The Science of Parenting

Toddlers | S.5 Ep. 3

April 22, 2021 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Season 5 Episode 3
The Science of Parenting
Toddlers | S.5 Ep. 3
Show Notes Transcript

The toddler years will be a ride! Tap into your child’s curiosity by rediscovering common experiences your child will find magic—like a bus ride.

Send us an email: parenting@iastate.edu.
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This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Mackenzie Johnson:

Hey, welcome to The Science of Parenting podcast where we connect you with research based information that fits your family. We'll talk about the realities of being a parent, and how research can help guide our parenting decisions. I'm Mackenzie Johnson, parent of two littles with their own quirks. And I'm a parenting educator.

Lori Korthals:

And I'm Lori Korthals, parent of three in three different life stages. One is launched, one is in college, and one is in high school. We're going to have to change that intro. Anyway, here we are in season five. And we are still talking about developmental milestones this week, specifically on parenting toddlers.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, we're going to look at the research and reality around toddlers and parenting them. What that takes, and we're going to talk a little bit about their milestones or the things that we can typically expect kids to be able to do by a certain age. But we always want to give the disclaimer that we know kids develop at their own rate. And so some kids are early, some kids are kind of right on time, and some kids happen a little later. I've had some of each. My kids were not all one or the other.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. So we've got a mix. And so we just want to let you know that our role today is we're going to be sharing some of that generic information about parenting toddlers, but that you are the expert on your kids. And so we're going to provide the research based information and you can use that information to make your own decisions.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, and please do recognize that there are other factors that impact our children's rate of growth and development. One of those being temperament. We talked all about it in season three. And you can go back and listen to those episodes and find out how temperament plays into play activities, milestones, and characteristics that our children exhibit, right? Additionally, we have environment that impacts our children's growth and development. The adults in their lives, the genetics that they came with. So many different things impact. So we do want you to know that if you have concerns about your child's development, we recommend that you talk with your child's health care provider, or a local Area Education Agency.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, lots of great resources to tap into. We're going to share information. But there's all kinds of great support on this.

Lori Korthals:

There is so let's first kick off today by defining this age of toddlers. So we're using the CDC, Center for Disease Control, website. And their definition for a toddler is a child between the ages of one year to three years. So that 12 to 36 months.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, and again, we talked about this last time there is some debate across fields, whether these stages of toddler versus infant versus preschooler or early childhood. Are they defined by age, right? Or are they defined by like a milestone or developmental marker? In this case, I told you I'd leave you in suspense last week, some would argue that toddler starts when kids start walking. Like Lori actually mentioned that like, Oh, I just think of them different. But we know infants' skills, like their other skills besides walking, can still be more infant than toddler. So it's the whole thing. But there is some debate. And I specifically remember one thing that really fascinated me about learning about toddlers in a developmental psychology course that I took, was that as parents, once our kids start to walk, we change our expectations, right? We suddenly are more ready to hold them accountable. So when they're digging into something they're not supposed to, once they start walking, we're like, whoa, hey, you're in charge of your body. Now stop. Don't do that. Right. And all of a sudden this idea of punishment and discipline and good behavior and bad behavior, it's a very different conversation than before they were walking when we definitely considered them infants. And so that's just like an interesting thing about infants versus toddlers. Once they walk, we think of them differently.

Lori Korthals:

We do. Even if we're not trying to, it just happens. It does. Yes. So okay, so is that kind of how you think of toddlerhood then?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, okay. Honestly, the words that come to mind when you're like, oh, parenting toddlers, I'm like, tantrums and choices. And I feel like when I say it, it sounds like a negative term like, but tantrums are just the reality of having toddlers and we're gonna talk about how that fits into their emotional development and their cognitive development and social, whatever. Yeah, but I think of tantrums with toddlers. And then I think as a parent, that's the word. And having a toddler right now myself that when things are hard and when they're in the middle of a challenging moment, I'm like, okay, choices. That's almost like my little word I cling to you like, okay, you can choose this cup or that cup? You can choose whether you're going to get down or whether I'm going to help you down. Yes. Yes. So that's what I think of. What do you think of when you think of toddlers?

