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Photo by L Greenwood

Somehow knowing that autumn has arrived and that winter is not far behind, I’ve been spurred into action to get some bulbs planted in time for spring flowers.  So for the past two weekends we’ve been spending some time gardening.

Autumn Planting

It didn’t take much to get our toddler involved and in no time at all he was digging away and watering the bed in preparation for planting.  We chatted about the ants scrambling over the soil, the squirmy pink earthworms we dug up unintentionally and even about the bees buzzing around while we worked, how the earth feels between your fingers, the crunchiness of the autumn leaves and feeling the wind blowing through our hair.

I had to really resist the urge to get upset when, instead of patting down the soil around the seedlings, he smacked down the trowel on top of them.  A few of the seedlings have never recovered, but a worthwhile sacrifice I think in getting Aaron interested in gardening.


Aaron had so much fun, which was quite evident from his dirt smeared face by the end of it all.  At one stage we found an eggshell.  I could have said ‘gently’ until I was blue in the face.  Aaron delighted in scrunching it up between his chubby palms.


The next morning I was surprised to find that the Pansies, with their happy little faces, were still smiling up at me, as we seem to be the all night restaurant for the slugs in our neighbourhood.  I don’t have the heart to use slug pellets and with all the toddlers in our area it seemed organic gardening was the way to go,  so I was just hoping for the best.  So far, so good!

I feel it is important to get toddlers involved in these types of activities, as:

  • they learn about nature, the seasons and how things grow
  • they learn patience and will begin to understand that immediate satisfaction is not always necessary
  • they learn to understand that by nurturing something they can make something blossom
  • they gain confidence in knowing that they have helped plant and take care of something
  • they learn about loss, that not every seedling survives
  • a deeper bond is created between you and your child when spending time together on projects
  • they can see that it is okay to get your hands dirty, as long as you wash them afterwards!

BBC have a lovely site with fun gardening things to do with kids.  Check it out at Gardening with Children.

Below are some general rules and safety for gardening with youngsters:

Throughout their growing years children are learning the rules of life. This applies just as much to gardening as to any other activity.

Some Commonsense Rules

  1. Don’t touch someone else’s garden unless you have their permission.
  2. Never eat anything in the garden unless you know it is okay.
  3. Ask before you pick flowers.
  4. Wear sunscreen and a hat as a routine when you are outside in the garden.
  5. Wear gloves when handling soil or potting mix, when moving anything rough or sharp or working where spiders may lurk.
  6. Wear boots or solid footwear.
  7. Always check inside boots before putting them on, especially if they have been stored outdoors.
  8. Garden in suitable old clothes.
  9. Wash hands well after handling potting mix, soil or compost.

Beware of Poisonous Plants

Some common garden plants are poisonous and their planting should, if possible, be avoided in kids’ gardens. This list is by no means exhaustive, but the inclusion of so many commonly grown plants serves to reinforce how important it is that children are taught never to eat anything in the garden unless they know it is safe. All parts of the following plants are poisonous:

  • Agapanthus
  • Caladium – coloured-leaf indoor plant
  • Brugmansia – angel’s trumpet
  • Delphiniums
  • Foxgloves
  • Helleborus species – also known as Christmas roses
  • Lily of the valley
  • Lobelia
  • Rhododendrons and azaleas
  • Thevetia peruviana – known as yellow oleander or be-still tree

The leaves of the following plants are poisonous:

  • Box (Buxus spp)
  • Calendula
  • Elephant’s ears
  • Rhubarb
  • Tomato

The flowers of the arum lily are poisonous.

The milky sap of the following is poisonous:

  • Frangipani
  • Oleander
  • Poinsettia

The fruits and seeds of the following are poisonous:

  • Cestrum nocturnum – night-scented jessamine
  • Clivias
  • Cycads
  • Duranta – pigeon berry
  • Laburnum
  • Melia azederach – white cedar
  • Moreton Bay chestnut – black bean
  • Peppercorn tree
  • Privet
  • Sweet peas
  • Wisteria
  • Yew

These tubers and bulbs are poisonous:

  • Daffodils
  • Gloriosa lily
  • Hyacinth bulbs

What to do in the event of poisoning

Call emergency services

You can review our First Aid section which provides a basic overview of First Aid procedures.

This information has been kindly supplied by Yates Australia. For more comprehensive information on gardening, water conservation and much more visit the Yates website or you can join the Yates Garden Club for free advice, competitions and promotions.

