4 Truths About Toddlerhood You Have to Accept
Toddlers are my favorite little people. I can say that because my last child has finally moved out of that stage and I am now [sniffle, sniffle] toddler-less. A funny thing happens when you are no longer in the throes of toddlerhood – you see toddlers in a whole new light.
When you are knee deep in toddlerhood, you often miss the cute innocence of toddlers. You might miss the hysterical way they try to exert their independence. You probably see no humor when they fall to the ground and forget how to walk or how they have no filter when they talk to strangers.
I get it. You are sleep deprived. You want your little person to stop dripping and hanging all over you. You want to eat a meal that you don’t have to share. You want a napkin to rest on your lap, not a bouncy, messy child. Toddlerhood can be exhausting. But…it is also short lived. It will only be a few years before they are running off to school and squirm when you try to kiss them.
I want you to soak up your little tornado. I want you to enjoy every sleep deprived, exhausting day (okay that is asking too much)! But, I do want to help you stop spinning your wheels about issues you can’t fix.
To help you do that, we need to get a few things straight about toddlerhood:
There will be no learning curve, so stop waiting for your toddler to get it.
“Why is he doing it again!! We just talked about this yesterday!” Yes, and you will talk about it tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the… (you get my point). Toddlerhood is like building a house. When you are pouring the concrete into the foundation it doesn’t look much like a house. And yet, without a solid foundation, everything built on top of it will come crumbling down.
Toddlerhood is laying the foundation. It is setting up rules and expectations. It is teaching your toddler that what you say is what you mean. It is helping them learn limits over and over and over again.
Don’t expect your toddler to learn any of these lessons anytime soon. In fact, most toddlers won’t fully get it until they are almost out of toddlerhood. Realize that you are teaching and that all your hard work will pay off in the long run.
Tantrums are part of the deal
There is not much in life you can guarantee, but you can bank on toddler tantrums. No, it is not a sign you are doing something wrong. In fact, it is a sign you are doing something right!
Developmentally toddlers are in the throes of exerting their independence. That is scary, as their frontal lobe isn’t fully developed, they act on impulse and have poor gross motor skills. Their behavior is enough to give us a heart attack half the time. That is why it is impossible to not butt heads with your toddler. “No” and “Get down!” and “Yikes!” are all part of your vocabulary.
Toddlers are spreading their wings and you are refusing to let them always fly. This will cause unrest in your little person. They will revolt, flail, kick and scream. And you (being the awesome parent that you are) will hold your ground, respond calmly and maintain clear limits.
Your toddler will have mood swings that make puberty and menopause look like a cake walk.
There is a reason people joke they have a threenager and the reality isn’t too funny. Toddlers will give any teen a run for their money. They will ask for things and then cry when you bring it to them. They will have the biggest meltdown, only to be in the happiest mood a few minutes later. Honestly, it is enough to make your head spin.
No, there is nothing wrong with your toddler. Don’t diagnose them just yet with a zillion mood disorders. Toddlers are just learning to self-regulate. This can take some time and patience. They are just developing this ability. In the meanwhile hold on to your hat, it is going to be a bumpy, emotional ride.
Picky Eater and toddler are synonymous.
What do mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and goldfish have in common? They are toddler’s favorite foods. Picky toddlers are more the norm than the exception. Toddlers have very finicky eating habits. This can scare parents, especially first-time parents.
If you want some great ways to help feed that picky little person, check out this awesome book by Dr. Orlena Kerek:
After a few kids, most parents realize this is par for the course. Toddlers are picky creatures. They get hung up on texture, temperature and smells. They like what they like and aren’t going to take big risks when it comes to their tummies.
Usually, this pickiness gets better over time and truly isn’t worth all the stress it can cause. If your child is eating and gaining weight, you are doing okay.
Let go of these worries and enjoy your little peanut
I know I am guilty of not always soaking up toddlerhood. My first child was such a challenge, I don’t think I soaked up anything except vomit and pee. My second child’s toddlerhood came and went in a blink, mainly because my third child completely eclipsed him. My youngest was the most fortunate, as I started to slow down and soak up her sunshine.
It is impossible to enjoy every single second of toddlerhood because frankly, some of it is less than rewarding. But I would encourage you to not get hung up on the things you cannot change. Don’t get stuck on the phases and stages that are normal in toddlerhood.
Your job is to be loving, caring and consistent. Your job is to teach and to explain. Their job is to push limits. Their job is to crumble and turn into a puddle. If that is happening in your house, everything is as it should be.
Do you have any other toddlerhood truths to add? Leave them in the comments below. Do you know someone who is raising a toddler and could benefit from these truths? Share this article with them.
Other toddler resources and articles:
Do you have questions you want answered? Click here and write Ask the Child Therapist in the subject line.
For more episodes of Ask the Child Therapist click here.
To subscribe to this series on Youtube click here.