Have you noticed your child lining up their toy cars? Or maybe they take their spoons and forks out of their drawer and place them on the ground in a straight line? Havvie has been doing this on and off with her materials for a while. She has done this with her cleaning cloths, her cutlery sets and more recently her cleaning equipment.
This is a very visual reminder of the sensitive period for order that all children go through. Toddlers are often described as messy and disorderly. While it’s true, they like to engage in activities through all of their senses and are quite enthusiastic about it, they also have a strong need for order and calm in their environment. This order is how they can define their world and predict what happens next, which gives them some sense of peace and control.
There are many ways you can create order in your child’s environment:
- Have a place for everything and everything in it’s place. This means toys, art materials, books, cutlery, clothing and everything else your child uses goes into a dedicated spot. Over time, they learn this is where things go and will find what they need and put it back in its spot by themselves.
- Establish a routine, not a schedule. Toddlers thrive on consistent routines that allow them to predict what happens next. This can be a morning self care routine, a meal time routine, a bedtime routine. The repeatability of of the routine is what makes it comfortable for toddlers.
- If they’re lining up toys, let them do it to their heart’s content. There’s no need to think of other activities they can do as they’ve already found what they need.
- When there is a change in routine try to prepare the child by warning them of what’s going to be different ahead of time. It may not always work but at least the sense of surprise will diminish.