Posts tagged: 2 year-olds

Toddler Trick (so I can make dinner) – Find the Frog!

By , July 3, 2009 1:40 pm

Most parents would agree that dinner preparation is the toughest time of the day. We are worn out and the kids are tired and crabby.  The easiest solution for a hard earned bit of peace is to plunk them down in front of the TV or a video in order to cook without “help” or having to play umpire.

On really bad days, I sometimes find myself too easily wanting to resort to the distraction of a video, especially with my 3 year-old who of course wants to “help” with everything, including dinner. So whenever I come across a new trick to happily and easily occupy her, I am eager to share it with others!

Several years ago I picked up some colored plastic threading and counting frogs at a yard sale. I have used them for everything from math homework to French lessons, but I just discovered a new game that my 3 year old loves: “Find the Frog!”  This is proof that we don’t need something complicated or expensive (or electronic) to entertain and teach a child.

Our frog friends come in three sizes and six colors. I simply tell my 3 year-old what to thread, for example, “medium blue,” and she does it with joy! Sometimes I get fancy and say “three large orange,” or “one small red and two medium green.”

This is so simple that most of you are probably saying “Umm … what’s so special about this?” But since it never occurred to me that this game could entrance my daughter for an hour at a time, it might not have occurred to a few of you either.

Plus, consider these benefits:

  • I can work in the kitchen while playing this game with her (or be lazy and sit on the sofa and read a magazine).
  • The game teaches colors, numbers, and sizes.
  • Children practice remembering and following increasingly complicated instructions.
  • The threading is an excellent exercise of fine motor skills.
  • You could play this with almost anything that threads:  beads, thread spools, colored pasta, or buttons for example.  (Great for creatively repurposing household items!)
  • Variation for non-threadable items:  have your child place certain items in an egg carton, container, or selection of dishware.  For example:  “Two blue buttons in the glass” or “One large seashell in the red bowl.”
  • Make this an activity for your “Mommy I’m Bored Box!”

For more easy ideas, please read these posts about other very simple toddler pastimes that have worked for me:


Potty Update: Success!!

By , August 26, 2008 9:56 pm

OK, I know that my two year-old’s potty progress is not the world’s most earth-shattering, fascinating topic. Even I, her mother, am not THAT riveted by it all. The only one who finds it endlessly entertaining is my two year-old herself.

So, WARNING – If you are not interested in the finer points of potty training a 2 year-old, please stop reading here and maybe go read about some crafts instead. For those who are still with me, please read on:

Before I left on our big summer adventure, I wrote about our successful Potty Fiesta, but asked for advice on getting my little one to give up her little potty and begin using the “big girl potty.”

Since so many of you commented and offered your tips, this must be a subject that really is of more interest than it might seem! Thank you all for your helpful input! I really appreciated it and thought I should let you know how we finally solved the issue.

We spent the month of July in Upstate New York at my Dad’s house and I was worried that a vacation was not really the best time to finish tackling the potty issue, but my stepmother had no little potty, only the seat that fits on the “big potty.”

Despite my misgivings about potty learning while on vacation, I boldly decided not to go out and buy a little potty. Instead, I told my daughter that there was no little potty at Pop Pop’s house and she would simply have to use the big one (several of you reported success with some variation of this method).

Well, my little one is PRETTY STUBBORN (where does she get that I wonder?), and absolutely refused to go near the potty for several days. We were back to diapers. It was quite discouraging.

Then my stepmother had the idea of making a doll “go to the big potty.” My stepmom gave a brilliant performance and made quite a show of it. Of course we all acted really excited for Dolly and gave her lots of praise and some Skittles (bribery has its uses).

I was skeptical that my little one would buy into this trickery, but wouldn’t you know, within 5 minutes she was on the potty!! She was nervous and was clearly afraid of falling in, even on the little seat, so I had to hug her tightly while she went. She did it and got lots of praise and Skittles too, just like Dolly.

After one or two more potty trips she lost her fear of falling in and no longer wanted to be held (“ME do it!”). What a breakthrough!! She was fine from then on, and even manages public toilets without using a little seat (but while being held).

When we returned home after our month away I ran inside and whisked away the little potty before she had a chance to see it. I thought she might want to use it if she saw it, but so far she has never asked where her beloved little “poTEEE” went.

My fears of having to pack the little potty everyday in her high school backpack are gone now, thanks to my brilliant stepmom as well as your advice and encouragement. Thank you!!

