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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Understanding Your Toddler Survival Guide

The Toddler Years are tough.
I am not going to lie.
I went through it.  I survived it.  You can, too.

A toddler is a cross between a cute, cuddly baby and an angry teenager.  Toddlers know exactly what they want and when they want it (most of the time, it's RIGHT. NOW.), but sometimes, they don't have the communications skills to tell us - which is frustrating for all of us.

I am going to make this very simple.

You need:
1. Patience.
2. Time
3. Routines
4. Prayer - lots of prayer :)
5. Sleep - you & your toddler

Patience.  You have to be patient with your toddler.  Remember, it's a phase.  They'll grow out of it.  (Then come the teenage years but that's another story).  Offer up solutions and vocabulary-building skills.  If your toddler is whining for a snack.  Say, "snack?"  Ding.  Something goes off in her eyes.  Yes, Mom finally understands me.  Then say, "You say 'snack'."  Repeat it a few more times.  Even if they don't attempt to say it, still reward them.  Praise goes a long way.

Time.  We all need me time, right?  Well, toddlers do, too.  They need time to explore and just play on their own.  Always keep them in ear/eyesight.  But sometimes, just sit back and let them be.  They also need time to figure things out on their own.  For example, you know she can't zip her coat at two, but she wants to try.  Give her time to try.  If you are frustrated and crazy trying to get out the door, your toddler is going to sense that and most likely will result in a meltdown.

Routines.  I used to say this to the parents of my preschoolers all.the.time.  Keep a routine.  Children find comfort in knowing what is happening next.  Unnecessary anxiety can be eliminated by keeping a routine - not Army strict but structured.  Children find security in routine.  Some kids crave it.  Even if it's not your personality to keep a routine, try it for a couple weeks and see if your toddler's demeanor changes.

Prayer.  Everyone needs it - especially parents and caregivers of toddlers!  Also, talk to other parents about what's working for them and what's not.

Sleep.  It seems the most likely scenario for a major meltdown is when your toddler is tired.  You know nap is at 2.  Don't try to sneak in a trip to Target or the grocery store at 1:00.  You are just asking for trouble.  My father in-law always used to say, "plan your work and work your plan."  Know in the morning what you need to get done and work it out accordingly, but do not push off those naps.  It goes back to keeping those routines and allowing the toddler time to settle in and relax.

Remember, toddlerhood can be fun and they learn so much so quickly.  Enjoy it (if you can!). It's a grand adventure. Take lots of pictures, too.  You'll get through it.  Some days, you won't think so, but you will.

Have a fun and playful day.

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