Parents eagerly await that first step and first word from their emerging toddlers. Even a toddler’s first defiant, “No!” is usually met with a smile. But eventually, you won’t be smiling when that same adorable child is screaming, “No!” at the top of his lungs in the local library because you won’t let him pull all the books off the shelves or when he uses his newly-acquired mobility to dart across the parking lot.
All infants eventually become little people on the move, full of energy and into everything. Toddlers are explosively learning so much about the world around them. It’s easy to think that they’re demanding and stubborn, selfish and out-of-control, unable to share, and even aggressive. And at times they are, but they’re also so much more. Toddlers are just learning the rules and figuring out how to act in a socially acceptable way. They will make mistakes and so will the adults who guide them. It is hard to keep up with little people who can’t verbally express themselves, are habitually repetitive, and never stop moving. As parents, we’ll need to understand toddler development, have lots of patience, and wear comfortable shoes to keep up!
Expect toddlers to act like toddlers.
Don’t take it personally. Toddlers aren’t out to get you – they’re simply out to explore the world.
Pick your battles.
Decide what matters a lot, a little, or not at all. Does it really matter if they have messy clothes or dump the toys out of the toy box? On the other hand, it’s not okay to let a toddler run down the sidewalk alone just because he wants to. Sometimes the best solution is to restrict behavior that’s unsafe or destructive and let the rest go.
Redirect and avoid confrontation when possible.
Steer your toddler’s attention to new activities or other interesting things to notice by redirection or distraction.
Make life simple.
Prepare the environment and modify your toddler’s schedule to minimize frustration.
Anticipate frustrating situations.
Toddlers are more likely to be overwhelmed or act out in crowds, unfamiliar places, or when they are tired.
Give lots of recognition and encouragement.
Toddlers continually look for our approval and satisfaction.
Enjoy toddlers for the wonderful, amazing people they are!
Toddlers become preschoolers almost overnight, and believe it or not, you may soon reminisce with a chuckle about the time your toddler flushed your car keys down the toilet just to see what would happen.
Gigi Schweikert is an internationally known expert in early childhood education. Gigi is the best-selling author of twelve books including the popular Winning Ways for Early Childhood Professionals book series and Prime Times: A Handbook for Excellence in Infant and Toddlers Programs. Known for her humor and practical messages, Gigi is a popular keynote speaker. Audiences say her messages are “Inspirational, encouraging and real.” Gigi lives in Hunterdon County New Jersey with her husband and four children. Teaching educators and parents to help every child succeed is Gigi’s life passion. Visit Gigi at www.gigischweikert.com