The Trying 2’s: How to Raise a Toddler
The Trying 2’s
Raising kids is hard. Raising a toddler; almost impossible. Or so it feels like it some days. We’ve all heard of the terrible 2’s which casts such a negative light on this amazing time in our child’s life. They are still squishy and cute; exploring their world with a fierce need for independence. The picture above is my toddler-I mean look at that face! How could that sweet, beautiful face push my buttons? It may be hard to believe, but that sweet face is the reason why mama needs a margarita every now and then.
Keep Calm and Parent On
Raising a toddler can be the most challenging time in your parental life; however, it is one of the MOST crucial times in your child’s life! Research shows the first three years of a child’s life are crucial for establishing a healthy response to authority and discipline. It’s during these first three years that we need to help our toddlers learn to accept no, learn to follow instructions, and ultimately; make good choices. Many parents say, “Yeah but, can my toddler understand all of that?” The simple answer is yes. Think about it… your toddler is learning EVERYDAY! While I wouldn’t recommend 30-minute lectures at this point, your toddler has the capability to begin making good choices and understanding the consequences behind bad choices. The key to parenting a toddler is your reaction; which should be calm, composed, and not angry. Even when they push your buttons or “throw down” at target, you must remain calm and collected. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but if we can’t control our reactions why would we expect our two-year-old to control his.
Mistakes are okay, even encouraged!
Allowing our children to make small (and safe) mistakes now will ultimately help prevent them from making large regrettable mistakes when they are older and the consequences are much greater. Toddlers are no exception. Allow your toddler to make small, safe mistakes so they can begin to learn how to make better choices. Obviously, I don’t mean anything life threatening (DUH), but situations that call for a choice and a natural consequence. For example, working on picking up toys is a great task for toddlers. If you have a toddler that refuses or pitches a fit then simply state what YOU will do- “I allow kids who clean up after themselves to play with their toys”. This statement is also helping you avoid that power struggle between you and your child. By stating what YOU are going to do, you remain in control and in charge. Your child can choose to not pick up the toys, which is also a choice to then not play with them later. You can enforce this natural consequence and your child will learn if I want to play with my toys I need to pick them up. Now many of you are thinking, my child’s not going to put this together without me explaining it to them. Not true! Kids are smart and can figure stuff out, even from an early age!!!! I’m sure your toddler has already learned a multitude of things that you have never had to explain. They can figure it out and what better way for them to figure it out than by practicing it A LOT!
Practice Makes Perfect… or at least better
Practice, practice, practice should be the theme for the “trying 2’s”. Yes, this will take a lot of time and effort on you, the parent. And yes, you may feel like a broken record; but it’s worth it. Invest in your child and their life by working on these things NOW. This will set up a great parent-child relationship and a foundation for healthy discipline. Many parents tell me, it’s just too hard. I can’t stand to hear them whine, throw a tantrum, etc. Ask yourself this, Am I willing to purposely do something that may upset my child on a short-term basis for the child’s long-term good? If you answered yes, then raise your glass and cheers to making it through the trying 2’s.
Having trouble raising your toddler or any of your kids? Try the Building Blocks Parenting Class: Parenting with Love & Logic.