For the most part, parenting toddlers is a fun and rewarding time in a child’s life. It can also be frustrating at times, with occasional moments of sheer terror. The following are some tips to help you navigate this challenging time.
1. Take a deep breath
Medical intern graduates are often given the following advice on how to handle themselves in a medical emergency: “First take your own pulse.”
This advice also applies when a toddler is acting out or having a meltdown.
Things generally go better if you stay calm and don’t raise your voice. Behavior is a form of communication. Try to understand what is triggering the behavior. As difficult as it can be, try not to take things personally.
The best form of discipline is the use of a brief time out- just a few minutes. I do not recommend hitting children. This teaches them that when you are angry, you hit someone.
No matter how many timeouts they have been in that day, try to finish on a good note with a bedtime story and hug. They get a clean slate the next day and you will sleep better (which you will need).
2. Use redirection
Toddler’s hate the word “no.” Sometimes you have to use it, but redirection often works better. If you want them to stop doing something, offer something more fun. If you don’t want them to touch something, keep it out of site or offer something more interesting.
Toddlers are clever and can get into things in ways that surprise you. Use gaits where you need them, put things up and out of site, and keep the child within view as much as possible. They like to climb, so make sure furniture like bookshelves are anchored to the wall. Pay attention to what is at eye level. Toddlers want to explore their world and are curious about everything.
3. Boundaries = security
Toddlers are looking for you to set limits and they feel more secure when you do that consistently. Sometimes a child will reach towards an object and look right at you to see what you will do. They are looking for you to set the boundaries.
4. Children thrive on consistency and routine
It helps to keep a consistent routine. Toddlers do best when they know what to expect. Try to have the same meal times, nap times, bed times and stick to a schedule as much as possible.