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Toddler Care: Feeding, Toileting, Disciplining & Safety

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are planning to be a teacher in an early childhood educational setting, you will benefit from learning more about caring for toddlers. This lesson offers insight into feeding, toileting, disciplining, and safety.

The Wonders and Challenges of Toddlers

April is so excited to begin her first internship in a daycare center. After all, soon she will be getting her own license, and this is an opportunity to do some on-the-job learning!

She becomes a little apprehensive when she finds out she is assigned to the toddler room, which includes children from ages 18 months to 3 years. April has little experience with toddlers, but she knows their reputation for being willful and difficult to manage.

As April meets with her cooperating teacher and does some research, though, she learns that toddler development is fascinating and exciting. She will get to see children learn to express themselves fully, gain independence, and discover the wonders of play.

April also comes to understand that the important developmental tasks toddlers focus on largely revolve around feeding, toileting, disciplining, and safety.

Feeding

April learns that there is a huge range in when children learn to eat independently, what kinds of foods they like and dislike, and how frequently they get hungry. She knows that as a teacher, she will be responsible for talking with families to find out personal and cultural beliefs related to feeding their toddlers.

One common challenge with toddlers is picky eating, or becoming increasingly choosy about what they will eat. April learns that it is best to offer the same food multiple times, even if a child refuses it. She never gets up during lunch or snack time to prepare something different and special for a picky eater, and she remains calm in the face of food refusal. Though it is hard, April tries to refrain from making a power struggle out of feeding time.

Feeding is one area where toddlers are often figuring out how much control they have over their own world. Little by little, April teaches them appropriate manners for sitting at a communal table and how to clean up after themselves when they are done. She teaches her toddlers to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and to focus in general on foods and drinks that will make them grow bigger and stronger.

Toileting

The children in April's classroom are on a continuum when it comes to toileting. Some are still in diapers all the time, while others are fully toilet trained. April and her cooperating teacher remain in close contact with families about their views and approaches to toileting. April understands that some families will want support from the school, while others have their own plans and procedures for how to approach this area.

In general, April's cooperating teacher suggests the following approach to toilet training:

  • Encourage students to use frank and straightforward language when talking about their bodies and what they feel.
  • Take students to the bathrooms at hourly intervals to try, making it a routine.
  • Provide plenty of positive reinforcement for attempts and successes at toileting.
  • Avoid shaming or criticizing children for having accidents.
  • Remain in close communication with families about goals and procedures for toileting.

Disciplining and Safety

April comes to understand that as far as toddlers go, disciplining and safety go hand in hand. Most discipline, or behavior management, for toddlers occurs out of a desire to keep children safe, from themselves as well as from each other!

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