My two-year son sat down on the beach, took off his sandals,
wiped the sand off of his feet, and then put his sandals back on. He stood up, took five steps. Then he complained again, “Sand!” He sat down, and repeated the process.
We had made it about five feet from the boardwalk. The ocean was looking very far away indeed!
Playing in sand was a favorite task at home as he often
played for hours at our sand and water play table. But apparently, real life sand at a beach on
his feet was just too messy for him.
Children generally are fascinated with sand and water play
activities. However, some children go
through a phase where they do not like to get dirty.
This is usually not a sign of a medical problem, but rather
a phase when children are developing their tactile, or touch, sense. Touch is an important sense that helps us
to determine how to interact with and move in our environment. We explored our world thought our many senses
As this sense develops, toddlers may not like certain
sensations (such as sand between their toes). This is an important step because it shows that they can determine the
differences between types of textures, such as soft, mushy, crunchy, hard or
Eventually, most children learn to adapt to various
textures, and the negative emotional responses (fear or anxiety) to innocent
textures (such as sand) go away. Whereas, some reponses may remain such as fear of hot or sharp
surfaces. These are protective responses
that keep us safe.
So, do not worry if your toddler does not love walking in
the sand at the beach or enjoy activities that may involve getting dirty, like
finger painting. This is an important
developmental step that will change forms as he grows. Just reassure him about touching things that
are not dangerous or off limits. You
help him adjust to these textures in a manner that is acceptable to him. For example, my son enjoyed sitting on a
beach towel and playing in sand next to the towel. He was happy, the family enjoyed our beach
trip and my son’s feet were clean!