You've heard the horror stories about the "Terrible Twos" and seen the YouTube videos of hair-raising tantrums. Then you look at your little one and contemplate joining the Foreign Legion. Raising a toddler is a challenge -- what part of parenting isn't? But it's not impossible. Helping your toddler make the transition from infancy to the preschool years means understanding that transitions are always tricky. With love, patience and creativity, you can turn the "Terrible Twos" into the "Not-So-Bad Twos." The good news? Just by reading this article, you're showing that you have the devotion and resourcefulness to be a great mom.
1 Corral your parenting resources. Get at least one book on parenting that meshes with your parenting philosophy. Choose a website that discusses toddler development in lay terms and in detail. Get acquainted with a parent of one child past the toddler age. Having resources in multiple formats means that you won't be lost if your toddler gives your laptop a bath or your parenting mentor goes on vacation.
2 Set rules and a routine. A good mom is a mom who provides structure for her children. Regular bedtimes, mealtimes, and playtimes help children recognize who's boss (you, right?), but routines also help them feel safe. And dole out punishments with a cool head.
3 Ask your toddler's caregivers about any behavior changes, new interests or friends. Ask the staff or nanny for good times for you to call, email, or stop by to discuss your child.
4 Have a regular "date night" with your toddler. You may spend time with her after day care or as a SAHM, but a regularly scheduled time for her favorite activities and foods will be something that she will look forward to as she develops a sense of time and structure. And admit it -- you wanted to watch "The Lion King" too.
5 Talk with your toddler. Toddlers have reached the stage where the language acquisition and production machine kicks into high gear. Read stories. Your toddler will probably have favorites, and you will probably have them memorized before long. Use gestures to emphasize statements and identify objects he points to. Ask questions -- requesting his preference will help him exercise authority.
6 Write down the details of any behavior that concerns you. If there is an increase in tantrums or sleep interruptions, or an apparent delay in development, your toddler's pediatrician will want to know when the problems began or worsened. Write down as much as you can about the circumstances of any worrisome behavior.
- Remember that toddlers are experiencing new emotions for the first time and are transitioning into Big Kid Land. Their difficult moods are just the effort of a small person to make sense of a growing mind and a big world.
- If you are worried that you might harm your toddler out of frustration, ask your partner, a friend or a relative for help. Parenting is a challenge, but you don't have to do it alone.
- The Happiest Toddler on the Block; Harvey Karp, M.D.
- Supernanny: How to Get the Best from Your Children; Jo Frost
- KidsHealth.org: Communication and Your 1- to 2-Year-Old
- Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way: Mayim Bialik, Ph.D
- Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, Fifth Edition; Steven Shelov, M.D., Robert E. Hanneman, M.D.
- The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums, and Tears; Elizabeth Pantley
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