Toddlerhood can be very exciting, but also extremely challenging times for many moms, myself included.
One day things can go very smoothly while we hit a bumpy road the next.
We’ve all been there.
Getting ready to get out of the house, rushing to put on shoes and coats when all of a sudden our toddler has a meltdown because we didn’t zip up his coat all the way. Such a “trivial” thing, right?
When my boys entered toddlerhood, I was in shock for about three days. I felt as if somebody sneaked into the house in the middle of the night and cast a spell on my super calm sweet babies! I couldn’t stop wondering what had happened.
Of course, I blamed myself!
Do you do that too?
I was sure it was my fault. I believed I was not doing things right and I didn’t understand my toddlers’ needs anymore. Luckily I tend to reach out to my friends and ask for help.
Also read: Ins and outs of potty training a toddler boy or 5 different ways to potty train a toddler
A positive parenting book worth your attention
My good friend and a fellow mom recommended a book called No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame.
And ever since I read it, I cannot recommend this book enough. I’ve learned a lot about toddlers in general and how to deal with many of the typical toddler behaviors.
Here are my five most favorite points I try to remember every day:
1. Toddlers act on impulse
Toddlers lack control of their impulses, by all means.
Their brains are not fully developed yet. Add the high emotional sensitivity and you have a recipe for a typical toddler behavior.
They get easily overwhelmed and act on impulses bigger and stronger than themselves².
You can probably see this in your child every single day. Throwing things out of a blue, dropping food on the floor, grabbing everything they see. It never ends.
It doesn’t mean, however, that we should ignore or not correct the behavior. The key is to do it in a gentle, respectful manner by setting clear boundaries and limits. And then following through.
The idea of impulsive behavior helped me to finally understand that my toddlers are not getting back at me. I realized that they are not trying to hurt me or make my day a nightmare.
Sometimes, they simply can’t help it.
2. All toddlers push limits
And it is almost our duty not to take it personally.
But I very well know how hard that is. Staying calm when our toddler keeps hitting us or his sibling is extremely difficult. At least at first. But practice makes things easier.
Pushing limits and testing boundaries is normal and typical for toddlers. It is the course of human development taking place. Through testing us and the world around them, toddlers are developing a sense of self.
Therefore establishing healthy boundaries for our children is one of the most important tasks of parenting.
But sometimes we are simply afraid to set firm limits. Nobody wants to be the “bad guy”.
But once we manage to create clear firm rules about our toddlers’ behavior, they won’t have a need to test them as often. They learn and move on.
3. Stay honest and authentic
It was almost a revolutionary idea for me.
It means that we should talk to our toddlers in a manner they can understand, but being honest and open at the same time.
Therefore when I am tired of let’s say picking my boys up, I openly tell them that “I am tired of picking you up. I need to take a break now.”
Many of us would rather completely distract their attention to something else, tell them that “Mommy has an owie” or “We can do it later” (but forget). I used to do this all the time!
But honesty is extremely liberating, for our children and for us.
We don’t need to be coming up with nonsensical excuses anymore. And our children don’t need to be guessing what is going on. We can simply share our honest feelings. We are human beings too, after all.
No matter how small the child is, direct and open communication is the way to go.
4. Love them intensely
Even during the craziest of the days, we can’t forget to love and actually express our love to our toddlers.
Withholding love from children for their misbehavior is going to have damaging and long-lasting consequences¹.
Remember, our children don’t need to earn our love.
Our love and acceptance is not a piece of candy they receive after they did a “good job”. And I know deep down that most parents know this. We all love our children no matter what. Just sometimes we fall short of showing it.
Even when our toddlers misbehave, they still need to hear that we love them.
After I discussed this idea with a friend of mine, she soon called me with a story about her son. He was refusing to eat and was crying and fussing a lot. She felt miserable and lost. But then she just looked him in the eyes and told him “I love you anyway, darling“. To her surprise, he stopped his tantrum that very moment.
5. You are your child’s leader
“Our children love, appreciate, and need us more than they can ever say”²
In the frenzy of toddler’s emotions, we parents are their safe haven. They look up to us for guidance and understanding.
Therefore our reactions matter.
If we feel unsure, lose our temper or keep getting frustrated with our child’s behavior, this will very likely cause it to happen over and over again.
And on top of that, we add fuel to the fire. We confuse and stress our toddler even more.
Instead, we need to learn to respond to our child calmly, as a matter of fact. Lansbury has a special term for it “lead like a CEO“. Stay calm, say your requests respectfully and clearly and then follow through.
It all takes practice but it’s absolutely worth it in the long run.
Still not sure how to deal with your toddler?
I know from my own experience how challenging it is to deal with toddler’s impulsive and unpredictable behavior. After all, I am raising two toddlers at once!
And I am the first one to admit when things are not going too well. Therefore I never stop looking for ways to improve and better my parenting skills and the relationships with my kids.
For this reason, I’ve recently signed up for Positive Parenting Solutions course and I’ve already seen amazing results with my toddler twins. Just check out their FREE webinar and see for yourself. It might be a great fit for your family as well.
And please, don’t despair if you feel like nothing you do is working. HELP IS OUT THERE, I promise! There are many other books, seminars, and articles to fit your parenting style to help you be the best mom you can be. Our kids are totally worth the effort!