Lori Korthals:

I adore talking about toddlers because of their brains. And you know me, I love brain development. I love temperament. And to me, toddlerhood is about literally, the brain changing every day. Every day there's a new piece of the brain that has a connection. And so I remember talking to parents and them saying, who is this child that just woke up this morning? I do not know this child. Where did my sweet angel go? And I'm like, isn't that wonderful? Their brain grew overnight. They look at me with this blank stare like, lady? That's it to me. Toddlerhood is science class 24/7, right? What is what is going on? What? How? Why does this do this? How can I make this happen? This is mine. I want to do it. Yeah. All those things.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So good. Yes, toddlers are science class. That's so right.

Lori Korthals:

Yes. Well, okay, so let's look at the different changes that happen in toddlerhood. I love what you said last week about categories. So we're gonna look at these different categories, or domains is kind of the research term, that we think of when children move through the ages, these commonly experienced milestones that we refer to, right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. So these developmental domains, and again, like we did last week, and we'll do in the coming episodes, we're going to talk very broad terms of development. We're not going to talk your child should say this many words by this age, or we're not talking about any of that. But the great news is, if you came here looking for that, we've got a great resource for you. The CDC has an app called Milestones. And yeah, talked about it last time, I won't go on and on. But it can help you kind of recognize if you have concerns about your toddler, look for red flags, or maybe my child is just kind of a little bit later in their development. It'll help you decipher some of those super specific things. So a great resource if you're looking for some of those more specific things you're wondering if your child should be able to do.

Lori Korthals:

Exactly. Alright, so the first domain or category that we're going to look at is physical. And like you mentioned, Mackenzie, you know, it seems like as soon as our child starts walking, we begin to think of them differently. And interestingly enough, when we look at movement or motor development, this brings children into different situations, right? Because now they can move over to that really interesting plant with the dirt, right, they can run away from you when they couldn't before. They can climb and jump and get places where you just maybe weren't quite prepared for all of that movements at such an early age. Right? So that's one category.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And that ties right in with some of the cognitive things that are happening. So they have these new physical skills. And we talked about with older infants last week, how they, well, Piaget is the theorist where a lot of this comes from, but this idea of being more coordinated to manipulate the world, right. Our older infants are like, I can reach for that, and this thing will happen. Or if I drop this, this might happen. Also a good science experiment, right? If I dropped this, I dropped this. So live that life with my toddler.

Lori Korthals:

What is the law of gravity?

Mackenzie Johnson:

But also as they move further and as they get a little older, toddlers, we know that they can use their body to now solve new problems. And so I even think of like, something on the table that my toddler can't reach. It's like, oh, they're reaching for it. And you know what, if I pull on the table runner, that object comes right along with it, right? And so they're really learning not only that they can impact the world. But also I can use my body to achieve the goals that I want. So they do, they do more problem solving with their bodies, and all that stuff with the cognitive abilities. And another thing that's interesting is their memory and their attention span both increase, right, as infants. A lot of times we say when I was a new parent, it's a good thing that I don't remember because I didn't know what I was doing. But as toddlers, and again, they're not gonna remember anything, you know, nothing too crazy, but their memory does start to increase a little bit, which is why they can start to retain words and things. And then also their attention span gets a little longer. But I mean, we're not talking like 20 minutes circle time, or 10 minute book or a little more attention than just, oh, look at this object and turn away like we had when they were infants.

Lori Korthals:

