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The toddler and preschool years can be exhausting and overwhelming, but don’t believe the hype – parenting toddlers doesn’t have to be terrible! In fact, you can even enjoy this stage. (It’s true!) Use these tips to help you discipline, manage tantrums, avoid power struggles and parent your toddler with confidence!

Congratulations!

You’ve survived the sleepless nights and never-ending feeding cycles of the newborn phase.

You’ve had some time to snuggle into those sweet baby cheeks and read up on each new developmental milestone.

And now, as if overnight… you’re dropped into the toddler years.

Parenting toddlers is like entering a new world.

  • They can talk – but the most often word they use is “no.”
  • They can walk – but they can also run away from you in parking lots.
  • They are able to be independent – but it’s usually when you’re running late.

It’s no wonder people refer to these years as the “terrible twos” or “threenagers” or the “fearsome fours.” These years can leave parents feeling confused, frustrated, undermined, and exhausted.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.

You don’t have to start your relationship with a standoff, wondering if you are really cut out for this parenting gig after all.

Below are some tips to help you parent toddlers and preschoolers with respect. Keeping the relationship with your child strong and healthy.

And, maybe even show you how to enjoy these years. (Yes, it’s possible!)

POSITIVE PARENTING FOR TODDLERS

If you’re like most parents, you want to jump straight into discipline, “Tell me how to get them to listen!” or “How long do I keep them in timeout?”

Instead, let’s step back and take a deep breath.

We’ll get to discipline, but if you skip this foundation, parenting toddlers is going to be more of a nightmare than a joy. You’re going to find yourself in neverending power struggles, aggressive behavior, and epic meltdowns.

Positive parenting, or respectful parenting, takes a different approach. It focuses on keeping ourselves calm so we can connect with our kids (even when they’re misbehaving), help them through big feelings and teaching lessons in a way that’s most effective.

This style of parenting is also curious about a child’s behavior, rather than looking for a way to “punish it away.” That means when your child acts out, you take age, developmental stage, and brain maturity into account. You might realize that your child is overwhelmed in certain situations or needs more sleep.

Each of these things are essential to creating solutions and strategies that actually work. Solutions that leave you feeling calm and in control.

READ MORE ABOUT POSITIVE PARENTING AND “NORMAL” TODDLER AND PRESCHOOL DEVELOPMENT. 

HOW TO DISCIPLINE TODDLERS

Ok, ok. Let’s talk about how to discipline toddlers and preschoolers. But first, let’s clarify the difference between “discipline” and “punishment.”

“Punishment” is focused on creating a painful experience to teach your child a lesson. “Discipline,” on the other hand, seeks to guide your child, helping them find a better way to manage the situation in the future.

It might seem like a minor choice of words, but it can actually make a huge difference in how you respond to your child. If you’re focused on punishment (or if you grew up with parents who used punishment), you may see your child as “bad” or “misbehaving” or “bratty.” You may feel that they need to “pay for their bad behavior” or that pain is the only way they will “learn their lesson.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t build a strong relationship, and, chances are, you are going to despise parenting through the toddler years.

However, if you see your child as “needing your help to make a better decision” or “struggling to make a different choice” or “feeling overwhelmed,” you may feel compassionate. You may look for ways that you can come alongside your child and teach them a different solution, support them as they struggle, or respond with empathy.

This may not be the “discipline” you’re familiar with, but it is an amazing way to build your child’s emotional intelligence, improve their problem-solving skills, grow empathy for others, AND it keeps your relationship strong and healthy.

Bonus: Parenting through the toddler years isn’t something you’re going to dread! Yay!

READ MORE ABOUT USING POSITIVE DISCIPLINE STRATEGIES WITH YOUR TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS.

POWER STRUGGLES WITH TODDLERS

It’s amazing how simple things can become HUGE power struggles with toddlers. Within seconds, you’re in a standoff with a 2-year-old over snow boots. It’s crazy.

But you don’t want to give in, right? You don’t want to teach them that they can get everything they want, right?

Kind of.

Part of being a calm, confident, positive parent is learning to reevaluate your role in these power struggles. Seeing the bigger picture will help you create a plan that allows your child some independence, but still keeps you in the role of loving, supportive, parent in charge.

READ MORE ABOUT MANAGING POWER STRUGGLES WITH TODDLERS.

TODDLER MELTDOWNS AND TANTRUMS

No one can throw a tantrum better than a toddler. It’s a whole body experience that often leaves parents feeling overwhelmed, shocked, and embarrassed.

Thankfully, tantrums are totally normal during the toddler and preschool years. (Isn’t that reassuring?)

It’s hard to navigate the world when you have limited language, limited power, and a brain that is still developing and maturing.

Using positive parenting and respectful discipline, you can actually decrease the number of tantrums and the intensity of the meltdowns your child experiences during the day.

(Wouldn’t that be nice!?)

READ MORE ABOUT HELPING YOUR TODDLER MANAGE TANTRUMS.

COMMON CONCERNS FOR PARENTS OF TODDLERS

It’s not only discipline that throws parents for a loop during the toddler and preschool years, there are a host of other challenges that pop up without notice.

Thankfully, most challenges are not unique. Some seem like “rights of passage” that every child must try as they grow and mature.

Use this list to help you respond when these concerns show up, but also keep in mind that every child is different. You are the expert on your child, if you notice something unusual or concerning, please bring it to the attention of your child’s doctor or a mental health provider.

Read more about common parenting concerns during the toddler years.

MANAGING SIBLING RIVALRY

Parenting a toddler is hard enough, but add a few other kids in the mix, and suddenly, you have a bunch of new challenges on your hands.

Rather than expecting your little one to manage these social skills with ease, give them the support they need as they learn to share toys, take turns, and disagree without hurting another child.

READ MORE ABOUT HELPING YOUR CHILD DEAL WITH SIBLING RIVALRY.

PARENTING WITHOUT YELLING

These tips and strategies for parenting toddlers are great in theory, but they can seem like impossible tasks if you struggle to manage your own anger.

You don’t want to yell, but the emotions just get the best of you. (And leave you feeling horrible in the aftermath).

There are lots of reasons parents resort to yelling – feeling out of control, not knowing how to respond, worrying about what other people think, panicking that you’re messing up your child…etc, etc, etc.

Rather than staying stuck, there are things you can do to break free of the yelling trap. Read through the tips below, try a few new strategies, give yourself a lot of patience, and when you slip back into old habits, give yourself a do-over and continue heading in a positive direction!

READ MORE ABOUT PARENTING YOUR TODDLER WITHOUT YELLING.

If you’d like to read the original blog, click here.

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