Raising children is not an easy feat regardless of the child’s age. Parenting advice is often welcomed, as every stage presents its own set of challenges and roadblocks. When a child first enters the world, your world is turned completely upside down. You are no longer responsible for yourself and are unable to make decisions on a whim; you are responsible for taking care of, planning for, and nurturing an innocent life.You must schedule doctor appointments, ensure they are properly clothed and diapered, meet their milestones, have adequate tummy time so they can grow, ensure they are in a proper car seat, don’t break out in a diaper rash, and know that mommy and daddy love them more than anything.
While it is a heartwarming adventure, it is one full of unexpected roadblocks. Even if the nursery is the perfect soothing color, you cannot predict a child’s sleep schedule, how many times they will cry out to be fed, or need to be cuddled in the middle of the night. Regardless of how many books you read, how much research you conduct, and no matter how picture perfect the nursery looks, you cannot predict what the child’s personality will be.
In the blink of an eye, the toothless infant quickly becomes a roaring toddler who is searching earnestly for their independence and discovering their voice. Quite literally. There are a variety of roadblocks and stressors that parents face with their toddlers as they quickly become strong-willed warriors, fighting to figure out their feelings while staying within reach of the safety net of mom and dad.
Parenting Advice for Raising Toddlers
Here are five pieces of parenting advice to help you navigate this season as you seek to raise your toddler well.
1. Toddler tantrums do not mean your child is bad.
“Children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.” – Lady Bird Johnson
Toddler tantrums do not mean you are failing as a parent and it does not mean you have a bad child. Toddler tantrums are the child’s way of figuring out their emotions. At this age, they cannot regulate their emotions. Toddlers often repeat the same questions, have a favorite toy one day that is their least favorite toy the next day, and feel sadness or anger in immense ways.
Toddlers need stability and an example of how to handle what they are feeling. It is healthy to verbalize feelings with your child. For example, “Mommy is feeling sad because she really wants you to listen” or “It makes daddy so happy when you are such a good listener.” This is a simple way to help them name what they are feeling.L.R. Knost said it so well, “When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.” One significant element to helping them regulate their emotions is to model the behavior.
Yelling, screaming, and being quick to anger take a significant toll on their searching souls. Toddlers are like sponges, always trying to absorb the things their parents – most trusted companions and best friends, say and do.
2. Establishing routines is healthy for toddlers.
Establishing routines can be very difficult for parents on the go, however, it is founded to help toddlers feel more secure and may help them regulate emotionally. A child who has established routines gains more of an understanding of how things work and how to respond to everyday activities. They learn to adapt to their schedule rather than fight it.
If you have the exact same bedtime routine every night, it can help the toddler in regulating their emotions and learn that every single night after bath and reading a story (for example), they go lay in their bed and go to sleep. Little things can make a big difference. If you have not yet established a nighttime routine for your children, it is never too late! Start simple and go from there.
Establish routines that work for you and your child and gives them something to look forward to. If your child loves to read, perhaps it would be helpful to end the day cuddled up with a book. If your child loves animals, perhaps sharing one interesting fact about animals every night after a bath would be helpful.
3. Figure out what works for your child and remain consistent.
There is no manual for toddlers when it comes to facing a variety of behaviors or figuring out their exact emotions. When it comes to toddler discipline, consistency is key, especially because their emotion and favorite things seem to change daily.There will be times when your child fixates on the wrong words or they observe you in moments of anger and frustration and mirror the same behaviors. To figure out what works for your child, know that it is often a trial and error process.
It is important to know that what works for one child may not work for another. It is also a crucial element for parents to remember that every child has tough days. Every parent goes through seasons of defeat and uncertainty.
Every time you see a family in the grocery store whose children look picture-perfect and are listening to everything their parents say while yours are running in circles, screaming for a candy bar, trying to put a napkin in their ear, and appear to be wiping boogers on the conveyor belt; know that every parent deals with misbehavior and chaos.
Do not compare the highlight reel of other children with your child’s blooper reel. Parenting is not an easy task!
4. Encourage toddlers when they help or show kindness.
In a world that feels filled to the brim with “no’s”, it is important to encourage and praise toddlers when they help or show kindness to someone. It is so easy to hold on and become overwhelmed by always trying to correct them, teach them, and figure out the most effective way to discipline them that we forget to praise them!
Praise them when they eat all their dinner without whining. Praise them when they get dressed, even if they put their pants on backward. High five them when they ask to help fold the laundry or put their trash in the trashcan.“Flying”, Courtesy of Conner Baker, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; Their emotional piggy banks need to be filled more so than filling their hungry minds with relentless rebuking. The world can quickly become a place of pessimism when we don’t find the good in something that is challenging us, even if it is the smallest little glimmer of hope. Parenting is emotionally taxing and physically demanding; therefore, it is vital to hold on to the hugs, kisses, unprompted helping, completing tasks, and displaying kindness to others.
5. There will be tough days and there will be amazing days.
An important aspect of parenting is to know that every parent faces their fair share of defeat: moments when they lose control of their own emotions, days that end in tears, and days that make you question your life decisions. There will be days when you ask if you can handle having another child.
There will also be days where you toddler says “I love you” first, comes to your bed to cuddle first thing in the morning, and asks if they can marry you one day because they love you so much. You are their person – their safe place. Being their safe zone is why parents deal with the on and off emotions, toddler tantrums, and off the grid questions that you did not even know toddlers could think of.
Toddlers are clever, ready to soak in whatever knowledge and routines you are willing to share and instill in them, and ready to mimic whatever they see their parents do. Sometimes you must go out of your way to build those amazing days. You can build a fort in the living room, start a family movie night, bake cookies together, or take them to the park every Saturday and pick up all the flowers their little heart desires.
The toddler years may be the beginning of what your children will remember and reminisce about in the years to come. It is their foundation and kickstart to figuring out who they are and what they are passionate about.
It is important to encourage other parents and avoid judgmental glares when you see their toddler having a meltdown in the grocery store line. Encourage another parent when their child helps yours or helps someone else without being asked. Parenting is a community and if we stick together and encourage one another, it sure helps to look past the days of tantrums and remember the beautiful memories created with family.
Christian Counseling for Parents
Counseling for parents is available to provide support for a variety of stressors and roadblocks that parents face. Raising kids is a journey that demands support, and the parenting advice you will receive through Christian counseling for parents could be invaluable to you.
Parenting counseling is also beneficial to those who had a less-than-glamorous upbringing, whose parents were addicts, out of the picture, or physically and emotionally abusive. Sometimes you do not realize the baggage you carry from childhood until you become a parent yourself.
If you’re looking for further parenting advice, I invite you to contact me or one of the other counselors in the counselor directory to schedule an appointment and find the help you desire.
“Tired Baby”, Courtesy of Jelleke Vanooteghem, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Little Queen”, Courtesy of Senjuti Kundu, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Staring Baby”, Courtesy of Seven Shooter, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Flying”, Courtesy of Conner Baker, Unsplash.com, CC0 License>