Exactly, exactly. So then a third category, or domain is language. And it's at this toddler stage where they're really beginning to figure out that there are symbols that represent things that they know. So I remember my middle child on our way to daycare, we would always turn left at these big golden arches or this big yellow M. And she actually would kind of start to cry as soon as she saw that, because she knew that meant we were soon getting out of the car, and she was going into daycare. And so their language development happens in many different phases and in a very predictable, yet fascinating way at this age. I love the idea of the language explosion that happens about 18 months, and they've had maybe one word for specific things. And now all of a sudden, they can turn that word into like a two word phrase, blue cup or my cup, probably more like mine and yours, right? And mine and mine. Yes, you know, but they're really working hard at these things. And you have an 18 month old, don't you?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, so mine, he's just a little older than one and a half. And he's kind of I want to say my late bloomer. But my daughter was very early in a lot of her milestones due in part to her temperament. And yeah, my son's a little more easygoing, and hasn't been in a huge hurry for a lot of the milestones. And so he's kind of just hitting this language explosion. And actually, my co-parent and I had a few days away and when we came back, I could not believe how much more he was saying. In a matter of a few days, he went from, like, he could say, before we left like, thank you, Mama, thank you Dada. And now he can say thank you to other people. He went from he would say suh for my daughter, and her name does not start with S. But that was like the noise he'd make. And now it sounds like he's starting to say her name. So it does, it just explodes. It's like, okay, I didn't know you knew this word. Okay. Never heard you say that before. Like, whoa, so much language happening.

Lori Korthals:

I love it. Yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

It's a huge part of what they're doing everyday. Right? Like, oh, I could do this. I can do that. I can try to say that. Yes, you say that word. I'm gonna try to repeat it.

Lori Korthals:

Oops, I didn't mean to say that word. And you repeated it.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Which also goes right into the social domain. And so one thing I love about toddlers is when they start to develop, because they're starting to understand that they can affect the world and understand other people are doing different things than I am. They start to feel some of the self conscious emotions, like shame or guilt or embarrassment, like the toddler who will go stand behind the chair to poop, right? Or , my son will do like, if he's just like, oh, buddy, no, like, that's not a good choice. Even just like a minor scolding of like, Okay, well, you're really not supposed to do that. We'll get the hands over the face and laying his face down on the couch. Right? And so I feel some of those self conscious emotions because they realize, like, my mom didn't like when I did that, right. And so I realized my emotions impact things. They also imitate behavior. They can copy things. Baby signs can still be a thing. It can be toddler signs, too. Absolutely. Yep. And then that huge realization that what I do can impact other people. If I cry when we're in the grocery store, do my parents give me the thing I'm crying for? Do they walk out with that? Do we walk out without our groceries, right? But I'm starting to realize if I do this, they might do that. If I drop my cup, what happens? If I pull the dog's tail, what happens? And so they're doing a ton of experimenting, right? They're doing a ton of experimenting with the world around them.

Lori Korthals:

They are and that social then moves right into emotional as well. Like you were talking about the emotions. And so if we look at emotional development as its own domain, we have to remember that even though they can walk, even though they can run, even though they're starting to talk, even though they can have this shame or embarrassment, they don't have a good grasp on handling those emotions. Self regulating and keeping those emotions in check. And we sometimes expect them to. Okay, you can walk. You should be able to not reach for the dirty plants, right? You should be able to not do that. And really, when we're looking at toddlers from the ages of one to three, part of their emotional development is all about that idea of self regulation. And they can be so easily frustrated because they know more than they can say, right? They do have these physical opportunities, but they maybe aren't allowed to use them all the time. So I can run, but you keep holding me back. You're holding my hand and telling me no. My emotional development is not ready for you to keep saying no. And so, gosh, I think that being a toddler has got to be so frustrating at times, because you have all of these newfound skills that you're working on yet emotionally, you are a mess, and you cannot control them, right.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And as adults, we've had all this experience, whether good or bad, around what happens, like appropriate ways to express emotions. Toddlers have almost none. Yeah, so it's like, I'm mad, I'm going to knock over your block tower. I'm mad, I'm gonna pull the dog's tail, right, like, I'm gonna do these things and I'm learning. You said a thing before about that toddlers were learning to set up the backyard fence, right? That toddlers are pushing, where is appropriate and what is allowed. And as parents, we're working on setting the boundaries of this is behavior we like seeing. This is behavior that's not safe. This is behavior that hurts people, right? And so we're working on the boundaries to keep our kids safe while still letting them quote unquote, explore and play in the backyard. Right? Yeah, because they don't have a lot of those skills or knowledge.

Lori Korthals:

They don't. And they're in science class 24/7.

