We all know the toddler years can be full of fits, frustration, and total meltdowns. We even have terms coined terms for these years - The Terrible Twos and Threenanger.
But despair not, parents, not every day has to be a temper tantrum nightmare. I have 5 positive parenting tips to make your AND your toddler's day a little bit easier
1. Prepare for what's coming
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Recently, we had to give our son some iron drops. The first time we did it, it was awful. It ended in a lot of tears. We had to force the drops down his throat, and I felt so bad.
The second time we did it, we snuck it into his milk, but he wasn't born yesterday. He knew the milk tasted funky, and he refused to drink milk for a couple of days.
The third day, I realized what we did wrong. We didn't prepare him for what was to come. So, I sat him down and showed him a video with kids taking medicine.
I let him hold the medicine bottle and dropper. I talked in simple to understand language about taking medicine.
Guess what? It worked wonderfully! In fact, now he loves taking his medicine. I still cheer every time he does it because it makes him so happy.
Prepare your toddler for what is to come. Doctor visits, dentist appointments, an airplane flight, Sunday church, etc.
Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Michelle Tangeman, agrees.
Setting clear expectations in any given situation. Before walking into a situation that might possibly trigger behaviors in your toddler, do your best to set very clear expectations on what they can and cannot do, and follow it up with some reward if they follow your instructions! (Wilde, Koegel, & Koegel, 1992)
2. Gossip about Your toddler within earshot
While getting our son to take his medicine, I would gossip to his stuffed animal, Prayer Bear, every night before bed.
I would say, "Guess what Henry did today, Prayer Bear? He took his medicine! He is such a big boy! I was so proud!"
I would exaggeratedly whisper this loudly to his little bear making sure Henry heard me. He would beam and get excited!
Toddlers love this when they "catch" their parents gossiping about how good they have been.
Read more about gossiping in depth here
3. Set a timer
Toddler's have no concept of time, so they need a visual or auditory cue for when something is about to start or end.
Either use the timer on your phone and give it a fun name like Mr. Dinger or buy a sand one and then set it to go off to let your toddler know when an activity is finished.
Use a timer for
4. Play the fool
Toddlers don't get a lot of wins in their day. Mom and Dad are constantly telling them what they can and cannot do. Toddlers need a win. It builds confidence and improves their self esteem.
What to do? Play the fool. Or, as Dr. Harvey Karp calls it, play the boob.
How do you do this? It's simple. Make a silly mistake over and over and then let your toddler be the one to correct you.
"Does your shoe go on your head? No? Silly, Mommy!"
"Where's Henry? Is he under the block? No! Is he behind the pillow? No! Where could he be?"
Your toddler will be grinning in no time at how much smarter he is than Mommy or Daddy.
5. Practice patience
Toddlers have no concept of what it means to be patient or wait. To set them up for success and prevent fewer tantrums, start practicing building up their patience in this practice of patience stretching.
When they want something, act like you are going to give it to them, but then at the last second slap your forehead and say, "Oh wait, Mommy forgot something. She will be right back. Wait. Wait Wait." Usually, I throw the sign language in for "wait" too.
Then, I turn my back on my son and count to 5. After counting, I turn back around and give my son what he wants and applaud him for his "good waiting." Gradually, I work up to 10 seconds of waiting.
This might sound cruel to you, but this is actually teaching your toddler how to be patient for those times when you really can't be at his or her beck and call. If she gets frustrated during this time, teach her how to take "Magic Breaths" to make the waiting easier.
Hope these tips help! Leave some of your positive parenting strategies in the comments. And subscribe to get more positive parenting and sleep strategies.
Buy Dr. Karp's book to get more positive parenting strategies.
I go into depth on 70+ strategies that you can try with your child that have been proven to work in my parenting guide Now What? Mindful Parenting Checklists for Life's Hard Moments . You can try Module 5 for free below.
*Module 1: My Child Won’t Listen (Greenlight Behavior). Now What?
*Module 2: My Child Is Whining (Yellow Light Behavior). Now What?
*Module 3: My Child is Hitting, Kicking, Biting, Throwing (Redlight Behavior). Now What?
*Module 4: My Child Won’t Go to Bed. Now What?
*Module 5: My Child is in the Middle of a Tantrum. Now What?
*Module 6: My Child Won’t Eat. Now What?
*Module 7: My Child is Scared/Anxious. Now What?
*Module 8: My Child Prefers One Parent. Now What?
*Module 9: My Child Gives Up Easily. Now What?
*Module 10: My Child Won’t Play Independently. Now What?
*Bonus Module: Some Thoughts on Screen Time