Some days I’ll think to myself, wow, I’m doing pretty good at this parenting thing and other days I’m running for the door as soon as my husband gets off of work. I know most Mom’s understand this feeling–especially if you have toddlers that have started throwing tantrums. My son is almost 3 and around 2.5 he started going through those developmental changes of wanting to “test Mom and Dad.”
I’ve learned that as you go through different stages, there are different tips and hacks that can help make your life so much easier. Here are some of my favorite parenting hacks for the toddler stage.
As you read through these, keep in mind that they may not work for your child *yet*, they may not work at all, or they may be just the thing you were praying for. Kids are different and you just have to try different things until you find something that clicks.
I use this trick for everything. Basically when your kid is very engaged in something, you give them a timer warning before you have to leave or change course. And for extra cooperation, let them set it to give them some power. I use the one on my phone and I normally let him set it for 1-2 minutes before I want him to be done with something.
They don’t want to get out of the bathtub, set a timer. They don’t want to leave the park, set a timer. They want to keep watching TV, set a timer. They don’t want to get into bed, set a timer. I set a timer for literally everything and for us it works incredibly 90% of the time right now. Fewer meltdowns help everyone.
Give them choices, but not too many. Two choices seems to work well. Choices help with their need for power that comes at this toddler age and help prevent meltdowns.
Kids can smell when you don’t mean what you say. Don’t be wishy washy in what you are asking them to do. I realized I was doing this a lot. I would ask my son to do something and he would whine and I didn’t want to follow through because I was being lazy or just too tired.
If you ask them to do something, if they don’t do it, don’t just let it go or they will realize that you don’t mean what you say. For example, if you ask them to put their bowl in the sink, and they don’t do it, walk them over to the bowl and help them put it in the sink. Don’t just let it go or they won’t think you meant what you said.
My son used to eat lots of veggies when he was little, but slowly he started refusing them. Smoothies are a great way to sneak in extra veggies (spinach, cauliflower, avocado, zucchini, etc.–sounds gross but you can barely taste a lot of these in a fruit smoothie).
If you are having a rough day with your toddler, there are a lot of things you can do to make it better. I heard once that you should treat toddlers like a plant if they are cranky: give them water (bath, let them play in the sink, play with water outside), give them sun, or feed them. And feed them nutritious food. Sugar and junk will only make it worse.
I love making something special and quick when my toddler is cranky, like yogurt bark. I blend up frozen fruit like blueberries or strawberries, a splash of maple syrup, and unsweetened coconut milk yogurt and then freeze it. It doesn’t take too long to freeze. Then I just break it into big chunks and he loves it.
Another thing I love to do is to turn on worship/praise music as soon as we wake up. It just helps the environment of the house.
HAVE A SNACK/ACTIVITY READY AFTER NAP TIME
My son is almost 3 and napping has just started getting interesting. Sometimes he will nap and sometimes he won’t.
But, when he was napping everyday, he would wake up pretty cranky sometimes. I liked to have a snack and water ready immediately to help with the crankiness. I also liked to have some sort of relaxing activity ready for him to do. Going outside helps a lot too.
TEACH YOUR TODDLER TO PICK UP AFTER THEMSELVES
Mamas, do yourself a favor and teach your kid to pick up after themselves! If you don’t, you will be picking up ALL DAY LONG and trust me, sometimes I still am. We are still working on this for sure, but during the times we are playing together, I will say “I’ll help you clean up” after we are done playing. Then I explain that after we play, we pick up our toys if we want to get new ones out.
Extra interesting note: I noticed that he does much better helping if I tell him I will help him. If I ask him to help me, he isn’t as interested in doing it for some reason.
EXPECT 1ST TIME OBEDIENCE
Or they get a reasonable consequence. No 1,2,3 rule. I heard when you count to 3, you are teaching your child delayed obedience. This is super important because you want your child to listen to you the first time because if they are getting ready to run out in front of a car, you want them to listen to you the first time.
We definitely still struggle with this, but it’s something I am trying to implement now and hopefully it will get better as he gets older. Plus, who wants to ask your child to do something over and over again?
BE OUTSIDE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
I think this is pretty self-explanatory. Kids are happier and sleep much better the more they get outside.
One of my friends told me that she definitely noticed more challenging behavior if her child had a lot of screen time. I know this is something no one wants to hear, but it is definitely true. If my son has a lot of screen time (I’m talking more than 1.5 hours a day), his behavior declines and fast. We try to stick to an hour of screen time (tv, tablet, etc.).
We don’t leave the TV running all day and if my husband and I want to watch something, we watch it after he goes to bed. On rainy days or days where we have not felt well, I am more lax, but I do notice such a big difference when we limit it.
You got this Mama! This age can definitely be testing, but I hope these tips can help make it better! If you have any great toddler tips, leave them in the comments below!