You made it through infancy, and you figured you were in the clear — but toddlerhood sure can be tough, too! Here’s some ways to deal with some of the tough stuff.
You already know that toddlers are fairly active (read: They get into everything), so you might be telling him “no” often. what you probably don’t realize is that “no” could become one of your toddler’s first words. Try not to worry; that’s typical. Toddlers try to develop a sense of independence and will keep testing to determine your limits.
TIP: Resist the being really harsh. If your child is refusing to clean up his toys, say, nicely, “It’s time to clean up your toys.” If he continues to resist, acknowledge how he feels by saying, “It’s hard to stop playing when you’re having fun.” Then take his hand and help him pick the toys up. At this stage, discipline is difficult to enforce, but showing kindness and empathy help teach lessons.
You might be interested in making playdates for your toddler, but know that your child probably won’t be ready to grasp the concept of cooperative play or sharing with other children until he’s around age three or four.
TIP: If your child is one or two years old, schedule the playdate, but don’t pressure the kids
to play together. Let them do “parallel” play, which means they’ll play next to each other, without much interaction. If you’re worried about fights over toys, bring doubles of everything. It’s good to start encouraging sharing with others around age two and a half.
Toddlerhood is full of difficult transitions, like giving up their pacifier or moving to a big kid bed, and toddlers are notoriously bad at making them. The fact is, even daily transitions like going from watching a movie to taking a bath can be difficult to get your toddler to accept.
TIP: Give your toddler time to prepare. Say something like, ”In five minutes, we’re going to say, ‘Bye-bye, movie. Hello, tub.’” After five minutes—you guessed it—say, “Bye-bye, move,” as you turn off the television and then take him into the washroom and say, “Hello, tub.” For a larger adjustment, like the big kid bed, give multiple warnings over the days or weeks leading up to the switch. Try to make the switch feel positive and thrilling.
Toddlers are notorious for their fits, most likely because they’re still deciphering how to communicate and they’re testing all those boundaries. Don’t let a tantrum catch you by surprise—they’re totally normal and to be expected at this age, so don’t freak out.
TIP: Allow your child to calm down with you present—maybe hug and hold him so he feels comforted. Time-outs are not a good idea until age four, because forced time alone could make a small child feel abandoned. Your toddler’s concentrating on his natural attachment and need for you.