Mackenzie Johnson:

See what happens when I do this and I don't have the impulse control not to.

Lori Korthals:

I know we talked about it being like having the 90% off clearance rack follow me around all day. Like I need this. I need this. I want this. I need that. Yeah. All right. What about guiding toddlers?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, so we are The Science of Parenting podcast. And so it's great to understand a little bit of the development, what's going on with our kids, what can they realistically do? And what they can't do quite yet. But ultimately, it comes down to like, alright, so what do I do about all that? Right? What practical strategies do you have for us? And so we were able to collaborate with ISU professor, Dr. Diana Lange. And she gave us access to her open access book called Parenting in Diverse Contexts. And she has these really great little one liners. It's like, okay, you want one sentence about parenting an infant or toddler or teenager, here it is. And so this is what she has to say about toddlers. As parents, we use limitations, protection, and structure to create safe spaces for play and exploration. Limitations, protection, and structure to create safe spaces for play and exploration. I love that. And I'm kind of amazed like, I feel like I should have talked about exploring more. That's a very toddler thing is exploring the world and yeah, exploration for sure. We want them to be able to play and explore. And we provide the limits, protection, and structure.

Lori Korthals:

We do that and I love that her one liners go right along with Ellen Galinsky's Stages of Parenting. So yes, in this stage of parenting, we are really focused on developing those rules and boundaries while our kids explore. Right, we are working on making sure that we are the authority as parents, while our kids explore this cool world

Mackenzie Johnson:

It actually reminds me of like someone I around them. know will say the saying about like, if it's hard when they're toddlers, wait till they're teenagers. Which is neither here nor there. But the idea that we're setting boundaries and rules that we can make, maintain and adapt and morph over time, but that our kids come to know us as people who will be consistent and keep them safe and set appropriate boundaries and all these things that like that's what we're really setting in toddlerhood. So yeah, if we have no boundaries or any of those things, that will affect our kids as teenagers. Why do you suddenly have all these rules? Yes. Yes. And so I do love that. I love that like, okay, limit, structure. Yeah, I can do that. I'll let them explore but...

Lori Korthals:

Okay, so if you had to tell other parents then about developing boundaries and limitations, what advice would you give?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay, so I actually think I got this from one of our Just in Time Parenting newsletters, when I received it as a parent myself, the phrase "don't ask a toddler." So it's kind of like if you give a mouse a cookie, or ask a toddler, a question that allows them to say, no, they're probably gonna.

Lori Korthals:

Are we ready to leave the park?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Right. Like, can we get our shoes on? And especially as they get used to, like, I can now tell you the word no, right? That's a nice skill, I'm wanting to practice or like, I want things for myself. And I can communicate that to you. I want to say no, right? And so that's mine is like, don't ask a toddler. So the alternative, like I said earlier, is choices. So actually my proud parenting moment, I was with a friend who has a child around the same age as my older child and they were both toddlers at the time. And I was telling her, I swear, all I do all day is try to think of how I can turn something into a choice. And then my daughter climbed up the end table, and my friend looked at me like, what are you gonna say? What's the choice about this? Like, a fun way. And I was like, you can get down or I can help you. Right? It's finding ways to turn it into, oh, can we get down please? Like, no, I'm not gonna ask you because the answer. I'm not okay with the choice no.

Lori Korthals:

Right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

What about you? What would be your advice for setting boundaries and limits with toddlers?

Lori Korthals:

Okay, so I think advice for parents developing limitations and boundaries around toddlers. I know mine would be that their no, don't take it personally. You know, sometimes they're just saying the word no because it's a word that they know. Like, hey, they know that word. No. And they're test driving the word no. They're test driving the limits and the boundaries. And so sometimes parents say, Well, he told me no, and then he threw a tantrum, because I didn't give it to him because he didn't want it. Yeah, that's the welcome to toddlerhood, the era of I have no idea what you want. And so I think I know you do

Mackenzie Johnson:

But I know you do. You know what you want. But I don't know what you want.

