requires different skills to being a parent of a little baby. Understanding and knowledge of toddlers’ development can help you to get through this stage with confidence, finding ways to celebrate the little steps and ‘wow’ moments with your child. After all, isn’t this what it’s all about… ✿
The Benefits of Raising an Explorative Child
With the help of Dr Rudkin, Organix Goodies has put together five wider and long-term benefits of exploring.
When toddlers explore they are creating millions of new connections in their brains which will impact on how they learn and think about things later in life. By exploring these new connections means that a toddler grows up to be more creative, happier to move out of their comfort zone and be more willing to take risks.
2. Problem Solving
Bringing two things together to build something and achieving a goal are just a few of the experiences that exploring brings, all of which help to develop a robust sense of self-identity, self-esteem and self-confidence. Exploring from a young age within a safe and loving environment, with positive feedback, will encourage curiosity, creativity and problem solving.
3. Social Relationships
Exploring means that the toddler starts to learn about how the world works. Exploring through role play is an example of how a toddler can act ‘as if’, and by doing so, learn what it feels like to be different people in different situations (e.g. being mummy or daddy, a fire fighter, a princess or a pirate).
We learn a lot more when we experience something compared to when we are told about something. We tend to parent the way we were parented, so by being allowed to explore, a toddler will grow into an adult who is happier to let their own toddler explore.
5. Self Regulation
Only by being given the freedom to explore will a toddler learn to eventually regulate their own behaviour rather than depending on an adult. This is best done when a toddler can explore from a warm, understanding and facilitative relationship with their parents.
The Explore with Goodies hub on the Organix website www.organix.com/explore has great activity sheets to download for exploring with little ones. From mid-June, there will also be an on-pack promotion to collect tokens for an explorer pack when you buy selected packs of Organix Goodies. Each pack contains a wall chart and stickers to record and reward adventures, a special explorer badge, seeds to grow food and much more.
No Junk Promise Organix Goodies stick by their ‘No Junk Promise’ across all of their foods, so rest assured what goes in those little mouths is always organic, with nothing unnecessary added, setting the standards in foods for children – exploring food the safe way.