Ask any parent to describe the toddler years (from 12 to 36 months old), and most of them will probably answer with a shake of their head and a knowing laugh. It’s a well-known fact that those months between the adorable stage of babyhood and the entertaining preschooler stage can be quite challenging. We’re talking tantrums, potty training, learning to talk, and much more. Most mums might be wary of this stage or are already going through the dreaded “terrible twos”. Don’t worry! There are ways to get through these years peacefully.
Here are 5 proven tips on how to get through toddlerhood with your sanity intact:
1) Remember that from 0-2 years old, your child’s life is all about CAREGIVING, PLAY, and SLEEP.
Knowing that these are the 3 most important factors to focus on during your child’s first 2 years of life can instantly change your perspective, and ultimately, your attitude towards your child. Forget everything you’ve read on the Internet or what your mum’s neighbour told you about what baby class your child needs. These are the only 3 things you need to keep in mind during those first 24 months of life – caregiving is an essential part of this stage, uninterrupted play is essential, and quality sleep is a must.
Let’s talk a little more about the caregiving part – changing nappies, feeding, giving baths, the list can seem endless. However, these are more than just accomplishing tasks or checking off things on your daily checklist. These moments provide you with opportunities to emotionally connect to your child. Talk to your child while changing him into his pyjamas. Explain what you’re doing, even if you think he can’t understand you (he can). See these special moments paths of building trust between you and your child. This will pay off in the years to come.
2) A 100% safe area is essential.
We don’t mean that you need to child-proof your entire house but having a safe space where you can leave your child alone for a few minutes will do wonders for your relationship with him. This is where your child can stay when you need to make a phone call or have that much-needed bathroom break. A corner of your living room with a padded mat, child safety gates, no sharp edges, covered electrical sockets, and a few age-appropriate toys is the perfect place for your child. While in this area, he can feel safe and secure and may even give you a few precious minutes to enjoy a cup of tea while playing on his own.
3) Set the limits.
Toddlers hate hearing the word “no”. Who doesn’t? The key is to make sure that you DON’T have to keep on saying no by setting limits early on. Say the limit once, use a few words, and don’t give a lengthy explanation. Children can sense your tone and words. Be firm and make sure you also stick to the rules. For example, your child insists on throwing his toy car around the house. You can say this when you take away the toy, “I won’t let you throw your toy car. It will break. You can throw your ball outside instead.” Period. When you repeat the house rules constantly, your child will eventually understand and follow. Patience is key.
4) Uninterrupted play = a happy toddler.
Young children need time to play on their own to learn how to focus, explore, and discover what they like to do. This is their chance to make their own choices – they can choose what toy to play with and what they want to do with it. With the rest of their life usually dictated by adults, uninterrupted play gives them the freedom they crave and results in a happy toddler. Resist the urge to tell them what toy to play with and how to use it. Give your child a few open-ended toys and watch the magic unfold.
5) Yes, you can prevent tantrums!
Most of the time, tantrums are not inevitable. Though it sometimes seems that your toddler threw one for no reason, upon closer inspection, you’ll realize that there was an underlying factor that caused it. Usually, these unwelcome episodes happen because he’s tired, overstimulated, didn’t receive enough attention, or heard a lot of NOs that day. Make sure that none of the above happens and 95% of the time, you can avoid a complete meltdown. When a tantrum does occur, relax! All tantrums pass. Just stay with your child and let the tantrum run its course.
Yes, the toddler years can seem like your sweet baby suddenly turned into a crazy and unreasonable child overnight. Follow our tips and life with your toddler will become smoother and more enjoyable. It’s also good to remember that nothing lasts forever! This stage passes by very quickly, and you’ll soon wonder where time went. Enjoy!