Ah toddlers. Tiny little dictators with great big emotions. It is the toddler years where you first get a glimpse of a child’s true personality. They have done their learning on how to be alive and survive. They have learnt so, so much over the first two years of their life and now (oh no!) they have learnt that they are a master of their own fate. Now the curiosity is really ready to kick in.
Toddlers are entering such an amazing phase of childhood. They go from being little sponges who pleasantly take in the world around them to independent, stubborn, excitable souls. They are so happy and delighted that their knees go wobbly from laughter. They are so excited that they squeal. They run and spin as fast as they can. They are so angry that they have to scram and kick and throw things. They are so devastated that they sob their heart out with big fat tears rolling down their cheeks and a “why, why, why?” look on their little face. They are so in love that they can’t bear not to be in physical contact with you or a beloved toy. They are so filled with hate that if the cat comes any closer they will absolutely pull it’s tail and shout “NO CAT” at it. Toddlers really are discovering all of the emotions that the world has to offer. All those emotions you have spent the last two years teaching them about are now being experienced and they understand the words you use to describe them but cannot yet manage them.
It is around this age that toddlers really get a hold of imaginary play too. They have little adventures with figures or cars, they make you pretend cups of tea or use boxes as boats. They take all of the things they have seen on television or heard in stories and build the storylines, narratives, characters and situations into their play. They are beginning to learn about what is real but also have the ability to imagine other ‘realities’ and put themselves into different character roles as they begin to learn and practise empathy. A lot of their role play is based on things they have seen or experienced themselves and this is a philosophical skill too – to build up opinions and a bank of knowledge based on your own experiences.
Toddlers are problem solvers too. They get a car stuck in a play garage and will try different ways to get it out. They want a biscuit from a shelf in the cupboard so will drag something over to climb up and get it. They begin to try to dress and undress themselves. They figure out emotional problem solving as they manipulate adults into behaving the way they want them to. They can look at a toy that they want in the bottom of their toy box and can anticipate different possible approaches, scenarios and outcomes, on a basic level, as they figure out how to get to the said toy.
Toddlers are little philosophers in training so embrace the craziness and have fun with it.
Miss Magical Mess is a pre-school teacher and P4C Level 2B facilitator. After a shaky start as a P4C facilitator (P4C with 3 year olds... are you kidding?) Miss Magical Mess created her own approach to P4C and enquiry model and is now a big fan.