Photo by Lynn Greenwood

Photo by Lynn Greenwood

When my partner collected our little bear from nursery on Friday he had been involved in his first fight.  My heart broke when I saw his left cheek and eye all red and scratched up.  According to the nursery accident report, which was nervously given to my partner to sign, Aaron had pushed an older girl onto the ground, then pinned her down by sitting on her.  She managed to get in a few good scratches with her long nails – apparently her parents had been asked to ensure they were cut on a previous occasion – before the fight was broken up by staff.

We are aware that Aaron is going through a phase of pushing other children, which we have been feeling terrible about.   Even though other mothers, friends included, know that their toddlers are probably going to go through this stage too, you can feel the glare beating down on you as you dust off their little one and give them a cuddle while reprimanding your little wrestler.  Of course he carries on totally unaware of the social awkwardness he has just caused.

After doing some research online, it would seem that this is a very common issue and one that most parents have to deal with at some time or other.  The advice is to make a big fuss of the victim while telling your child in a firm voice that ‘we do not push other children, that is naughty’, or something similar.  I am, however, not so sure that this is getting through to Aaron.  I find myself saying ‘gently’ most of the time we are around other children and feel bad for constantly having to be moaning at him.

Although I understand that he is probably testing his strength and boundaries right now, we would hate for him to be the class bully.  So we are doing all we can to try and make him understand that pushing and tail pulling (we have 2 old cats who are being totally harassed right now) is not okay and that it hurts.  Ouch!

Here is some advice from writer Cynthia Hanson in dealing with this issue:

For many toddlers, hitting or biting is a one-time event. But for others, it’s a habit until age 3, when most kids outgrow the misconduct, thanks to increasing language skills and an ability to regulate emotions. Even so, experts say parents must address it as soon as it starts. Resist the urge to raise your voice, because an emotional reaction will only enhance the entertainment value for your child. Be fast and firm, serious and stern. Here are some strategies to help you correct the behavior:

Be consistent. There’s no timetable as to how many incidents and reprimands it will take before your child stops hitting and biting. But if you respond the same way every time, he’ll probably learn his lesson after four or five incidents. “Eventually, your daughter will realize, ‘If I hit the dog, Mommy swoops in and redirects me, so I won’t do this anymore,'” says Carter. For 2- to 3-year-olds, a time-out is another effective intervention. “When my son Daniel was 2, he would slap my arm if he didn’t get his way. I said, ‘No hitting’ and ‘Do you want a time-out?'” says Shana Aborn, of Ridgewood, New York. “Sometimes that was enough to stop him in his tracks.”

Give him an alternative. A 2-year-old can learn to open his mouth wide and roar like a lion or clench his teeth and growl like a bear. “Making a loud animal noise is satisfying to toddlers because it’s scary and funny,” Youcha says. “The 10 seconds that it takes for your child to think about the sound and then make it will buy you time to distract her and redirect her to another activity.”

Know your child’s triggers. Once Aborn realized that Daniel was prone to smacking her arm when he was fatigued, she became adamant that he nap every afternoon and go to bed on time every night. Does your daughter bite when she’s hungry? Give her a healthy snack, and adhere to a strict meal schedule. And don’t forget about outdoor play as a prevention technique — even in chilly weather. “Being cooped up inside all day increases a child’s frustration level,” says Dr. Karp.

In social situations, toddlers often hit because they don’t want to share. For a playdate at home, remove all toys that have emotional meaning to your child and make sure that there are enough interesting toys to go around. “If there’s only one school bus, a conflict could erupt,” Carter warns. When the playdate is at someone else’s house, shadow your child so that you can distract him before he has a chance to unleash his inner Bamm-Bamm. “If you know your son will yank a certain toy away from a playmate, redirect him by saying, ‘Come over here and look at this neat toy,'” Youcha says.

Consult an expert. If your child is still hitting and biting after age 3, it may indicate an emotional issue or health matter that’s best addressed by a pediatrician or child development specialist, says Youcha. In preschoolers, these behaviors may be linked to stress from delayed language development, a recent death or illness in the family, or a new teacher or student whose presence has changed the classroom dynamic.

Originally published in American Baby Magazine, October 2006.  The full article can be found at

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child’s condition.

Do you have any tips to offer on this issue?  Do your toddlers push other children?


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