I think the toddler stage is pretty entertaining most of the time... especially if you've watched another child go through it and know that they eventually move through the different challenging stages and grow up a bit.
Every toddler is different and moves in and out of stages at a different pace. Some won't hit, some won't bite, some won't throw huge tantrums, some won't ever run away from you in a public place, some won't yell or blatantly disobey you, some won't color all over your walls, some won't cry every time you leave their side, etc. Some toddlers will do everything mentioned above and then more. If you are blessed with a toddler that skips doing some (if not all) of these things, be happy and try not to judge the rest of us.
One thing I've noticed as a parent is that every time I say out loud, "____ has never done ____" I can pretty much guarantee that he'll start doing it the following week or sometime soon. So I like to stay quiet and enjoy the happy easy stages and then I spend a lot of time praying and reading during the harder ones to figure out what I am doing wrong!
As a teacher of children with severe behavior disorders for many years, I sometimes thought parenting would be a piece of cake. While my background and experience has definitely helped me as a parent, I still feel like I have a lot to learn on a day to day basis.
As I'm entering my 35th week of pregnancy and baby #3 will be arriving soon, I am a little bit tired... and I figured some of you might be tired parents too, so I'm going to share a few favorite toddler parenting resources with you that are hopefully helpful, along with a few parenting tips that have been useful to me lately. They are not anything new, just good reminders for me. Please share your tips if you have them too!
1. Save your energy and don't judge other parents.
The more I get to know other parents, the more I realize, everyone is mostly just trying their best. I feel like people are constantly looking at my crazy toddler, energetic 4 year old, and my pregnant belly and are thinking, "How does she think she is going to handle another kid?" To be honest, I don't know... but I sure am going to work really hard to be the best mom that I can be anyway. When I feel like I am judging other moms that I see parenting differently than me, I try to step back and look at my own weaknesses as a parent and focus on them instead. I am definitely not perfect... so why waste my energy on others when I could be working on making myself better?!
2. Find your reset button.
As a tired mom I need a way to reset our day if it is going off track quickly and I am a huge grump. Running laps around our cul-de-sac or going on a spider hunt always makes my kids happier. Eating some chocolate always helps me too. 🙂
3. Say sorry and be willing to compromise.
We aren't always right as parents. We'll make mistakes, we'll say silly things, and sometimes we'll set limits that are unfair or unreasonable. Instead of enforcing them because we feel like we'll lose face, sometimes we just need to acknowledge that we were wrong or we need to compromise because sometimes our kids are actually right or come up with a good idea.
4. Say Yes.
I have to remind myself that I won't lose complete and utter control of my kids if I say yes sometimes. Yes, if they ask for an M&M when they notice me sneaking them 🙂 Yes, if they ask me to read a book with them and I'm trying to hurry and get the laundry done. Life is happier when I say, "yes" and my "no's" actually mean more because I am not saying them all the time.
5. Learn about setting effective limits and then practice!
Setting limits and finding appropriate consequences or allowing your child to experience the natural consequences of their actions is tough... especially while still being a loving empathetic parent! I am constantly practicing this and re-teaching myself.
- How to Set Effective Limits for your Child is a great article by AHA Parenting. It talks through how to set limits with empathy. One of the things that I have learned a lot about over the past few years is how to set limits while still acknowledging my child's feelings... which are sometimes really negative because she doesn't like my limits. I have also learned a lot about how to set effective limits so that my kids don't feel like I am unfair and constantly just making rules. This article is filled with so much great information that you'll want to read it more than once.
- 4 Challenging Behaviors and 4 Ideas for Dealing with Them by Parenting Starts Here shares some typical toddler behaviors and some clearly written ways to deal with them. In the hustle and bustle of parenting it is easy to forget some of the simplest strategies. My favorite reminder in this post is, "Forgive yourself, apologize and move forward! If you become frustrated by your toddler’s behaviors and respond in a way that doesn’t match up to your expectations of yourself, take a deep breath and a break if needed."
- Biting, Hitting, Kicking, and Other Challenging Toddler Behavior by Janet Lansbury is filled with great reminders about how we can respond to these challenging behaviors in a positive controlled way so that children feel safe. Taking behaviors like these personally can negatively impact how we respond... instead we need to remember that the behavior is our child's call for help and this perspective can allow us to gain the confidence and patience that we need to deal with the situation in a calm way.
- Getting rid of "NO!"- This guest post by Jillian of A Mom with a Lesson Plan over at The Little Stories shares some easy ways to minimize the word NO in your toddler's vocabulary. I am a huge fan of focusing on the positive and telling kids what to do instead of what NOT to do, so this article has some great reminders!