(Cute photo thanks to photographer ZeroSilence3 (Jason Lemay) and

Potty Fiesta!

By , July 1, 2008 1:28 pm

The big excitement around here at the moment is the “poTEEE” as my 2 year-old calls it. She has been interested in potties of all sorts from about 18 months on. I have been the one who has been stalling the whole potty training process (or potty “learning,” as they say now).

I am so over the eagerness to be out of diapers that I felt with my first child. Experience has taught me a lot.

Quite frankly, I have learned that diapers are easier. We never have to worry about where the nearest toilet is. We never have to worry about how clean the nearest toilet is. We never have to worry about messy accidents in awkward public places.

But now that she is 2 and a half, I have decided that I really must put my completely selfish attitude aside and take the big potty plunge.  After all, I don’t want her to be stashing away some Depends along with her Chemistry textbook in her high school backpack.

The older two learned between 2 and a half and 3. They both wanted to go to “school” (Montessori preschool) and had to be 3 and free of diapers. The incentive of “school” was enough to motivate them and get them with the program in a matter of a day or two.

This time “school” is a bit farther off, so although I am talking up that aspect of things, I have had to be a bit more creative.

The other day we had a “Potty Fiesta” where I moved her little potty to the living room and let her run around bare-bottomed all morning, and with big girl undies on in the afternoon. This is a modified “run around the backyard naked” approach. Since we live on a golf course, I didn’t think it would be seemly to have her running around the backyard naked, even if she is only 2.

I also resorted to bribery: one Skittle for “wee-wee” and two Skittles for “poop.” The older two also get a Skittle treat when she goes, and that has caused them to become a most enthusiastic cheering section!

So far, so good. Accidents have been few and far between. She is very proud, and even came over to tell me out of the blue: “Mama, I’m a poTEEE trained.”

The only challenge I face now is that she has fallen so in love with her little “poTEEE,” that she refuses to go near a big toilet (even with a little seat on it). Any ideas on how to overcome PoTEEE Attachment and broaden the toilet horizons? I really don’t want to be toting the beloved “poTEEE” around with us every time we run an errand!

What tricks have you used to speed the potty process?

Dressing a Two-Year Old

By , May 10, 2008 1:54 pm

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Do we want undies or diapers? If diapers – then “big girl” (pull-ups) or baby diapers? Pants or dress? Which socks? Shall we dress ourself or have “Mamadoit?”

Getting dressed is not easy when you are two. It is not easy for the two year-old, and not easy for her mama.

Today was a good day for undies, we both agreed on that. Saturday, no errands, home all day. However, apparently the undies I had chosen were not satisfactory: “Nnnnno!” So I pulled out a second pair of absolutely identical undies and held them both out. “Would you like these undies or these undies?” I ask as patiently as I can manage.

My daughter M regards the proffered panties and examines each pair with great concentration, apparently not realizing that they are exactly the same. After much deliberation, she chooses one: “Dis one!” she says. As I begin to put the rejected undies back in the drawer she yells: “No, no, no! Dat one! Dat one!”

Now that The Great Panty Debate is behind us, we turn to the issue of clothing. My two year-old tiny tyrant marches off into the depths of the closet and emerges with a size four t-shirt that I was saving at the back of a shelf until she grew into it. I uselessly try to explain that the shirt is too big, but my littlest one is too busy trying to jam it over her head to listen or care. She finally flings the shirt down and it lands in a cold puddle of water on the bathroom floor. Now it can’t be worn.

After much screeching and posturing from us both, we eventually come to a truce. The wet shirt goes, but M shall choose the replacement outfit. She once again disappears into the dark reaches of the closet and reappears with a rather masculine striped t-shirt previously belonging to her brother (at least it was the correct size) and a gauzy pink dance skirt.

“Mines! Mines! Mines!” she yells as she struggles to squeeze her head through the sleeve of the t-shirt. I know better than to interfere, and sit back to watch the show. The flailing and grunting and crying escalate until she flings the offending shirt at me while barking out the order: “Mamadoit!”

“What do you say?” I ask calmly. “Pleeeeez” she responds, and she finally deigns to accept my assistance with the dressing procedure.

Total time? 24 minutes. I feel I need a nap or a glass of wine, or perhaps both…and I have only been up for about an hour.

~~~+++Happy Mothers’ Day weekend! +++~~~

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