5 Common Mistakes People Make When Parenting a Toddler
Are you parenting a toddler? I’m sorry. As cute as toddlers are, they put parents to the ultimate test. The combination is all wrong. A strong desire to flee parents, but no clue about where they are going. A strong desire to do everything for themselves, but no coordination to make that happen. Welcome to Frustrationville, population – you.
To save you a bit of a headache, I have mentally revisited my time as an Infant and Toddler Mental Health Specialist to come up with five common mistakes I have seen time and time again when I worked with couples parenting a toddler.
#1 Cave when your child has toddler tantrums.
Do you want to know the quickest way to raise a difficult, demanding child? Cave when they are toddlers. Your toddler is in the “I will test all boundaries” stage of life. Their job is to test boundaries, your job is to maintain them. They’ll do their job, you do yours.
Don’t worry, their cute little egos can handle a firm “no” – you will not crush their spirit or their love. You will foster a child who understands limits and who will respect “no” not only from you, but from teachers as well.
#2 Do everything for your toddler.
I know toddlers are scarily uncoordinated, but doing everything for toddlers will not help them in the long run. Having toddlers do things for themselves is the quickest way to improve self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment.
Even if you have them do part of a task (such as pushing the button on their pants or holding their cup as you pour), their feelings of self-efficiency and will foster independent kids.
#3 Talk baby-talk to your toddler.
I know toddlers are super cute, but do them a favor and talk to them like they are human. When you talk to your toddler like they have half a brain, they will be slower to develop expressive and receptive language skills. If you want to grow your toddler’s vocabulary, simply talk to them like you would any other child.
#4. Place too many expectations on your toddler.
These little people are new to our world. They’ve only been here a few years, at the most! Sometimes parents place ridiculous expectations on toddlers. They are just learning to navigate their world, their bodies and their mouths – an important thing to remember when you are disciplining them.
During the toddler stage, it is our job to teach. I often hear parents describe their toddlers as manipulative. Parents can get enraged by their toddler’s behavior. If you are taking your toddler’s behavior personally you aren’t going to survive toddlerhood (just sayin’).
Toddlers are going to push the envelope. It isn’t about you. It is about the stage. Take all the energy you would use to be angry and throw it into teaching. Set boundaries, set very short consequences and most importantly remain calm. After all, they are learning self-regulation from you.
#5 Sleeping with your toddler and then expecting the transition to sleeping alone to go smoothly.
It is perfectly fine to co-sleep with your baby and/or toddler. But, and I mean a big BUT – don’t expect the transition to sleeping independently to go smoothly. How you design the sleep habits of your young child will determine how well they sleep moving forward.
If you want your child to go to bed independently, you should stop laying with them until they fall asleep. You want to teach them how to soothe themselves and how to feel safe and secure in a room without you.
If you have no issues lying with your child for as long as they need (and this could go into the teen years for some kids) then this isn’t something you need to worry about.
Parenting a toddler is a major feat. Luckily it only lasts for a few years. Then you’ll look at those cute little toddler pictures and want to do it all over again. Mommy amnesia is a great thing. Parenting a toddler is messy. We all mess up, clean up and then mess up again.
What’s your best tip for parenting a toddler? Leave a comment and share with other parents. Do you know someone knee deep in toddlerhood? Share this article with them!