Did your precious baby go from being this uber sweet child to a crazed tiny human that has you second guessing your ability to be a mother, overnight? Don’t fret, if you want to be a better mom to your toddler, you’ve come to the right place.
Your precious baby has started walking, saying a few words clearly and it’s like a light switch got flipped. And now you’re left wondering whose child is this? You are not alone. It is my belief that if there is one stage no mom is ever truly prepared for, it’s toddlerhood. That mess is hard.
Let me take you back to my fourth child. Even before his first birthday, I knew it was going to be a rocky ride. He has been one of my most opinionated and feisty kiddos to date. And for a long time, I had no idea how to handle it. There were plenty of nights I went to bed crying because I wish I had a better relationship with my toddler. So please believe me when I say, I get it.
Want to Become a Better Toddler Mom?
The first step? Stop beating yourself up. You’re a good mom, you have all the characteristics of a good parent. And they’re a good kid. Toddlerhood is just hard.
For everyone. I mean, imagine having all these big emotions on top of wanting to do all these things that you can’t. Simply because you physically can’t. That’s what it’s like being a toddler. They simply do not know how to communicate, process their emotions, or do half of the things they need to. Heck, I’d be mad at the world 24/7 too, if it were me.
If that’s the case, then what tips for raising toddlers are there? And how do you combat these situations when they arise? For starters, it takes a calm mother to calm a toddler.
But what happens if you don’t know how to be a calm mom? I have yet to meet a mother who knew instinctively how to calm a raging two year old who’s upset about the color of their sippy cup. But we’ve all learned, and it starts with being more intentional.
1. Be Present
Spending quality time with your toddler is going to be huge. Toddlers need to connect. They are inherently wired to want to please their caregivers. But how can they, if they don’t feel connected to them?
Now I am not going to say this means no screen time, because I believe we all have our own parenting styles. What works for you works for you and same for me. But I will say, it may be necessary to limit it. Or find a new creative way to incorporate it, that still allows for that connection.
For example, my children and I find exercise videos on Youtube for the entire family to do together. They are often these “would you rather” style videos that allows everyone to pick their own poison, if you will. While some may still consider this screen time, my family and I are able to have a good time filled with laughter, exercise and most importantly connection. We’ve put this dark cloud around tablets and televisions when in reality quality time does not have to mean quiet time.
2. Provide Positive Attention
In the world of toddlerdom all attention is good attention, but this is especially true when they feel a lack of control. And I know, I know, every book in America tells us to have a routine and to stick to it. I am not negating that. Toddlers thrive on routine. But they also thrive on getting attention. So better if it is the good kind. Learning to celebrate even the smallest things can go a long way.
Being a better parent does not always mean making these huge changes. Simple things like praising them for cleaning up their messes, or allowing them to help make their lunch are easy activities that come with a big impact.
Finding time throughout the day to tell your child how proud you are of them not only builds their confidence but also their self esteem. But don’t forget to let them know how proud they should be of themselves too. This helps build that inner voice if ever doubt starts to set it.
3. Make Time for Play
One way to show love to a toddler is to simply play with them. Not exactly rocket science I know, but sometimes we need to be reminded of the simple things. For the longest time, I didn’t get down and play with my kids. I’d set them up with their favorite toys while I scrolled my phone, or worked on a few things on my laptop. They’d scream “Mommy mommy come play with me,” and I’d instantly say “Oh, I’m so sorry baby, mommy is busy.”
But do you know what this is saying to them? That whatever mommy is doing is more important than they are. And while there are definitely going to be times when I can’t stop what I am doing to play, I want my children to know less of that and more of the opposite.
Try finding time in your daily schedule where you can fit in a few moments of play. Again this does not have to be some major event. Parenting is not about stopping your entire life for your child. You can turn the five minute walk to the car leaving the grocery store into fun times. You can make getting dressed into a game each morning. The goal here is to focus on ways to connect. Connection is key to any lasting relationships.
This was mentioned above, but it’s worth saying again. Being a more intentional parent will help everyone in the long run. We take special care of the things and people we hold dearest. Anything that is a priority comes first. That’s exactly how it should be when it comes to your child. Do things to intentionally build that relationship up. Carve out special moments with them. Learn who they are and what they like. Intentionally setting up your day to ensure there are moments, big and small, for your toddler will impact you and their relationship for a lifetime.
4. Let Your Little One Help
It is always quicker to just do it yourself. No messes are made, its done correctly and in a timely manner. But what does that do for your little one? Sure, you may think they just aren’t ready to handle it. Or they aren’t capable of executing whatever it is properly.
