Parenting toddlers can test the patience of any new parent. Ask any parent and they will tell you the toddler years are the some of the most trying. Toddlers have very inquisitive and highly charged minds and are always on the go. Keeping them out of danger is a parent’s first priority. But you do not want to come across overly protective or they will struggle later in life. You just need to set boundaries and teach them what is acceptable behaviour and what isn't.
Toddlers are very demanding and sometimes beyond all reasoning. If you have heard of the ‘terrible twos’ it doesn’t necessarily mean your child will get them, but it is possible. Huge tantrums and unreasonable demands are what the ‘terrible twos’ are all about. We have all seen this when doing our weekly shopping. You see a mother at her wits end trying to control her toddler. It is very easy to pass judgement, but unless you have been a fly on the wall and watched this mother and child from the moment she woke up, only then could you fully understand what she is going through. She would have probably been pushed to the limit and the incident in the shop in public was the last straw.
How to discipline a toddler?
During these ‘toddler’ years it is important to discipline your child as this is the time they become more independent and start to explore and push boundaries. You need to lay down a few rules with your toddler early on so your child knows where he or she stands. Children to like and respect discipline so it is your duty as a parent to provide it.
You should always avoid hitting a toddler or being over strict. Disciplining a child is not punishing them, it is just teaching them right from wrong. It is also about guiding their behaviour so that they keep out of harms way. Parents often set overly high expectations for their toddlers which is a big mistake. For example you can’t expect a toddler to sit still for long periods of time. Toddlers are naturally inquisitive and on the go all the time.
Setting rules for a toddler is different from older children. With toddlers you need to keep reminding them of the rules and regulations. You don’t want to set too many rules as this will be too overwhelming for them. The rules you do set should be simple and reasonable and you should always stick with them. Consistency is the key with any aspect of parenting. The minute you set a rule and then allow the child to break it, you are setting yourself up huge problems later in life. You need to teach you child from as early as possible that rules are there for their safety and well being and not to stop them having fun. An example is one I see all the time and it is a fatal one. A child goes up to a parent and asks for a biscuit. The parent says no as tea will be ready soon. The child doesn’t take no for an answer and keeps going on and on. Eventually the parent for a quite life gives up and lets the child have a biscuit. BIG MISTAKE! You have just broken the main fundamental rule, you have just taught your child that they can win over you, or brake your rules. Now if your child wants anything they will ask and ask and not take no for an answer. If however you keep to your word, you child will soon learn that when you say no you mean it and they will not go on and on. They will realise that you are in charge and your rules are final. The minute they know they can get around these rules they may as well be not be in place. Without keeping to rules you will soon have a very unruly child.
There is truth in the old saying “you have to be cruel to be kind”. The rules you set up now may appear cruel but in the long run will be kinder to your child. Be the parent, set rules and stick to them, it’s as easy as that.
How to deal with tantrums?
When a child has a tantrum it is usually because they are either overly tired and the toddler can’t cope with what’s going on around them, or they could be hungry or frustrated. The child may want something or do something but can not translate this to you.
The best way to handle tantrums is not pay any attention to them and remain calm at all times. This is easier said than done, but with a bit of practice you will soon manage it easily enough. If the child is acting aggressive and being destructive you should hold the child firmly from behind. If the tantrum came on because the child wanted something and you said no, you need to calmly tell the child that you won’t give them what they want but will talk to them about it when you finish. Once the tantrum is over you need to talk through the situation with the child and explain your reasons for the “no” and say that in future try talking to me rather than have a tantrum.
You might find your child is frightened by their own tantrums so you need to make sure you are there and give them plenty of love when it’s over.
If tantrums are happening on a regular basis you need to find the core reason for this. Ask yourself some of the following questions:
• Is it due to frustration from not being able to do something?
• Are there too many “No’s” in your toddlers’ life?
• Is it just attention he or she needs?
• Are the tantrums happening when your child tired?
• Is there any distractions that could be affecting him? Starting nursery, a new baby, parents quarrelling, stressed parents, parent leaving?
• Do you give in to every demand from your child.
When you have worked out what is causing all the problems you need to prepare regular relaxed time with your child, give them plenty of room to explore and makes sure you give them plenty of compliments for all the good things they do. Many parents make the mistake of just telling they were wrong to do something, but ignoring them when they do the right things.
How to deal with an aggressive child?
A small amount of aggressions is completely healthy and normal. However many children often get angry, kick, hit and bite for no particular reason. If you have a child that is overly aggressive there are some things you can do to ease the aggression:
• Encourage active and expressive playing like painting, sports, water play, and anything physical.
• Teach them to express feelings with words rather than aggression.
• Don’t leave an aggressive child playing with other children without monitoring them
Being a parent of a toddler takes a lot of your time and heaps of energy. Ensure you get plenty of your own quality time away from your child. This could mean putting your child into a nursery or under the care of somebody else which you child might not like. But you need your own time to recharge your batteries and being away from you child if only for a couple of hours is great for both mother and child. When you return you will both be glad to see each other and appreciate each other that little bit more.
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