How Reading Helped My Toddler Calm Down
How Does Reading Benefit Your Toddler?
Reading to your toddler from as early as 1.5 years of age exposes your child to the much-needed vocabulary that helps him to shape up his expressions.
Reading helps stretch the imagination of a toddler by pushing him to think beyond his limits.
Reading to your toddler helps manifest all the hidden qualities in him by propelling him towards pushing his limits.
Reading to your toddler everyday makes their mind aware of phonics. It helps them split up every long word into little ones and makes them aware of the process of joining these little sounds to form a long word. This awareness is also known as phonemic awareness.
Toddlers can be initiated into the greater habit of reading independently if they are being read to from an early age.
Reading expressively to toddlers from the age of 1 till 3 helps them conquer their own challenges. Little story-books about whats behind the door or how to drink milk from a sipper can encourage toddlers to graduate to the next stage of growing up from where they are.
Babies Begin to Attempt Talking From 3 Months of Age!
A baby begins to attempt talking to express himself from as early as 3 months of age. Their receptivity from this period till about age 6 is tremendously strong and what can be compared to and described as in lay-man's terms as a "sponge". It is amazing how a baby grabs words spoken by adults and starts repeating them from as early as 7 or 8 months of age. In my case, my son started pronouncing names of vegetables and fruits clearly from the age of 9 months. Of course, every 'R' would be pronounced as "L" and every "Ch" would be pronounced as "Th". However, I remember that he would never give up and concoct simpler versions from complicated words like "pomegranate" to "pommth"! It was fun and a learning process for me too, a first time mother.
I eventually started reading to my toddler but very sporadically. I regret having done so as I wasn't aware of the benefits of reading to a toddler earlier to this and was too engrossed in certain burning issues plaguing my life exactly then. I am writing this hub to let my readers know, especially first-time moms, how wonderfully beneficial and fast the effects of regular reading to my toddler has been over the last 6 months!
My Toddler's Difficulties
My son, who is going to be 5 years old this June, has had an interesting process of emotional developments. Our unfortunate separation had left him clueless and away from a normal family life. The habit of seeing his peers with their fathers made him turbulent within and the inability to express it made things worse. He had mood swings and outbursts that happened at the most unexpected places and times and mostly in front of his peers or my peers which was embarrassing. His outbursts had become stronger and at school, he was getting lonelier by the day.
His teachers called me for several meetings and always communicated to me that he was not normal for a child of his age. My son never showed any interest in interacting or playing with his peers. His teachers were getting worried as his eyes always wandered out of the window and that is where they remained all day. He showed no interest in class-room activities and did not respond to his name when called out several times.
I was distraught - leaving my job in order to spend more time with him was not possible for me and at the same time, the Vice Principal of his school summoned me to show her concern regarding his lack of development. I was at my wit's end because my son behaved most normally at home - prancing and laughing and even playing with kids his age within our residential building. It was a big question to me as to what made him behave that way at school. He could not recognize alphabets and didn't want to write number. He did not want to sing or dance, nor did he want to fiddle with crayons. All this was a big disappointment and posed a terrible question to me - where was I going wrong? I did not know what to say when his teachers pointed to me how capable his peers were.
I have always been a good student and so, having to hear from my son's teachers that he was slowly slipping into a dark abyss of nothingness was very painful for me.
The Bubbles Series Teaches Children Some Basic Good Habits, Etiquette, Social Behaviour and Manners
What Made Me Start Reading To My Toddler
I used to tell stories to my son and very sporadically, read to him. It used to be during bedtime, about 2-3 times a week. Ever since I embraced Buddhism, I have become very unrelenting about obstacles I face. I prayed and chanted for a solution. I chanted to arrive to a solution which can help me propel my son into the right direction at school and make him more attentive. Soon after, one day, a neighbour's friend who had once met my son, sent us a small parcel packed nicely in a beautiful, red tissue paper. I opened the parcel and to my delight, saw 6 books from the Bubbles series. Without a second thought, I figured this was a signal and at once, I called my son to pick and choose one book for himself. My son chose "Bubbles Gets Lost". I read out the book to him that night. The story is mainly in pictures, describing in short dialogues between Bubbles and his mother, how Bubbles gets lost in a shopping mall because he wandered away from her. It was something he listened to intently on day one.
The next day, he chose "Bubbles is Selfish" - a story about how Bubbles learns to share his toys with his friends and not be selfish.
I found the Bubbles series very useful because, in the process of listening to stories, my son picked up these little good habits of not wandering away from my side when I am shopping. It has also taught him that eating too many sweets a day will give him a toothache and that he must brush his teeth everyday before bedtime. Bubbles stories also convey useful habits for toddlers like not playing with fire etc.
For a single mother like myself, these books are a treasure trove as they have taught safe and good habits to my son in a very subtle but deep way through the habit of reading.
The Results of Reading Expressively to Him
It takes a lot to convince my son - he cannot be bought easily and there is a lot of hard work that goes into the smallest things to turn him around. I had to be at my best in terms of expressions while reading out to him during the first few days to get him hooked into the story.
Every night, after dinner and brushing his teeth, I made him choose a book for himself. Sometimes, it used to be very repetitive as he picked up the same book for 3 consecutive days. But I let him be and choose independently.