Lori Korthals:

And it's just that idea of, you know, don't take everything in toddlerhood as as definitive. So the no might not always mean no, like, it might only mean no for a split second until I realized that I don't get fries because I said no. But I actually really did want fries. I thought you were talking about the the milk. Right? And so yeah, that would be my advice is that they're going to change their mind. Like they just are.

Mackenzie Johnson:

We're in full blown no phase at our house. And even like, my son likes to go get his own coat from where it hangs by the front door and I'll be like, Alright, buddy, get your coat. And no, and then get it. Yeah. Like, okay, gotcha. You want to show me that you have a choice. All right, buddy. I get it.

Lori Korthals:

You know, like, we can't get hung up on that. Because think about how your day would start out then if you got hung up on the fact that well, you said no. You must have meant no. So actually, he's just really practicing his words and he's excited to go get his coat.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Right. And we're gonna know. And providing those choices. Yeah, I said like, don't ask a toddler. The alternative is to provide the choice and choices that we're okay with him doing, right. Like, would you like to get your coat? Or would you like me to? Okay, if he says like, you get it. Then I need to get it, right. That's a choice that I offered. So make sure whatever choices you offer, you're okay with doing?

Lori Korthals:

Yeah. Yeah. So okay, well, that kind of brings us to the reality of it, some parenting tips, and the CDC has some great lists for all different ages. We're gonna keep sharing them along each episode. And so this week's list I think I'm just gonna pick out maybe a theme and then you can pick out the ones that you noticed on the list. And so I again noticed the idea that there were several strategies, several ideas and tips around the idea of Dr. Beecher's Talk. Read. Sing. concept.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, we say that with infants, right. And it is totally like, there's tips about finding a special place and time to read with your kids, about how we talk with them and it kind of hints if you've heard of the idea of serve and return conversations, which basically is like, if your child does something or even if they're not saying something, maybe they're pointing, maybe they're smiling, maybe there's something somehow communicating. And then we say something back, like, it looks like you want blank, or this is funny for you, or whatever it is. And it's about the conversation that you volley the conversation back and forth with our toddlers.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, we didn't talk about that with infants. It's really great with infants to, but yeah, that talk, read, sing for sure. There's all kinds of tips in there about how to do those. But that's a huge part of what it talks about is those three, it is absolutely and other strategies. And I see another theme, as I look through the strategies of what we talked about was giving that opportunity to try. Giving them the opportunity to try and do it themselves. Even if we know they might not be able to finish the task. Thinking about like zipping a coat, giving them the opportunity, you start the zipper and they finish it, or they put their shoe on and you tie it. So the opportunities to try bits and pieces and parts and pieces of the things that they're doing.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Totally, that exploration of independence. There's tons of tips, with all that kind of stuff in it. And then one of the ones that stood out to me, actually Iwant to read it word for word, because I thought it was great, is giving our child attention and praise when they follow instructions and they show positive behavior. And limiting, I'm going to use the word overreacting, for behavior we don't like or defiant behavior. So if we don't love a tantrum, right, we don't want to overreact and give them too much attention. Then they're like, oh, this works great. I get the attention I want. Exactly. So giving positive attention for behavior, limiting our overreacting for behavior we don't. But then the second part is to teach our kids acceptable behavior, right? Give them acceptable ways to show things like upset and even teaching them those language emotion words where it's like, you're mad, or you didn't want that to happen, or you're frustrated, or you thought you were going to get to do this, that's disappointing. Yes. Yes.

Lori Korthals:

We had an episode in season one, where we talked about the strategy house rules. And that was a strategy that I learned from Zero to Three from Dr. Ron Lally. And it's exactly that, where you teach them the behaviors you want. And you limit the overreaction of behaviors you don't want. So that honestly, you're giving them more attention for those behaviors you do want. And yes, I love that. It's one of my favorites strategies that we share.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So in that episode, if you guys have been listening to us for a while, you might remember Lori assigned that activity to me to do and now I'm like, maybe you need to assign it to me to do again. It's been a while. I might have to let go of no. Right? But figuring out definitely what behaviors we want to provide attention for and limit our overreaction. Absolutely.

