ADVICE FOR TODDLER PARENTS!
Parents! We hear you, understanding your toddlers emotions & forever blossoming personality is hard to keep up with at times. The toddler era is a magical yet a challenging era to move through as parents. Toddlers face strong emotions which they lack to understand & can have difficulty coping with. Within such a small amount of years, they change from babies to children learning everything for the first time, this can include interacting with other children, speaking their first language, learning how to use a knife & fork, holidays & swimming. The world is literally their oyster, so when we think that things aren’t such a big deal, to them that small thing is their whole entire world, it’s massive!
We have some tips which may help you navigate through some of the tougher days:
1. Re-evaluate bedtime. Majority of toddlers will do anything in their power to avoid bedtime. Just one more minute, that minute turns into an hour of complete faffing around. We have all been there. We may recommend that if you’re finding each night a bit of a nightmare and you have a toddler wide awake, hyperactive and highly sensitive way past their bedtime, instead of keeping them up later to wear them out, start their usual bedtime routine way earlier than their original bedtime, even by half an hour. This might seem a crazy concept as you look up from the screen reading this & its 9pm, your toddler is making a pillow den out of the sofa, screaming every time you mention ‘time for bed now’. We get it. But starting the routine early and having your toddler settled into bed by 6/6.30pm is a result of your toddler not becoming over tired ‘catching a second wind’ which is where a hormone called Cortisol is released, which some call ‘baby red bull’. It is the opposite of hormone melatonin and is designed to keep your child alert & awake. If you can do bedtime prior to this, you will have a smoother, more pleasant bedtime routine. Pre-planning for this tweak in the family routine will set you up for success.
2. Simple yet so effective – water play. Whether it is running them a bubbly bath to play in, giving them a bucket of water in the garden to do a ‘car wash’ (washing their toys), a bucket of water with a paint brush to draw on the garden slabs, a watering can to water the garden flowers – toddlers love water. Water is like magic to them and can entertain them calming any boredom or frustration.
3. Tantrums are totally normal. They are part of their learning to develop, ride through them knowing that your toddler doesn’t necessarily have any control over their reactions, they are trying to navigate the best they can in their tiny bodies. A top tip to empathise with them instead of feeling in a power battle against them is to relate to your toddler as a friend, if a friend came over to your house crying & really upset/frustrated you wouldn’t shout at them, tell them to calm down & get frustrated with them. You would offer advice, stay calm and feel empathy that they are going through a hard time & be there for a hug when they are ready. The same should be applied to your toddler, you are their safe space & are here to love them unconditionally.
4. Get down to their level. When finding it hard to communicate, get down to their level to talk to them. It may help for them to feel like it is not them verses you.
5. Don’t compare your child to anyone else’s child, be rest assured that each child hits milestones at different times. When your child is ready they will get there. They will use a knife and fork, they will go to the toilet independently. Comparing will just make you as a parent unhappy or frustrated.
6. All mess can be cleaned up. You know you have a toddler when your life resembles chaos. The house, car and everywhere in between is messy and unorganised. It is totally normal and every parent of a child will have this understanding. Try and get your toddler involved with tidying up and cleaning up, they love a job & love to feel involved and part of a team – it will take you a lot longer but you are learning valuable lessons & spending time together.
7. Take a walk. No matter the weather. Fresh air does all of us the world of good. Heading outside in the garden, to the park or a walk will make you both feel happier and burn off some energy.
8. Toddlers can be fussy eaters. One day they will eat so much & the very next nothing much at all. It can feel worrying but it is normal to have this varying cycle.
9. Make friends with other parents that have children the same age as yours, it will ground you knowing that there is other families going through the exact same as you. You are not alone, you are not the only parent screaming throughout the day, etc. Even listening to some popular parenting podcasts whilst on a walk makes you feel part of a community of others & they also give you a good laugh too.
10. Whenever you have had a challenging day & once they are tucked up asleep those guilt feelings start creeping in. Just know that even by worrying about being a good parent, shows you are a good parent. You are their whole world and they love you so much.
Share with any toddler parents who might find this helpful!