Parenting Tips: How to be a better mom to a toddler
Another Mother’s Day rolls around; another fabulous chance to celebrate the most important person in our lives.
It’s also a good time to offer mums everywhere, including single mums, some great new tips on how to be a better mom to your toddler. Oh, and to make life easier for yourself along the way.
Here are some tips on how to discipline a child and be a better parent.
Listen and learn
Yes, as parents it’s our job to lay down the law so our toddler doesn’t toddle all over us, but do listen. Tantrums are horrible things. They can seem like a child’s way of getting what they want and if we give our kids what they want to stop the tantrum, we’re basically promoting bad behaviour.
Here’s the fact: kids aren’t being deliberately bad, they’re learning to communicate and find their place in the world. They have needs, they have issues, yet they can’t communicate either yet, other than by rolling around the floor screaming like they’re covered in bees.
Now, remember, if your child is an exceptionally good screamer, the decibels in the room will already be approaching AC/DC concert levels. You trying to shout advice over this will be quite ineffectual.
Take deep breaths, wait for an instrumental break and say quietly, “Hey, what’s up?” Or words to that effect. Try to be a nice little ballad amongst the hard rocking and take a conciliatory approach. Make suggestions; offer a calm, reassuring face to the one going bright red before you. Distract them away from the reason they had the tantrum in the first place and reward them with a hug.
If you know what they want – hence the tantrum – don’t whatever you do give it to them until they calm down.
Looking for ways to keep your toddler engaged? Read our blog post on 5 Teaching Activities for Toddlers.
Don’t compare apples with oranges
Comparison between kids too, needs to stop as every child is unique.
Your neighbour’s child can already count to 20, so what? Your child can probably throw a ball better or draw more skilfully.
As parents, we can’t help ourselves. We see another 2 or 3 year old and we do our own little mental checklist: mine’s bigger and healthier, theirs is more talkative though. Is my child unusually shy?
Again, kids have a busy schedule of physical and emotional development. If you’re genuinely worried that your child may be falling way behind on their development schedule, don’t raise it with them, talk to your family doctor.
Be a whole role model
When you’re around your child, think of yourself as being on CCTV, because you are: their internal CCTV and they’re recording your every move. If you jokingly throw a cushion at someone, don’t be surprised when they do it 5 minutes later and certainly don’t scold them for it.
Better still, be conscious of doing things you want your child to repeat. Give a family member a meaningful hug; say hi to a neighbour with a smile and a little wave. They might seem like little things, but they’re on that CCTV for eternity and they’ll register as behaviour your child wants to repeat.
Let those meaningful little moments last
It might be something as simple as sitting outside watching the dogs eat their breakfast. But it’s not simple to a child. It’s an experience. It might not seem much, but it’s quality time; real time spent doing simple meaningful things.
If you don’t have dogs, just go and sit quietly in the garden or on the balcony and watch stuff. Any stuff. Point stuff out, talk about it, share it.
The more you do seemingly meaningless little things like this, the more you’ll grow to love them and see them as deeply meaningful and beautiful as they are.
Don’t initiate an activity all the time
If you’re preparing dinner and they are hovering about behind you somewhere, let them hover; let them get bored enough to find something to do.
Ideally, this won’t be trying to staple their colouring book to the cat, but you’re giving them the chance to create an activity for themselves. By doing so they’re gravitating towards the beginnings of a true identity.