Lori Korthals:

So does that brings us to the resource.

Mackenzie Johnson:

It certainly does. And we're actually talking about the same resource we talked about for infants, this Just in Time Parenting Newsletters that come to our email, and they're totally free based on the age of your kids. And actually, I have a story specifically about toddlers and these newsletters. So when my daughter was about two, actually, probably exactly two, because if I was getting a newsletter, it was probably related to her second birthday because it comes based on their age. It comes in my inbox. And like I said, she was kind of early on a lot of her milestones. So we read through and I'm like, Oh, good. She's doing this. She's doing this. That's great. Okay, yeah, we're doing well here. And sometimes even maybe I puff my chest up a little like, we're doing so well. And then I had a child who was a little bit later on things. It's like, okay, yep, every kid's different. But I remember reading through the list of things your child might be able to do and it was like, get themselves dressed. And I was like, I've never let her try. Every morning I get up, I get her dressed, we get out the door. And I've never even let her try that. So even as someone with a background in child development, as a parent, I love these newsletters that gave me great tips about how to support my kids' development. Good reminders of things we can be working on and so yeah, jitp.info. So Just in Time Parenting is what that is. Free newsletters based on your kids' age, you can sign up for more than one kid. It's just such good stuff, research based parenting information.

Lori Korthals:

Excellent. Awesome. Thank you. So then we are ready to have our Stop. Breathe. Talk. moment. I mean, last week, Kenzie came in and kind of blew us away and reminded us we didn't even talk about baby signs and sign language. So I'm a little on edge to find out what she's going to share. But this is our moment where we talk with our producer. We use our flagship strategy of Stop. Breathe. Talk. as a way for us to take a pause in our episode and take a breath and, you know, maybe look at things from a different perspective and specifically about toddlers. So welcome Kenzie.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Here's the thing, every little bit of question, every question I thought of I was like, Oh, no, they already talked about that. Yeah. Okay. So I think my question is around something you mentioned briefly. But I want to go into a little bit more, because I know that this is a big interest area of Mackenzie's. And that is literacy. Oh, so yeah. And I thought of this because I was thinking about language development. And often we have adults who think, oh, they'll learn how to read in preschool. They'll learn how to read in kindergarten. But reading starts before that, right? So can you maybe talk a little bit about how we can engage in literacy with our toddlers?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes! I love this. We have a program we offer at Iowa State that I get to work alongside a lot and how we can promote these skills with our young kids. And so one is having regular experiences with books for our kids. Finding this special time that makes sense for you, right, like right before bedtime, right before meal, right after meal, right when they wake up, but finding a regular time to have experiences with kids and books. Another one that like singing is something that actually promotes their language and their literacy skills. There's a ton of good stuff there. And then one that Dr. Beecher, who is our literacy state specialist, reminds me about is giving our toddlers access to drawing materials like big crayons. Even if they're doing the like whole fist huge cram, that scribbling they do is actually a precursor to them learning to write. And then my other one of my favorite things to tell parents of toddlers when it comes to books, is like, you don't even have to read the words. Like, books are a tool really, the way I think of them is like, books are a tool to really engage us in conversation with our kids. It provides us words we can say if we do choose to read along, but there's even some really great books that don't have a lot of words. And you can feel the page like oh, wow, and you're narrating what you see. And you ask your child like, how is he feeling or what's happening here? And there's so many. Yeah, I love books as a tool to just really think about promoting conversation like, yeah, maybe you have a kids' book that has way too many words for a toddler, but there's some animals they might recognize, or certain people, right? My toddler will look at a book and say Mama, like Yeah, sure. I'm not in that book. But for sure. That is an adult woman. Yes. It is Mama. Yes. And so yeah, I love. I was like, but I get to do a lot with literacy education at work. But it's not like you don't have any experience of literacy, Lori.

