How to Be a Better Mom to Your Toddler
If you have a toddler, you know it’s not so easy.
In fact, parenting a toddler is a non-stop task because they are incredibly curious little people who want to learn about EVERYTHING!
Toddlers touch things, lick things, kiss things, and investigate everything any way they possibly can.
And, if you’re like most moms with toddlers, at some point you have probably wondered how to be a better mom to your toddler.
You can read books about parenting toddlers, but they don’t know YOUR kid. I have even Googled, “parenting toddlers books”, which in turn led me to research and read parenting books and dedicate an entire post to the BEST books for parenting toddlers.
Of course, you could ask your friends, but their parenting style is guaranteed to be different than yours, not to mention the fact that their kid is likely very different from yours.
Or, you can start to look at yourself and see how YOU can change yourself and figure out how to be a good mom to a toddler.
Becoming a Better Toddler Mom Begins With You!
Achieving better parenting skills is something that begins with you. You need to look at how you react to your child’s behaviors, both good and bad.
Are you on them constantly about the things they do wrong, but you fail to praise them when they do right?
That can be really tough on a little one who is trying to better understand how the world works. Kids are curious and that’s not a bad thing!
It’s fairly easy to be a good mom to a baby. You change their diapers, burp them, feed them, let them sleep, and play with them.
The toddler years are VERY different. It can be hard to embrace and enjoy this time in their lives and yours, when all you feel like you’re doing is trying to figure out how to survive the toddler years.
The toddler years and all that comes with them won’t be around forever. Believe me, you’ll blink your eyes and they’ll be in kindergarten.
Before I go any further, let me be the first to say that I have yelled at my toddler. I try to reserve my yelling voice to alert of danger, but there have been moments when I have lost my cool. But, I am still trying to figure out how to be a good parent to a toddler, without yelling.
So, the advice I am going to share is advice that I have found to be useful as well.
I have discovered how to be a better parent to a toddler without yelling and I am going to share that with you. I want to help you be more present with your kids in a way that is going to be noticeable to you and them.
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Learning How to Be a Better Mom to Your Toddler
We are living in a time when technology has become a driving factor in our busyness. We are CONSTANTLY on the go trying to get from here to there without forgetting to do everything we are supposed to do along the way.
It’s tough to come home from the craziness of work and give your undivided attention to your toddler when you’re trying to make dinner, check email, make weekend plans, and maintain your social media.
Oh yeah, and find the time to prioritize your marriage after having kids!
BUT, the reality is that if you are a working parent, you are likely only spending about 4 hours (MAX!) with your kids each day. Let that sink in! You want to make the most of that time.
And, part of that time is spent in the car on the way home from daycare, sitting at the table eating dinner, taking a bath, and snuggling at bedtime.
How are you going to choose to use the rest of that time?
Let Your Toddler Help
My recommendation is simple. Allow your toddler to help with things around the house.
There was an article published in NPR recently about kids in a small Mayan village in the Yucatan. The article discusses toddlers specifically in reference to the kids “helping” around the house. Toddlers in that culture are taught to wash dishes, help with the laundry, pick up after themselves, sweep the floors and the list goes on.
They have an inherent desire to help. They want to learn and this is the age to teach them.
The crazy part? They weren’t given any type of reward for their behaviors.
This way of life was an expectation.
There was no prize for doing the right thing.
Another article from Psychology Today shares about how toddlers want to help and we should let them. In a study, parents were asked to work slowly, without giving any verbal instructions to their toddlers. What the study showed was that children would volunteer to help, simply because they wanted to be doing the same thing as their parents.
It is a cultural standard that we as Americans have failed to grasp.
Let me be the first to say that this concept right here has changed the way I parent.
Instead of telling my kids no when they ask to help, I take the time to teach them how to do something. I would LOVE for my kids to learn how to empty the dishwasher, set the table, and sweep the floors.
Those are all things that I am then NOT doing by myself.
Many people will say, “Well, I’ll just do it myself, if Johnny helps me do the dishes, the entire kitchen will be wet”.
Chances are, you’re right.
But, the more often you let Johnny help you with the dishes, the better he will get at them, and eventually, he will understand that is his job, and you will no longer have to do the dishes.
Be present. Get involved with your kids and TEACH them how to do things.
Put It Down!
Put down your cell phone.
I struggle with this one.
In fact, there are times I will purposely “lose” my phone so that I don’t feel compelled to pick it up if it goes off.
You know, it’s a funny thing how our expectations of ourselves and others can be very different.
Here is an example.
Let’s say you’re playing on the floor with your toddler. You’re reading a book together and in the middle of your sentence, your phone goes off. You stop mid-sentence to read the text and send a reply. Then, it happens again, and you have the same behavior.
Then one night, you’re at dinner with a friend, in the middle of a conversation and her phone goes off. She picks it up, engages in the texting conversation with whoever text her, and then she comes back to your conversation.
Do you feel put off?
How do you think your toddler feels?
And then, we wonder why our kids are doing this same thing when they get their own phones when they get older.
This shouldn’t come as a shock to you when you have modeled this EXACT behavior ever since they can remember.
