Discover the secret of childhood from 0-3 year old:

2-3 years old

We Don’t Share

Monday, October 15th, 2012 11:19 am | By Stephanie Woo

Brooke and her stroller

You know how when two children play together, the toy someone else is playing is always the BEST toy in the room? This is when I always hear parents and caretakers tell their children, “Sweetheart, you have to SHARE.”

Imagine this: you’re at dinner at a beautiful restaurant with your partner and two friends. The food comes and everyone starts enjoying the food in front of them. Then your partner turns, nudges you and says, “Honey, you should share your food with your friends.” How does that make you feel? Depending on the day, I can imagine I would have any or all of these responses, including “What, why? It’s MY food.” “Why do I have to share? Why don’t you share YOUR food?” and flat-out “um, NO.” Frankly, everyone else at the table would consider your partner to be nothing but plain rude. As adults, we respect someone’s right to share. We value sharing when it comes from within. If you have to ask someone to share, it’s not really sharing.

That’s why you never hear the word “share” in our house.

Two weeks ago, Mackenzie was playing with a toy stroller and Brooke wanted it. I heard the screaming and found Mackenzie holding onto the stroller while Brooke was trying to yank it out of her sister’s hands.  I got down to their eye-level, turned to Brooke and said, “Brooke, can you say, ‘Mackenzie, when you are finished, can I play with it?’” I gave Brooke 1 or 2 words at a time so she can repeat them after me. Then I turned to Mackenzie and said, “Mackenzie, when you are finished, can Brooke play with it?” She nods yes.

Brooke still wanted it and tried to take it from Mackenzie, I said, “Mackenzie is not finished playing yet. You can play with it when she is finished. Do you want to read a book or listen to music?” Brooke lets it go and goes to play with something else.

Five minutes go by. Brooke is upstairs. Mackenzie climbs up the stairs pulling the stroller behind her saying, “Brooke! Brooke!” She’s done playing with it and she’s ready to pass it on!

We’ve been doing this ever since they’ve started fighting over toys, maybe 4-5 months ago. This is the most effective communication tool I’ve experienced with toddlers. Speak their language and toddlers can be so reasonable it would surprise you. The next time Brooke is playing with something, she knows she will receive the same courtesy: she gets to play with the toy to her heart’s content and no one else can play with it till she is done. When a child knows this, she will have all the patience in the world to wait her turn.

VIDEO: Daisy Teaches B and M How to Make Rice

Thursday, October 11th, 2012 10:26 am | By Stephanie Woo

Since we cook rice at home 5-6 days a week, it was great for B and M to learn to make something they eat and experience so regularly. This video was taken over the summer in Denver, when Daisy, my cousin and Montessori teacher of 10 years, came to stay with us. B and M are 19 months here.

Nowadays, I just put the rice cooker at a height they can reach, let one child pour the rice (which I’ve pre-measured and placed in a bowl) and another child pour the water (also premeasured and placed in a pitcher). And then one person gets to close the lid and the other gets to press the ‘on’ button. If you give them the right set-up (rice cooker plugged in, pre-measured rice and water), they can learn to do this on their own without you!

Montessori says, don’t give children ‘pretend’ work because they like real work so much better (this surprised her, she thought it would be the other way around!).  Well, this work is easy, real and VERY practical.

P.S. Before this point, they’ve been primarily exposed to Chinese. Notice how much they love pronouncing those new English words. Children at this age just love and soak up language. More on language later.

Cutting with a knife and other kitchen activities

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 12:09 pm | By Stephanie Woo

There’s usually something I’m cooking that day the children can help with. Or I will find items they can cut or peel and cook with those. Preparing food gives the child opportunities for concentration, developing fine motor control and you can see in those eager eyes just how much they want to participate in family life.

They get so much joy when they get to explore something new and REAL, like the whole corn – husk and all!

This requires maximum effort! Unlike adults, young children love to feel the full capacity of their bodies

Celery can be seriously hard to cut, but when you arm children with the right gear, it’s no problem

Zucchinis cut easily and can be a great place for your toddler to start practicing using a knife

M helps peel a baked purple sweet potato for us at the family table – absolutely delicious!A child can start using a knife as soon as they have the motor skills to do so, but don’t let your apprehension get in the way of letting him/her try. It’s not so different from teaching them to use a pair of scissors (watch the video here). The right presentation goes a long way. Make sure YOU are always holding the handle with both hands when presenting this to the child, because they will do it the way you do it.

The right material is key for your toddler, make sure you consider the size, weight and feel of each item before purchasing it. Here’s where I bought mine:

Knife: Joie makes the best cutter/knife I’ve found for toddlers. The size of the handle is perfect for their little hands. As long as they are holding the handle and cutting with both hands, it’s difficult for them to cut themselves but of course, an adult should be supervising at all times. You can buy it at Bed Bath and Beyond or here: