How is your daily experience parenting young children going?
I certainly hope it's going better than my own did! It was only a few years ago that my children were toddlers, and it was common for me to hang my head and whisper through tears, “I didn’t sign up for this.”
The upside to this difficult time was that the analytical therapist in me thought a lot about how to improve things for other mothers of toddlers. I just didn’t believe that raising little ones needed to be so constantly hard. I will say that there are many things about raising children under five that require a great deal of energy from us, but there are certainly things we can do to lessen the stress of parenting young kids.
One of those is to understand and accept how toddlers operate, another is to make sure our personal buckets are full so we can give the energy toddlers need, and also to guide our children with positive instructions. It was this last one that was really sinking me — and thankfully, it was the one that was simplest to change for the better. Once I understood more about how a young child’s brain works, and what they respond to, it was actually quite easy to interact with my children in a way that got them to cooperate!
I started writing about this way of communicating with young children and began sharing it with my clients. To my surprise, my ideas were being read and shared by parents online. In a relatively short amount of time, my Facebook page took off and now offers support and toddler tips to thousands of people. I'm so honoured to be part of a great collective and through the great engagement of these parents, I've learned that many of you feel the way I did: we need more information about how to guide young children in way that is both firm and friendly. We want to be kind to our young ones, and at the same time, keep them safe, teach them, get them moving/ fed well/ potty trained/ to sleep enough, and into their car seat!
Four of the best tools for a "Toddler Toolbox" are:
Positive phrases make a HUGE difference in how children respond. For example, it is the difference between saying, “Stop that! Get down! No jumping,” when your child jumps on the sofa, and calmly instructing, “Sofas are for sitting. You can jump over there.”
Positive, clear, firm, concise instructions let your child know what is needed of them without activating the part of their brain that makes them want to defend themselves. Light bulb moment, right? Actually, this is why time-outs and punishment usually don’t work (and I don’t recommend them): they often get kids mad or defiant, not thinking.
I wrote two posts to provide parents with phrases to use in common situations that are very challenging (Here are links to Stop Tantrums: 33 Phrases to Use with Toddlers, and Tantrum Tamers: Phrases for 3 & 4 Year-olds). I was floored to watch these posts go viral—they’ve been shared over 200,000 times! Clearly there was a need and many parents contacted me with notes of gratitude. One even said she was going to tattoo these phrases on her arm. This got me thinking about how I could get this information to parents in a way that was easy for them to access when they needed it most. That’s when the idea to create an App hit me!
Over the last six months, I've been researching and consulting with colleagues to create an app that will help us get through common tough parenting moments. I included sections to address: bedtime, biting/ throwing, defiance, getting out the door, daily jobs, safety, picky eating, tantrums, transitions, tidy time, potty time and whining.
An extension of the phrases posts, I’m really excited that this app called Taming Tantrums is now available for $2 through your iPhone or Android app store. In order to find it, click here for the link to the iTunes store or simply type, “Taming Tantrums” into your App Store search field.
I have heard from parents already that the app has smoothed typical toddler battles and that it has helped them to stay cool when their children are melting down around them. A Dad said, "Within five minutes of downloading the app, I had already changed my approach with my picky eater." One mom was excited to let me know she use it to get her daughter to leave the park on time. Not only am I grateful it helps them, I am overjoyed that kids are getting what they need as well.
I truly believe we can change every one of those days where you are feeling overwhelmed and at the end of your rope. I know it gets better with these little changes, and with the Taming Tantrums app, the solutions are at your finger tips.
I am also very excited to let you know that Erica Ehm and I have been working on a series of videos called “The A to Z of Taming Tantrums,” which will be released weekly through the YummyMummyClub YouTube Channel. You can click here to subscribe to those!
My hope with the posts I write, the app, and the video series is that you will not have to go through what I did when my children were younger. I want to do my best so that your answer to the question at the top of the post is, “Some days are hard, but overall things are pretty good.”
Is there something in particular that you’d like me to write about more? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below or over on my Facebook page.