But at some point, neither were you. Someone took the time to teach you. Allowed mistakes to be made and watched you flourish. Do the same for your tiny human. There is absolutely no way we can expect our toddlers to know how to do things if we don’t first teach them.
Cooking dinner? Let them help season the food. Doing laundry? Taking the clothes out of the dryer is an easy task (and builds motor skills) for your little. In addition to giving them space to help during tidy up time do the same for fun activities. Gardening, playing uno, all the things. Small children learn best through play and experience.
5. Establish Structure and Routine
Toddlers thrive off of routines. Structure is definitely your friend. I’m sure you’ve heard this among the many parenting tips for toddlers. But what happens if sticking to a routine is harder than finding a needle in a haystack for you? I completely get it.
Far from a type A; schedule, to-do list, routines, none of it comes easy for me.
I live for spontaneity and having a routine often feels dampening. That’s just where a little more creativity comes into play. Your schedule / routine does not have to be rigid. Nor does your day have to be planned out to the minute. Leave space for free play. Have days in your week that are specifically for getting out of the house.
Working from home with my toddler is what finally made me realize routines weren’t all that bad. There’s so much flexibility in it. It’s literally your day, you have complete control. Looking at it from that way, instead of some rigid thing I had to keep or else, things changed.
6. Praise Your Toddler’s Good Behavior
We all like to hear when we’re doing something right. The same goes for our tiny humans. Toddlers are wired to please their parents. They get the biggest joy out of seeing us smile and making us happy. Use that to your advantage. Positive parenting tips for toddlers such as this are great because they leave so much room to make it your own.
One of the ways I’ve taught my son to say please, thank you, have all the manners was through exactly this. Whenever he’d say those things my response was “Mommy just loves when you say please.” Or “Saying thank you is a great way to show gratitude to someone, great job!” He loved it so much he started saying thank you for everything. A little praise can go a long way.
7. Grant Freedom to Make Mistakes
Picture this. You’re running behind to work and your toddler asks for some juice. In a hurry you hand him a cup of juice and head to the next room to finish getting ready. Next thing you know you hear the infamous “uh-oh.” Your heart sinks as you walk in to find he’s spilled his juice all over your white dress you had laid out for the day. Immediately you can feel the anger building inside of you. And then, it happens. You explode.
We’ve all been here many times before. Why can’t they just listen? Why is it that they always seem to make a mess?
Because they’re toddlers. That’s why.
Children make mistakes. It’s just what happens. So if you want to learn how to be a better parent without yelling, you’re going to need to let go. Let go of the thoughts that they should know better. Or do better.
Mistakes are bound to happen. Shoot I’m 34 years old and make similar mistakes to what I mentioned above at least once a week. Instead of getting upset, teach them how to correct it. Clean it up with them, and allow them the space to learn and grow.
8. Empower Your Toddler with Age-Appropriate Chores
Toddlers and chores may not seem like two words that belong in the same sentence. But it’s quite the opposite. Age-appropriate chores not only teach gross motor skills, but they can also help built trust with a toddler. This is a great way to help when trying to be a better mom to a toddler. As you build their confidence your connection will strength too!
9. Give Grace
This is said so often, but what does it really mean? And how will it help me to stop losing my temper with my toddler?
I’ll explain it the same way I explained it to my children. Giving grace is taking time to understand that not everyone is perfect. We all make mistakes, have off days, or just do silly things sometimes. And in those moments, it’s best to ask yourself. Would you rather have someone who can be gentle with you? Or someone whose response brings you even lower than you possibly already feel?
We are our children’s safe space. At all times. When they’re scared, hurt, confused, or just slightly off. We are there to be that comfort. But in order to do that, we first have to make sure we correct our perspective.
10. Keep a Proper Perspective
The days are long, but the years are short. I know this saying is super cliche and played out. But it definitely still holds true. And I think it’s important to note as mothers we can understand that these moments don’t last forever but also hate some of them at the same time. These things do not have to be mutually exclusive.
What I’m trying to say is that I think a healthy perspective is what every mother of a toddler needs most. Not everyday is going to be a walk in the park. Some days you’ll knock this being a better mom to your toddler thing out of the park. And others not so much. Both are okay. It’s all about balance.
Take Care of Yourself, Mama (Your Toddler Will Be Better for It)
I said I wasn’t going to do it. I said, I wouldn’t discuss the importance of self care. Yet here I am. And honestly, it needs to be said. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Period. Being a better anything starts with being a better you. You’ll be a better mom to your toddler when you prioritize yourself. And put your needs first.
Seriously momma, take care of yourself. Be intentional with your days and time. Get up a little earlier so you can have 30 minutes or so to yourself. Say some positive affirmations and tell yourself how amazing of a momma you are. Then go be one! You got this.