Do you sometimes look at your peacefully sleeping toddler and wonder how you are going to get through the day when they wake up? Where do they get so much energy from? You feel exhausted just thinking about all the running around they do in a single day. That’s the thing about toddlers – they come into our lives wild and free, full of life and love and curiosity. So how can we as parents harness all that energy and guide our toddler in the right direction without dampening their spirit and their zest for life? This is the privilege and challenge that every parent must face. If you have a toddler in your life right now, here are ten taming tips that can help you through this terrific time.
1. Treat the terrible tantrums
Toddlers tend to be notorious for their tantrums and for saying ‘No’. See this as your child’s way of trying to gain control of their lives and develop some independence. Allow them to make choices as long as their health, safety or other’s rights are not compromised. Tantrums can also happen when kids are tired, hungry or overstimulated. So you can pre-empt a lot of the tantrums by thinking ahead and making sure that your toddler has sufficient sleep times, regular healthy meals or snacks and peaceful, calm times without the TV or radio blaring.
2. Be consistent with consequences
Your toddler is intensely testing the boundaries of his or her world, exploring what is acceptable and what is not. When the rules are broken, then appropriate consequences need to be used in order for learning to take place. So whatever consequences you have chosen, please be consistent with them, otherwise you toddler may become confused. Or rather, they will learn that they can get away with stuff which is probably not what you want to teach them.
3. Be affectionate and demonstrative
As foundational as rules, boundaries and consequences are, it is also important to shower your toddler with lots of affection and attention. Their vocabulary is still developing and one of the best ways they can learn is through all their senses. Loving affection is especially important after they have been particularly difficult or thrown a tantrum – reassure them with a hug and a cuddle so that they know you still love them and you want to go forward together in a better way.
4. Don’t let food be a stress factor
Some toddlers can be so busy having fun and exploring their world that food is really not on their priority list. So don’t worry – when they are hungry they will let you know. All you need to do is provide healthy food, and let your toddler feed himself. Don’t fuss if he messes a bit – just put a mat under the high chair. And don’t force him to finish up everything. You may find that your toddler suddenly feels hungry at bedtime, so a healthy snack during story time could be the perfect solution.
5. Let them help with household chores
Now that your baby is mobile, starting to talk and becoming more competent by the day, this is the ideal time to get them started on the household chores! Toddlers will often be very eager to help, so don’t discourage them or fob them off. A little investment of time and teaching at this age will pay off with huge dividends in later years if you have started training them early. So pull up a chair or bench at the kitchen counter and let your little one enjoy making a sandwich, peeling an egg or wiping off the counter top. They can also help with sweeping or dusting and some yard or garden work.
6. Don’t force the potty training
Potty training is another topic which can be fraught with tension and stress, especially if you try to do it too soon. Rather wait till your child is ready and giving you signs that he or she is interested. This can happen naturally if your toddler is around other kids who have already been potty trained, then he or she will quickly want to imitate them.
7. Accept your child’s personality
Your child’s personality begins to unfold and develop from day one. Parents who try to change or modify their child’s innate personality can cause a lot of stress for themselves as well as for their toddler. So if you have a naturally introverted and cautious little one – don’t spend your days trying to jolly them along and get them to do stuff they don’t feel comfortable with. Conversely, your extroverted, adventurous child needs to be given free reign, within safe and healthy boundaries.
8. Don’t over explain things
You may be eager to impart all your wisdom and knowledge to your precious child, but remember their understanding is still developing. So keep your explanations simple and to the point, especially if you want them to follow instructions or if you are setting the rules in place. Don’t enter into long discussions when it is time for action. Toddlers can tend to ask a lot of questions, so keep your answers to bite-size portions within the scope of their understanding.
9. Read, read, read
It is never too early to start reading to your child. Bedtime is the perfect opportunity to read a page or two or look through a picture book with your toddler. You will be instilling a vital love of books from a young age which will stand them in excellent stead for their future. Once your child learns to read for themselves they will already have the good foundation of being familiar with books and reading.
10. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Raising kids is not for cowards, and chances are you are doing a great job. Hard times are normal and there are going to be those days when it feels like everything is going wrong. Tantrums, accidents, missed nap times and broken or lost toys are all part and parcel of the toddler years, so don’t be hard on yourself and think you must be doing something wrong. Just keep on taming your toddler and enjoying your kids because pretty soon they will grow beyond the toddler stage.