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I 12 Chapter 1 Who Toddlers Are, and Aren’t It’s easy to think of toddlers simply as being in between infants and preschool- ers—middle children, in a sense. But toddlers aren’t old babies or immature three-year-olds, and when you look at them like that you deprive them of being who they are and deprive yourself of appreciating and enjoying who they are. If you think of them as older infants or younger preschoolers, you will set up a program that is in many ways not interesting or challenging or one that is too sophisticated and may frustrate them. Either way, adults can easily develop negative views of toddlers, seeing them as terrible instead of terrific. So what’s a toddler teacher to do? Think of the toddler stage of development as one of great merit, having its own particular characteristics, strengths, and needs. Here are some of the not-so-positive generalizations that many people make about toddlers and a toddler’s response to those thoughts, if she could tell you. As you read through the statements, try to think about how you could take that seemingly negative attribute and convey it in a positive way. A Toddler’s Response to the Not-So-Positive Things People Say about Toddlers winning ways Toddlers are often messy. A toddler’s response: “I sometimes look like a mess, too, with sticky hands and a goopy face. I learn with all my senses, and being messy and getting messy is what I do.” Toddlers are stubborn. A toddler’s response: “I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I’m exploring the world. I have things I want to do too. Don’t you feel that way sometimes?” Toddlers are unable to share. A toddler’s response: “I have to learn to experi- ence ownership before I can learn to share. Do you share everything? Would you let another adult drive your new car or wear your expensive jewelry?” Toddlers are not good listeners. A toddler’s response: “I can’t always under- stand everything you are telling me to do. Sometimes you give me too many directions at once. Sometimes you are asking me to do something that is too hard for me. And sometimes I am just busy with my work.” Toddlers often get frustrated. A toddler’s response: “I do get frustrated a lot. I can’t always tell you what I want with my words, and figuring out how things work in this world is a difficult job. Think about how you feel when you can’t get your computer to work.”