Your toddler now
Fear of loud noises sometimes surfaces unexpectedly. Your 16-month-old may cower, cry, and act downright terrified at the sound of a vacuum cleaner, a thunderstorm, a siren, fireworks, or a popping balloon.
Offer calm reassurance. A hug and an acknowledgement of his feelings – "Wow, that was a scary surprise, wasn't it?" – may be sufficient. Show your child how he can cover his ears to give him some control. Your toddler will eventually outgrow a fear of noises as he gains an understanding of where they come from and that they're harmless.
My 16-month-old wants my attention most when I am busy in the kitchen, so to keep him occupied, I give him empty plastic jars with screw-on lids. He can play with them for a full 20 minutes, which leaves me free to start dinner without him (or me) having a meltdown.
Tuning in to temperament
You've been picking up clues to your child's temperament from the day he was born. The way your 16-month-old interacts with the world around him will tell you a lot about how he'll probably respond to different situations, people, places, and things as he gets older.
Your child might be flexible and adapt easily to change – or he may need a more predictable schedule and plenty of advance warning before transitions. Pay attention to what works best for him. You know your child better than any book does.
For example, if your child functions best on a solid afternoon nap, try to make sure he gets one. If he's reserved in new situations, give him extra time to warm up rather than insisting that he hug people he meets. He's depending on you to help him feel comfortable. By respecting his needs, you can help him learn to deal with the world.
Sometimes you can modify your child's environment in small ways to help him stay engaged and avoid meltdowns. That said, it's not your job to make life fun and free of frustration. Your child will get upset and dissolve into tears and tantrums. It's all a normal part of how kids learn and grow, so don't take it personally!
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