Did you know that the most violent beings on earth are two-year-old children? A parent of one is certainly not shocked to hear this!
While gathering information for articles about toddlers, I have discovered desperate posts like this on the Internet, “Two-year-old for sale. Cheap!”
In order to parent children under three, adults need to accept the challenging parts that come during this time (along with the super-cute parts). Toddlers will yell (a lot), throw, kick, break things, climb things, fling food into the air, keep you awake or get you up VERY early. They don’t care if you need them to brush their teeth, stay in their beds or get out the door on time. They can only see to the end of their cute noses—everything revolves around them and belongs to them.
It is not surprising then that the most common complaint I hear from parents of toddler is, “HELP! My toddler is driving me crazy!” or, “I’m frustrated All. THE. TIME. Please make it stop.”
I can’t make parenting easier for you but I can certainly help you feel more able to handle the regular challenges of raising toddlers. I gathered all the posts I have written that are toddler-related and will link to them in the points below.
Here are my suggestions for making parenting a toddler less stressful:
Babies are wired to freak out when they need something—nonviolent communication is actually a learned skill. This wiring stays in place until a child learns how to curb the powerful survival urge to shout, hit, flail, throw or bite.
As we all know, it takes a lot of time and practice to learn how to “catch our mad before it turns to mean,” but this is what parents need to continually do—teach their young children how to respond thoughtfully rather than let the instinctual reaction to freak out take over.
Accept that it takes a lot of energy to hang out with, teach, redirect and soothe emotional, curious toddlers. Open your schedule to allow for quiet alone time or workout time (or both!)—whatever recharges you. Make sure to stay far away from your exhaustion breaking point. There will be time for your ambitious projects when the children are older and more independent.
In order to teach a young child to “listen”—cooperate and follow instructions—parents need to grow the friendly, thoughtful part of the child’s brain. Anytime parents are goofy or silly, toddlers are more apt to buy in.
Harsh treatment is likely to put a child into his or her fight-or-flight response, which usually makes things worse in the long run. In my article, “Thriving With A Toddler,” I list a bunch of ways to use clever language for inviting toddlers to listen.
I often refer to a child’s attachment tank—the capacity with which a child feels seen/ heard/ important by his or her parents. I invite you to click here to learn more about the tank and how to fill it.
Toddlers need to know when it is time to stop playing and shift gears. Please read this article called, “Techniques For Smooth Toddler Transitions” and this one, “Getting Out The Door On Time” for help with both of those.
It is important to respond to tantrums the same way each time—calmly and with a routine. Your children need to know what your response will be each time they lose it. I wrote these articles to handle all things tantrum-related:
The development of positive core beliefs is what helps a person feel capable, important, loved, and safe and that others are trustworthy, caring and are listening. These grow through interactions with others that feel supportive. This is actually how the “attachment” part of “attachment parenting” happens—the growth of positive core beliefs. I explain more in this article.
Please hang in there. I certainly had days where I stared out the window with tears in my eyes, wondering how I was going to make it to the end of the day. Well, I made to the end of that day and so will you. Please know that your child’s rational mind will grow and all your careful nonviolent communication teaching will kick in. Until then, take good care of yourself (and invite your friends/ family members/ other caregivers/ older neighbour kids to come play with your little ones).
I invite you to visit my Facebook page for more information and parenting resources.