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MomTalk.com November 24, 2017:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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Toddlers - Tempest in a Tot

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By Anne Harth

Toddlers.


They can make your knees wobble, your palms sweat and your smile quiver.


Having a toddler is undoubtedly hard work but it can be as blissful as it is difficult. With patience, planning and lots of love, your efforts will help your toddler feel secure and important as he continues his developmental journey. He will take his first steps toward self-discipline and trust you to guide him through this time of wonder, learning and joy.


Why do these small individuals have so much power over the people who love them? How do you live with toddlers and, not only ensure that you both survive, but that you guide them toward the next phase of independence?


Strategies
Those hard-to-handle toddler behaviors aren't personal attacks on your parenting skills. Your toddler is not out to get you. He is simply growing up and asking for your help.


So what do you do? How do you support your child through his toddler years?


Create a safe environment. Toddler-proofing your house will greatly reduce the number of skirmishes between you and your child. Create large areas that are fun, safe and escape-proof. Toddlers thrive on having freedom within protected limits. Remove all breakables and anything that could be potentially harmful. Offer different toys or a drawer filled with plastic containers. When you are confident that your child is safe and happy, you will find that you can almost relax for minutes at a time.


Provide Routine. Bedtime is a good example. Whether you read to your toddler before he brushes his teeth or while he snuggles into bed, he will look for consistency in the steps that lead him toward sleep. He will be comfortable and more willing to settle after he has completed a familiar ritual.


Choose your battles. It's easy to get into the habit of saying 'no.' Unfortunately, 'no' to a toddler can be like a red flag to a bull. While the safety of a child must never be compromised, some 'no's are expendable. Undoubtedly, your child must not run into the street, but does it matter if it's a hot day and your child gets her clothes wet? A boat-sinking hurricane in the bath is messy, but a mop will do the trick. Set your priorities. Houses, clothing and children can be cleaned. The more you say 'don't', the less impact it will have. Save the 'no's for the important things.


Head off confrontation. You probably recognize the signs of a tantrum brewing. It might be a certain expression or tone of voice. If you detect the warning signs early, you may be able to avoid an outburst.


  • Distract -sometimes sneaky, but definitely effective. Your child is playing with a large stick at playgroup. The other children are oblivious to the impending danger, but their mothers are beginning to cluck like frightened hens. A resounding "NO! Put that down" will result in waterworks, shrieks of indignation and a shortened visit. A different strategy? Sprint to your child's side, putting yourself between her and the others. Touch her on the arm. 'You're it!' When your toddler laughs and comes after you, you laugh too and say, 'stick down, first, then we can play.'
  • Direct use - encourages positive interaction. Your child is playing with sharp scissors. She is trying to cut her clothing. First attract her attention. 'You have scissors.' As she looks up you can be grabbing a piece of paper or a piece of fabric. "Try this," you say as you hold out the cutting material. Your next move will be to find some child safe scissors and get her a pile of paper. Let her rip (or cut).
  • Positive direction - this can deflect a tantrum while giving your child a choice. You toddler is pushing the end of a wooden spoon through a small hole in a blanket. You see the careful stitches made by your grandmother growing wider. Grab a plastic bowl and a pan and place them on the floor. "Do you want to stir the soup or the cake?" Your child won't know you want him to stop, so there will be no testing.


Follow through. Avoiding tantrums is great but not at the cost of your integrity. If you say 'No TV until you put your crayons away,' make it happen. There may be screams, but ride it out. The explosions will become milder as your child realizes that fighting is futile. Your child wants you to be strong. If you aren't he is confused. 'Don't you mean what you say? Can I get away with other things too?'


Be consistent. This is crucial. A child who knows his limits will test them, but a child who doesn't will flounder. He will feel unsure about his place in his world. Set your rules and protect them. A rule is a rule. If the rule is no cake before lunch, don't allow cake for breakfast just because Aunty Barb is visiting and you want to avoid a tantrum. If you do, guess what happens next time Aunty Barb shows up? If your toddler knows that the rules are steadfast, he won't ask for cake at 8am, Aunty Barb or not. If the rules are variable, he'll never stop asking ... just in case today is a cake-for-breakfast day.



Categories: Toddlers, Children,

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