Toddlers. Generally they are made of equal parts adorableness and unpredictability. Before motherhood, I never knew there were people out there whose composure depended completely upon the color of a juice cup. These same little creatures can be expected to turn down a “yucky” mango but will sneak a slurp of mud the moment your back is turned and act as if it’s a quite natural behavior when caught.
As we all know, they are experimenting with how to conduct themselves and handle big feelings. They do that by imitating others – particularly their caregivers and role models. They have a great, often underestimated capacity to intake information. In fact, a toddler’s ability to do this might be better than our own, given the magic of the formative years.
When my son was 18 months old, we had little other option but to enroll him in preschool. Other mothers warned me to brace myself, because a day-one meltdown is just a fact of daycare. I felt guilty about giving up his nanny and leaving him with strangers. I wanted desperately to prepare us both and possibly avoid what I was told was inevitable. So I started showing him videos of day cares: circle time, kids doing art projects, etc. etc. We sang songs about school, I got him a little backpack, and I took a deep breath.
When I went to leave him on his first day, there were no tears. There were no cries or pleas for mommy not to go. He was totally fine. Even the teachers assured me he’d have a breakdown at some point that day. When I came to pick him up, those same teachers reported that he’d been a happy little scamp the whole time. We were all pleasantly surprised, and it was the same experience thereafter.
Why did that work so well? I imagine most of the problem with new situations for little ones is the sheer terror of it all. This boy knew what he was walking into, and it took that fear of the unknown away. Of course he’s also very secure which is just as important, but it doesn’t get the job done alone. Toddlers appreciate having information in advance, and the trick is delivering it in a way they can comprehend.
Weeks later, I wanted to take my little boy to the dentist without him throwing a raging fit out of fright, so I tried the same technique. Unfortunately I was unable to find any good “My First Dentist Visit” videos. There was very little out there that a toddler could really hang onto. And so an idea was born: create video tutorials simple enough for a toddler to understand. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t already being done. Well, now it is, and the channel is called How-Two Videos.
I am a full grown adult who can read and I still prefer video learning. There’s no interpretation involved in it. Show me what to do so I don’t have to decode what you’re saying.
If you try to describe a walrus to a kid before they’ve ever seen one, they’re just going to look at you blankly or stop listening. Show that kid a picture the beast of blubber-and-tusk and he’s got a better idea. Want the full picture? It’s actually a video. Now he can hear what weird sounds the animal makes, too. It’s the next best thing to real life, and it’s a great precursor to real life experiences, too.
To begin the How-Two Video series, we’ve started with some light topics that set a good home example for little ones. In these videos, your child will see other children helping around the house with laundry, tidying up, feeding pets, etc. The channel will also encourage sharing, proper hygiene habits, and lots of other positive behavior like eating healthy and just generally being nice. Older children act out the videos because that’s who toddlers most like to emulate.
When my son watches “How-Two Help Around the House,” he wants to do everything the girl in the video does. If he has a feather duster in hand, he’s dusting. Or he wants his little broom to sweep along with her, or a paper towel to wipe up pretend spills. The video works. And what’s more surprising is that he requests specific episodes and watches them on repeat. Suddenly I don’t feel so guilty about letting him watch TV.
In the future, we’ll be producing two other types of videos. The first category is about “firsts” – first airplane ride, first haircut, first day of school, etc. These videos will help show your child what he or she can expect ahead of potentially terrifying situations. I strongly believe this will cut down tears in the dentist’s office and reduce stress for both the little tots and their parents.
The third set of videos will be the most serious and are arguably the most needed from parents, which is to explain tough situations and complicated circumstances to the little ones. This idea came from the parents of Reddit, who have repeatedly asked one another how to explain to little ones that a close relative has died. This is a very sensitive subject and a very difficult one to approach as a parent, especially as it is often relevant as the parent is experiencing emotional turmoil as well. This category of videos included subjects like moving away and parental divorce and they are being created with lots of help from subject matter experts including parents who have braved these kinds of hardships in the past.
It is my hope that How-Two Videos will be a fantastic resource for parents and, more importantly, help our little ones understand their worlds a little better so that they’re less scary and confusing. The bite-sized videos are a great information source for little ones. They encourage good behavior, early communication, and close bonds with caregivers. The videos show children that their actions have significance and that they too can positively impact the world.
Please take a moment to check out the videos already posted and subscribe to How-Two Videos so that you can stay informed of future toddler-positive videos. Topic suggestions and constructive feedback left in the comments sections are always appreciated.
How-Two Videos is a brand new YouTube channel that crafts positive messages specifically for toddlers. Its mission is to encourage constructive behavior and communicate complex ideas on the toddler-level.