This article has been supplied and reproduced with permission from the Reconnect Psychology Wellness Centre, a 96five community contributor.
Let’s face it … parenting toddlers can be the most amazing, fun, cute, adventurous time of your life … or it can be exasperating! Interestingly the words ‘Terrible Twos’ seems to be an expected part of a toddler’s life—but does it need to be?
It seems that between the ages of around 18 months and three years, toddlers begin to figure out that they can do things for themselves. And they want to try everything by themselves! This is a normal part of growing up. They are finding independence and it can be quite frustrating for some parents. So, what are some tips for parenting toddlers?
Below are a few simple ideas about how to prepare for this journey. If you’re already in it then great—perhaps these suggestions will offer you some new ideas to add to your bag of tricks.
- Be patient.
Slow down! Toddlers do not think like you do. They have been alive for a very short period of time and everything is an exploration. Get into your child’s model of the world. That is, get yourself down on the floor so that your eyes are at the same level and see what they see. Everything is so big down there!
Talk to your child using plain language. Slow down your voice a little and do not yell. If you yell, your toddler will simply yell louder. When talking to your child never look down at them. Try being a child with another adult. Sit on the floor with the adult standing close to you. Now look up. Imagine how your child feels. It’s far nicer for your child to be brought up to your level by putting them on a chair or table or for you to get down on their level; whichever is safer for you both.
- Let them do it.
If it is safe to do so, allow your toddler to try things on their own. If they want to choose an outfit to wear that is mismatched, does it really matter? If you have somewhere special to go, then perhaps choose a couple of outfits and let them choose one. That way they feel like they have some say. Do this the night before to avoid conflict when you are rushing around trying to get ready the next morning. Allowing your child to make choices, helps build confidence in themself and the world around them.
- Choose your battles.
When locked in a dispute with your toddler, always ask yourself, ‘how important is this battle? Is it OK for my child to win this one?’ Sometimes they need to win—it’s good for self-esteem and psychological development. Plus, the more resistant you are to allow independence, the more of a battle you will find yourself in. Conversely, if you do everything for your child they will develop a thinking that they cannot achieve anything on their own.
In the next article, Tips for Parenting Toddlers Part 2, we will be discussing five more tips to equip you during this time with your toddlers. These tips include: reflect feelings back to them, tell them what is going on, play with them, turn off the screen and watch what you feed them.
Leanne Allen (BA Psych), is the principal psychologist at Reconnect Psychology Wellness Centre.