Investigating things and solving problems is a normal part of a child's development. Whānau need to encourage the child's exploration but also keep them safe.

Developing through problem solving

Solving problems and learning how things work is all part of a child's development. Ask the parents:

  • What have you noticed about how your toddler solves problems?

Sometimes if parents offer help when they see their toddler struggling with something, the child will refuse help. They may become even more frustrated if parents persist in offering to help. The phrase ‘Me do it’ may become a common reply. Ask:

  • How does your child react to you trying to help them?
  • How do you respond to that?
  • Why do you think that is?

Responding to help

With their ever-increasing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, toddlers are more able to use utensils efficiently. They’ll be using spoons, forks and pens. They may surprise dad and mum at how skilled they are at swiping iPads and tapping cell phones or computer keyboards. Ask:

  • How has your child been using their hands and fingers lately?
  • What has surprised you about their fine motor skills?
  • What access do they have to technology in your home?
  • How do you feel about that?

Keeping them safe

Whānau may want to review safety around the home as these clever hands and fingers will also be trying to open and close cupboards, drawers and gates and wanting to take lids off containers and bottles. Parents need to understand that getting angry with their toddler for their natural curiosity is unfair. Ask:

  • Have they got themselves into unsafe situations through their clever hands and fingers?
  • How did you respond?
  • What did you do to try to stop it happening again?

Access to medications, especially bottles without childproof lids, poses a real risk. Colourful pills that may look like lollies need careful storage. Ask:

  • What medication do you have in your home?
  • What system do you have for keeping it safely stored?

Another skill mum and dad might be seeing is how their toddler notices details and can recall them.

They may get excited when they arrive at, or go past, familiar places, maybe the homes of friends or family, their ECE centre or even a playground. Ask:

  • What has your toddler done to show you they remember details of things they’ve seen before?

This ability to identify signs and symbols is the beginning of reading and writing skills and can be celebrated by the whānau.

Practical advice to help keep children safe from serious injury | Safekids Aotearoa (Starship)(external link)

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