20 Feb Have A Positive Life With Your Toddler
Toddlers (ages 15 months – 36 months) are at a wonderful point in their development. If you have a toddler and you’re reading this, you must think I’m crazy to say that. Hear me out on this…There is a way to have a positive life with your toddler.
At this point in their lives, toddlers make a huge developmental leap. You will notice that you can’t distract them as easily, and it’s become harder to get your toddler to comply with your wishes. Although frustrating, the reasons behind it are truly wonderful.
It’s during this period of development that your child blooms into a little person, with wants, likes, feelings, opinions, etc. How difficult this part of your toddler’s development will be, is partly up to how you handle it.
- Are you able to allow your toddler some independence, while still being a supporting force, and not take it personally if they don’t need your help with everything?
- Can you set reasonable, age-appropriate limits and enforce them, while staying empathetic to the fact that your toddler won’t always get what he wants?
- Are you ready to handle the varying degree of emotions that a toddler feels?
Let’s look at what is happening at this age and stage:
- Very fast brain development, while obtaining a growing vocabulary
- Balancing the need to stay close to you, while exploring the world to attain what he wants
- Development of self – learning how to get his needs met
- Learning about play; how, when and with who – and how to safely do it with other children
- Picking up social cues from those around him
What does your toddler need from you at this stage?
- As a parent, you need to help your toddler learn what they have control over, such as his body, and be able to express what their needs are. Example: hungry, tired, the need to use the bathroom.
- A routine helps your toddler feel secure because they will know what to expect. Each toddler reacts differently to deviations in the routine, and trial and error will help you find a way to ensure that your toddler feels in control of his emotions. Structure and limits are equally important to help your toddler feel safe, because although at times they might not like it, they know you’re in charge.
- Your toddler needs to know that you hear him and understand his point of view, even if you don’t agree with it. By staying connected with your toddler when emotions are running high, he will know that you love him just the way he is, and learn that it’s okay to not always get what he wants.
What can you do to make your life more peaceful and positive during this stage of your child’s life?
Avoid power struggles as much as you can. This can’t be stressed enough. Your toddler will test you on this one. He will try to assert himself to feel some sort of power as he becomes more independent. Pick your battles parents – you have a long way to go.
Example – your toddler wants to wear the most bizarre combination of clothing to go to your parent’s house, and you want him to wear the new outfit you bought for the occasion. Look at the big picture and decide if this is important enough to possibly ruin your day, and pre-empt numerous outbursts from your toddler. Some things matter – some things don’t, and each family has different opinions about what those are…none are wrong.
Handle tantrums before they happen. Tantrums are completely normal at this stage in a child’s life. Outbursts happen when your toddler is hungry, tired, bored, or feeling a bit disconnected from you. By making sure that your toddler is fed before you head out, or has a nap before friends come over, you will reduce his tantrums dramatically. Sometimes the world is just too much for your toddler, it’s during those times that some quiet time cuddling with you is just what the doctor ordered.
Be creative! Toddlers don’t like being told what to do, but they love to play. Make bath time or bedtime fun. Be a train, and “drive” the choo-choo to the tub or to their room. Have races to the car (if it’s safe) or sing a special song while you buckle him into the car seat.
Encourage empathy. Model empathy with your child and use everyday situations to teach it to him. By learning empathy, toddlers are able to share better, and are less likely to hit or hurt other children.
Use age-appropriate positive discipline. For toddlers, it means setting limits, use redirection, empathize, talk things out, and be there for him when he has the inevitable meltdown. Stay calm at all costs. Screaming and shaming your toddler will set him up for defiance and violence.
Lastly…Model the behavior you expect from your toddler and enjoy your positive life!