Q: My 2-year-old gets into everything! I am trying to be patient, but it's frustrating. Yesterday, she dug her hands into a plant in the living room and got dirt everywhere. What can I do?
A: I know this age can be very trying. Remember to be patient with yourself as well. Two-year-olds are learning so much about the world around them. They are mobile and quickly developing language. They want to interact with everything in their environment. This is normal.
Some children are more tactile than others. Some really like to touch and manipulate every object they can get their hands on. This is how they learn. Think about your home as a wonderful learning experience for your child. How can you help her "get into" as much as possible while staying safe and making messes you can deal with?
For the plant, maybe move it to a higher shelf and then let her explore with a bucket of dirt and a trowel outside or in a dish tub on the kitchen floor. Putting down an old sheet before setting up messy play can make cleaning up easier. Go on a walk, and pick some weeds or wildflowers for her to look at and take apart.
Another tactile play idea is to put a scoop of salt on a cookie tray and let her explore drawing in it. A gentle shake of the tray erases.
Kids love to scoop and pour, so consider giving her a dish tub with different sizes of containers and scoops. Alternate water, salt, birdseed, sand, oats, or anything else you can imagine she would like to feel. Adding water to any of these makes it even more fun.