Slowly, from one book, it went up to 2 books and then 3 and this became an everyday routine. I started asking him questions after reading a particular part or the whole story to him. He started responding and in correct English! He also started adding his own imagination as additional bits and pieces to the story which made perfect sense to me.
While clearing his shelves a couple of months ago, I found some more books which I had bought about 2 years ago but stashed them away as they were too difficult for him to understand then. These books are about common etiquette that one should follow in public places, at home, in the dining table and when in the company of friends and elders.
That evening, I made him choose from those books and he picked up the one called "Etiquette With Guests". It spoke about when, why and how one must say "Excuse Me", "Please", "Sorry" and "Thank You". To my absolute joy, after a couple of days of reading these out to him, I heard him say "Excuse me Mamma, I didn't notice you were behind the door and opened it; Did I hurt you?" I had tears in my eyes when I heard him say this.
The Pepper Series of Story Books Contain Short Stories With Pictures About Table Manners, Friendliness With and Acceptance of Siblings, How to Care For Pets etc
I Was Summoned To His School Again
A month ago, I was again summoned to my son's school - this time, directly by the Vice Principal. I decided to take his grandfather along this time.
I got very anxious and did not know how to react. I chanted a lot and prepared to tell them in clear words that I am willing to withdraw my son from their school if they cannot handle a toddler who is 4.5 years-old.
My hands and feet went cold as I waited with my ex-father-in-law outside the Vice Principal's room. When we were called inside the room, I was apprehensive as the administrator in-charge of the Nursery section too was sitting inside.
Buddhist faith tells me that there is no such obstacle that cannot be removed with chanting and following the Supreme Law of Cause and Effect in this Universe. For an umpteenth number of time, I saw the power of faith work that day. The Vice Principal and Class teacher gave me a big, warm smile and told us that Pratham, my son, was doing much better at school now. He was listening to his teacher attentively and was willing to participate in group activities now.
The teacher even asked me what I did to bring about this change!
The Vice Principal, for the first time, asserted that my son is a reserved, calm and respectful child by nature and that it is the duty of all adults around him to respect his space.
I could not hold back my smile and I readily shared the secret with them - the secret of reading books to him everyday!
Books That Proved Useful To Me
Books that proved very useful to me are as follows:
1. Bubbles Series - Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd
2. Manners Series - Priority Publications
3. Pepper Series - Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd
4. Ladybird Stories For 5 year-olds - www.ladybird.com
5. My Pre-School Library - Shree Book Centre, Mumbai
6. On The Farm - The Book Company, Sydney, Australia
Amazing Story of A Mother Who Tore Off Labels And Nurtured Her Son's Genius
How To Read A Story To Your Toddler
- Be expressive to make it interesting
- It is good to have your toddler sit on your lap while reading. It increases the sense of secured feeling in them.
- Allow your toddler to turn the pages - it will help improve his motor skills.
- Make your toddler repeat parts of the story by asking questions.
- Encourage questions and inputs, even if they interrupt the flow of the story-telling session.
I Discovered Another Amazing And Inspiring Story Of A Mother
Back home, I continued the habit of reading to my son with a lot of renewed vigour and enthusiasm. A couple of weeks ago, I got the above youtube link of Kristine Barnett who went against all odds and stubbornly relied on her instincts to dis-prove what experts said about her autistic child - that he wouldn't talk ever. She wrote a book - “” in which, she has described how her 2 year-old son was dismissed by all experts as incurably autistic. She followed her motherly instincts and found out what Jacob loved the most and surrounded him with only that - only to raise a son who is now 15 years old and whose IQ has been measured to be more than Einstein's. Jacob is already on the way to receiving a Nobel Prize The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism
I quote from Mother's List : “He liked repetitive behaviors. He would play with a glass and look at the light, twisting it for hours on end. Instead of taking it away, I would give him 50 glasses, fill them with water at different levels and let him explore,” she says. “I surrounded him with whatever he loved.”
“As parents, we know in our hearts what our kids need,” she says, “and we need to trust that a little more. Even if that goes against what others are saying.” - Kristine Barnett.
This piece of news and the youtube video inspired me no end to try and follow my instincts and find out what my son loves the most through his activities.
Children's Books on Etiquette Can Really Help Develop a Child's Social Behaviour
Pratham's Last Day At School This Session
On the last day of his school this session, my son's teacher, like the previous year, did not have a long list of complaints against him. She instead asked me to continue reading books to him as much as he likes and with a teary eye, confessed that she is going to miss him.
"Pratham is a very kind and gentle boy and I am really going to miss him," she said. She also told me that he has calmed down and nowadays, makes eye-contact with her and interacts with his friends, that he can count till 20 and can also recognize all alphabets. She informed that his phonics too have improved significantly.
Then she showed me something very interesting - a small book-mark that he had made by sketching some flowers and colouring them with crayons. I can't say that it is a display of talent that goes beyond his age or anything. But the colours and the perfection in its imperfection really made me, for the first time, discover a spark in him too! We walked out buying more books from the book stalls set up that day within the school premises as part of the closing day activities and we came back home happy, looking forward to more story sessions and this time, with the additional activity of drawing, colouring and painting pictures!