Once a cuddly, sweet baby, when your child enters toddlerhood that can change in an instant. Suddenly that smiley baby is now a shrieking hot mess in the middle of your living room floor because she wants to eat an entire box of cookies before dinner, or even worse, in the produce section of the supermarket. And if this is your first entry into toddlerhood, it can be pretty daunting.
The good news is that this phase doesn’t last forever. And the bad news is also that it won’t last forever. Before you know it, your toddler will be a big kid with a whole different set of challenges so you’ll have to ride the ever-changing toddler tide and enjoy the ride from the ups to the downs and back again. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you stay as sane as possible during this phase.
1. It happens to every parent
Every child throws a tantrum at some point. Don’t worry about what other people think while your kid is screaming away. All the parents around you are sympathizing with you. Try to see the humor in the situation as well and it will be less stressful.
2. Make rules and stick to them
Children need rules and limits in order to be successful and that needs to start in this phase. While the rules need to be kept simple in toddlerhood, they still need to be enforced. So if you’re out somewhere and your child is behaving nicely, simply tell your child that it’s not OK to act like that and warn them if they don’t stop, you’re leaving. Make good on that if they don’t change their behavior. Caving only teaches them they can keep acting like a total jerk.
3. Praise goes a long way
You don’t need to give little junior a new toy every time he does something right. Heaping on the praise for listening or doing what he was asked to do will help reinforce the good behavior. Children love to make their grown-ups happy and when they get positive attention from their good behavior, it makes them more likely to give a repeat performance.
4. Let them try it themselves
It’s so tempting sometimes to help your child with everything but you need to take a step back and let them try things for themselves, particularly with things like eating and drinking, dressing themselves and experimenting with things that could be messy. Messes are all part of life and kids need to know that.
5. Messes can always be cleaned up
And speaking of messes, it can be extremely annoying when your toddler accidentally knocks his plate of food off his high chair and right onto your freshly-scrubbed floor. Accidents happen, as do intentional demolitions of your very best attempts at keeping the house clean. Children are exceptional at making messes of all kinds and while you shouldn’t let them pile up, enlist your toddler’s help in clean up instead. In this way, you’ll begin to lay the foundation to raising a hard-working child who will strive for greatness in adulthood.