Creative Child

How to Survive Your Toddler’s Obsessions

by Brittany Ferrell

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When offering choices, try not to offer more than two. At this age, too many choices becomes overwhelming. Present two choices that you are okay with. Attempting to get your toddler to choose the option you would prefer is a losing battle that will most likely backfire in epic proportions.

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Offering choices allows you to gently guide your child towards a different obsession or limit the amount of time he/she spends obsessing. For example, “You can watch Frozen or we can go play outside.” Or “You can watch one episode of Curious George and then you can read or play with your toy.” These choices allow your child to make their own decisions regarding their time and behavior. Melt downs and tantrums will also occur less frequently because your toddler will able to maintain a certain amount of control.

Embrace It!

You know the phrase, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em?” Sometimes it is best to embrace the toddler obsession rather than fight it. Your toddler’s obsession may actually provide some insight into areas of interest as to what your child is really curious about. For example, I realized that my daughter was not obsessed with jaunty snowmen per say; she was actually captivated with the music and songs. Instead of “accidentally” deleting the Frozen soundtrack from iTunes, I belt out every song along with my daughter. I also play a variety of other genres of music and offer her musical instruments to explore. If your toddler does happen to be fixated on Frozen at the moment, consider trying some of these Frozen movie crafts.

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In another example, my daughter developed a random preoccupation with the color blue, in which everything around her had to be blue or we boarded the fast train for Melt Down City. I finally realized, as I contemplated adding blue food coloring to all of her food, that she was just inquisitive about color in general. She wanted to know the difference between blue and purple and why it is called “blue” but there are different shades and variations with entirely different names, like “teal” and “turquoise”. I slowly stepped away from the food coloring and instead grabbed books, finger paints, and created several color sorting activities.

When your toddler embarks on his/her next fixation, ask yourself what that fascination actually means. Being riveted by Paw Patrol could be an interest in animals or an early love of helping others. An obsession with cars could mean that your child has a desire to learn how things move and work. Furthermore, a sudden craving to eat nothing but a particular food could indicate a missing nutrient in your child’s diet.

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Try not to overlook a toddler obsession as a passing fancy and instead use it as an opportunity to teach your child something new or inspire a lifelong passion. You never know, you might also develop a new hobby!

When you feel like your house and your life has been invaded by Elsa and the gang, Legos, or toy cars, just take a deep breath and know that you can and will survive! Try setting boundaries that both you and your child can live with. Offer limited choices, when possible, to guide their decision making and behavior. Do not be afraid to just let your hair down and dive right in! These intense fascinations could allow you to develop some insight into your child’s multiple intelligences, as well as his/her future interests and passions. If all else fails, know that next week your little one will be embracing a brand new toddler obsession!

Brittany Ferrell has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Education. She has worked as an elementary school teacher for twelve years and was awarded "Teacher of the Year" 2011. In February 2014, Brittany and her wonderful husband, Jerome welcomed their miracle, Madeline Olivia to the world and she has chronicled her struggle to become a parent in her published memoir, "From Dream to Dream Come True: My Journey to Motherhood". Brittany writes about her fairy tale dream come true of motherhood on her blog, A Mama Tale.

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