Figuring out how to have a better mom and toddler relationship may be as simple as putting your phone down.
Put it down, engage in activity with your toddler, and enjoy this stage in their lives. Encourage their creativity and help them learn.
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Engage in Play with Them
It can be hard to fully engage with your child if this age and stage isn’t your thing.
You know, it’s funny because I always thought the baby stage was my thing. Yet when I had my own kids, I didn’t really care for it much. They couldn’t communicate with me and that was annoying.
Toddlers, on the other hand, they will tell you what they want, how they want it, and when they want it. Almost to a fault. Ha!
At least they can talk.
Engaging in play with your toddler can be as simple as taking a walk and pointing out the leaves. You can talk about their color, their shape, how they grow, etc. You can build with blocks and then knock it over. It really doesn’t have to be any planned activity.
Your kids just want your time and attention.
They want to know you care enough about them to sit down and read a book.
Take the time to read to them.
You increase your child’s literacy leaps and bounds by reading to them beginning at a very young age. If you aren’t sure where to start with reading to your toddler, you MUST check out these amazing interactive books for kids. Even you will love them!
Let Your Toddlers Have a Choice
If you like to exercise your autonomy, chances are your toddler does too.
Now, I’m not saying let them choose their food at every meal. I’d venture to say your toddler would be eating an entire diet of ice cream, cookies, and fruit snacks.
Ok, so maybe that’s just my kid.
What I mean is to let them choose within a controlled set of circumstances. For instance, at our house for lunchtime, I let my kids choose. I list their choices and I let them choose what they want.
There are usually leftovers in the fridge, I offer a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, things like vegetables or fruit with either hummus or peanut butter, etc.
None of the choices are going to add any more work for me because they have either already been cooked or they’re only going to take me a second to prepare.
Another example would be to let them pick out their own pajamas. Or, if you aren’t going anywhere for a day, let them pick out their own clothes. You may be surprised to find that they can do a really great job choosing their own clothes.
Give Your Toddler “Chores”
My kids love to help. And until I read the article I mentioned previously, I will fully admit that I shunned off that desire from them. I didn’t want them putting the wrong clothes in the wrong laundry pile, I didn’t want things dropped on the floor, and I didn’t want dinner leftovers to end up in the cabinet.
It can be hard to embrace their desire to help.
But, do it!
Find some things around the house that you are fully willing to let them help with. It may be using the Swiffer to dust the floor. Or, maybe your kiddo can help pick up his toys each night so that the floor is clean. Here are some of my favorite chore ideas for preschoolers and toddlers!
The tasks don’t have to be challenging, and they shouldn’t create more work for you. They may require a bit more time than if you just decided to do them on your own but remember that you are teaching them.
I recently shared some awesome tips on how to get kids to clean without losing your mind. It really may not be as hard as you think and you should definitely give it a try!
Teaching takes time.
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Acknowledge and Praise Good Behavior
Gosh, I struggle with this one. It can be really hard to acknowledge good behavior when it seems like all you do all day long is correct your kid.
Surely there is some point in the day when either your kiddo does something right or DOESN’T do the wrong thing. Those are the moments you want to praise your child.
Here lately, we are working with one of our kids on not whining. It’s no fun, and incredibly frustrating. But, when they don’t whine, we make a big deal out of it with positive words of affirmation. We want our kids to know that whining isn’t going to get you what you want.
Positive words of affirmation can go a long way with a toddler.
I’d venture to say that you like to be told you’re doing something well. It makes you feel good, and oftentimes it makes you want to do it again and do it even better next time. The same can be said for toddlers.
Try Not to Yell
EEEK! That one can hurt. I don’t like yelling at my kids. It doesn’t make me feel good, and in fact, I usually feel guilty afterward. I try my best to swallow my pride, apologize, and ask for forgiveness.
Parenting is really all about being an example for your kids of who you want them to become.
The effects of yelling at toddlers are likely negative.
Chances are they begin to shut you out whether they ignore you or scream in a tantrum. They don’t care what you have to say because they didn’t get their way.
I try to redirect their attention and THEN correct the behavior. I have found that I often get nowhere except in a puddle of tears if I try to correct behavior at that moment.
But I will say, not yelling is hard.
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Give Yourself Grace
You know you aren’t perfect, and you aren’t going to ever be perfect.
Give yourself grace… daily.
Eventually, parenting (might) get a little easier.
But, you are always going to ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing.
You will question nearly every decision you make from whether or not you chose the right car seat, to things like maybe you shouldn’t have let him have that piece of chocolate cake right before bedtime.
As long as you’re getting the big decisions right about their safety and well-being you’re doing ok.
With each day, you will learn more about them, and more about yourself as a parent.
All you can do is continue to try to be the best mom you can.
You Are Their ONLY Mom!
At the end of the day, you are the ONLY mom they have.
Embrace each day and try to make it better than the one before.
Admit when you’re wrong and apologize.
If you want your children to do something, teach them.
Sometimes, the most powerful way to teach is by action, without a single word coming out of your mouth.
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