Is It Normal? A Guide to Quirky Toddler Behavior
A look into the minds and behaviors of these cute, curious creatures we call our children!
Hmm … What’s This?
Admit it. Fess up. As much time as parents spend hoping that our children will grow up healthy and happy, we devote a fair amount to worrying that they’ll be … well … normal. So when our toddlers begin to shed their babyish innocence and start adopting one or two (or 12) undesirable habits, it’s natural for Mom to secretly fret that her son will be branded the class nose picker or for Dad to choke on his Wheaties when his daughter starts chewing Fido’s dog biscuit at the breakfast table.
As the mother of two little kids, I can say with conviction that I’ve seen almost everything. And, I can also say, if ignored long enough, most oddball toddler behaviors will eventually pass. Besides, whatever quirky habits linger into grade school will quickly be erased by a healthy dose of peer pressure within a week or two. But since my laissez-faire, “Relax—they’ll live” attitude can be difficult to accept when your mother-in-law insists that your daughter’s hair sucking habit is dangerous, I’ve consulted with two experts to get the lowdown on what to ignore, what to limit, and what to stop immediately.
Insatiable curiosity is unquestionably the hallmark of a healthy toddler. After all, seeing, touching, and tasting are how they learn about this crazy world we’ve brought them into. And what better place to begin exploring than in your own backyard, so to speak? The human body is rife with interesting areas to explore, so it’s only natural that children poke their fingers, say, up their noses to see what’s there. And as pediatrician Dr. Joseph Baust, MD, of Nashville’s Centennial Pediatrics explains, “They are usually rewarded for their efforts by finding something.” Although it’s kind of embarrassing when kids do it in public, nose picking and kids go together like peanut butter and jelly. They all seem to enjoy it at one time or another. Rather than make a big deal out of it, which will only serve to prolong the behavior, Dr. Baust says, “Simply redirect their attention to another activity and perhaps wash their hands.”
If a child’s face is his playground, then the private area further south is like a trip to Disneyland. It’s simply fascinating! Not only are there lots of strange areas to discover, but touching down there feels good, too. Perhaps because they are initiated early on by infant boys with tiny erections, many parents aren’t altogether shocked when their son pulls and pokes his penis for fun. But even the most earthly mom (like me) can become tongue-tied when her little girl rubs herself and announces she has a tickle spot! Dr. Baust assures us that “genital exploration is a very common and normal developmental stage,” and recommends calmly redirecting when it happens in public or just ignoring it at home.
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