Lori Korthals:

You know, I just love being able to watch the lightbulb moment in parents when they realize they don't have to read the whole book. Yeah, and to help parents understand that just touching and opening and closing the book 15 times is literacy interaction. Yeah, yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And especially for a toddler.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely. And so we get to give parents permission to not read the whole book, to not even read the words in the book. We just maybe look at the pictures. We maybe hold the book upside down, and then we turn it the right way. And then we turn it the wrong way. And then we turn it upside down. And that's the time that we had with that book. And I love being able to give parents permission, because that helps them maybe feel more comfortable. And maybe they didn't enjoy reading as a child and to be able to say to them, you know what, you don't have to read the words in the book, like you can sit with the book, and just touch the book and talk about the pictures and that's reading. It takes the pressure of gosh, I wasn't a very good reader. I don't like to read. It takes that pressure away, and then creates a new opportunity for them to enjoy learning to read with their child.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Totally. And I think going with the idea of like, what's fun? Yeah, like, this is one like maybe the only one time when it comes to parenting that you're not the bad guy. Like your job as a parent, especially when they're toddler, preschool, infant is to have fun with books. And so if your toddler, there's actually this really sweet video in one of the things that we offer of this toddler, or like older infant/young toddler, looking at the book and the parent is trying to flip through the pages. And the toddler keeps pulling the book back to the front cover. And she is just like, fascinated by this elephant on the front cover. The parent tries to turn the pages, she wants to look at that elephant. And eventually, you know, after one or two times the parents like, you see this elephant here, it is huge. Elephants make this noise. Look, he's surrounded by birds or trees or, you know, and the parent just has a conversation. And then the child crawls out of their lap. And it's like, that was a book interaction. Yeah, yes.

Lori Korthals:

Right. Yeah. I love it.

Mackenzie Johnson:

All kinds of flexibility with toddlers in book. Right.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Right. And I wanted to bring that up. Because like we do have, some people do have that idea that reading starts when you can read the words, right? They're reading when they can tell you what those words are. But that's not true. So yeah, just encouraging parents to find different ways to interact with books. And even as you said that the back and forth, there's a fancy word for it. But the back and forth helps with literacy skills, as well. And there's lots of ways to increase literacy skills, but just dive into that a little further.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Those are a few off the cuff. Right, right. Yes. If I had been planning, I maybe could have said something more insightful. But yeah.

Mackenzie DeJong:

If you want to know more, there's probably more on our website.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Check out one of our Iowa State Extension parenting education programs for literacy.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Maybe we can tap into Dr. Connie Beecher and do something around literacy sometime. We'll have to see.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Hold that thought everybody.

Lori Korthals:

I hear a guest blog coming up. Thanks for joining us. Yeah, thank you.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So that's Mackenzie DeJong, our podcast producer. She kind of listens along during the episode, and then comes in and asks us something on the topic, but maybe something she wants to hear more about. And we just, we just don't know what she's gonna ask. And we don't. And so we do off the cuff. It's like, Hey, you know what? Toddlers and literacy, here we go. Yes. So today, we got to talk a lot all about our toddlers, right? They're fun, and they're full of feelings. And they have some skills, but really not a lot of skills to navigate the world. So our job is to help set those limits and boundaries, help them develop, but stay safe while they can explore.

Lori Korthals:

Remember, they have really only been around this earth 36 months at the most, 36 months. Yes. And so much happens in that timeframe that woof, those emotions are big sometimes. And they need us to remember 36 months. That's it? Yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Of all the domains, emotions are wow. Right. There's lots of the language. There's lots of stuff, but learning how to deal with those big feelings they have. That's tough.

Lori Korthals:

Yeah. So thanks for joining us today on The Science of Parenting podcast and remember to subscribe to our weekly audio podcasts on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. Watch the show on video each week. And join us on Facebook or Twitter at the science of parent to see our contents in your feed.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, please do come along with us. Next week we'll be looking at preschoolers and we'll continue on up the age groups but please come along with us as we tackle the ups and downs, the ins and outs, and the research and reality all around The Science of Parenting.

Lori Korthals:

The Science of Parenting is hosted by Lori Korthals and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by Mackenzie DeJong, with research and writing by Barbara Dunn Swanson. Send in questions and comments to parenting@iastate.edu and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext.