Keeping Your Cool Through the Toddler Years

by Carles Cavazos Brito

Keeping Calm with ToddlerSome of your friends are easy going; others could best be described as "high maintenance."

You'll see this same smorgasbord of personalities in toddlers. There are lucky parents who are blessed with a happy-go-lucky tot who floats from activity to activity, enjoying whatever lands in life's path.

Other parents insist they've grown another limb. Supposedly that attachment is a toddler, but manifests as a clingy and whiny growth, firmly attached to mom or dad's leg.

Then again, your toddler might be or the explosive variety. When this tiny human meets an obstacle, the entire neighborhood finds out. Perhaps that small tremor you took for an earthquake was really a thwarted toddler in a nearby state.

Regardless of your tiny one's disposition, you can make it through these sometimes trying and frustrating months. These tips and ideas can prevent you from pulling out your hair.

Keeping Your Cool

Your parenting attitude is a lot like a sock. It can be soft, comfortable and a good fit . Other times, our attitudes can stink and need to be changed. Positive parents know that a child's behavior can be rotten and that all children act up at times. Parents are best to try and stay calm and communicate with their children the best they can through the tough times.

Just Little People

If you have a toddler in the house you might relate to Angela's reflections. "I have no idea how they've lived this long, or how I'm not in the nut house already. I guess it's a miracle all around." She continues, "The key to my survival, is reminding myself that they are, in fact, little people. Just remembering this helps me get through whatever mood swing they're on that moment."

Cherish the Miracle Moments

Drudgery, tantrums and insomnia give way to an occasional glimpse of magic moments. You've more than likely experienced a heartwarming scene like one of these:

  • Your toddler comforts an upset friend
  • You get a big hug and a "me wuv you"
  • Your energizer bunny crashes and becomes your sweet and sleeping tot

Store these moments in your treasure box and bring them out when you need a boost or feel like you want to scream.

Tantrums and Stomps

Babies and toddler have strong emotions. Many parents expect children to be able to control these emotions by age two or three. Toddlers lack that ability. Their baby brains haven't developed enough yet. Most kids learn how to ask for help rather than throwing a temper tantrum between the ages of three and five years. Next time your tot acts up, remember the mantra of "this too shall pass" and say it often.

Helpful Toddler Tips

You can't tell a toddler to calm down. They need help regulating emotions. You can't necessarily reason with them. That part of their brain is still developing. You also can't talk them through an issue. They don't have the vocabulary to comprehend that type of logic.

However, you can do things to reduce your child's rebellion and allow you to enjoy his or her growing independence.

Preventing Tantrums

Most tantrums occur when kids are hungry or tired. That seems quite logical. If you create a routine that includes snacks, naps, cuddles, and time for exploration, your toddler may skip most of the tantrums.

Learn to just say no -- to yourself! Don't try to squeeze in that last errand with a hungry or tired kid. Prior planning, especially with a tiny tot, becomes a very necessary practice.

Say, "Yes" and "Do" Instead of "No" and "Don't"

Toddlers have wonderful memories. Remember how quickly your little guy opened that child-proof cupboard after watching you just one time? What about that c-a-n-d-y you hid so carefully. Did your tiny tot forget where you put it? Surprise!

Your copy-cat toddler will experiment with words you use often. If you're tired of saying, "no" and "don't," switch them out. You could substitute a clap or the word "danger" for "no." Try telling your toddler what you would like, for example, "set your toy right here," instead of "don't drop that."

Name That Feeling

It's time to play emotion coach. "Sara is so mad that her toy tipped over." "I see that you're afraid of that dog." When you first see your toddler's frustrations coming on, get down eye-to-eye and in an exaggerated tone, name the feeling. Kids begin to develop empathy as they themselves feel understood.

Side-Step Power Struggles

Some defiance by your toddler can be a good thing. Your child is trying to assert that he or she is a real person with a small amount of pint-size power. This behavior is totally appropriate. It's okay to say, "no" whenever appropriate and without compromising safety, health, or other peoples' rights.

Try to side-step power struggles. For example, let your child be in charge of his or her potty training. Kids all get out of diapers sooner or later. Nobody wins fights with your child about his or her body.

Here's another suggestion: Put your toddler in charge of feeding themselves. You furnish the healthy food choices (or it might be cake for every meal). Your child decides what and how much to eat. If you think your on-the-go child doesn't take the time to eat, add a bed-time snack.

During the toddler years, your baby is growing into his or her own person. Your challenge is to keep your sanity and hair. What's helped you and your child survive the terrific, terrible toddler years?