As babies become toddlers, they change in immeasurable ways. It’s incredibly fun and rewarding to watch those little personalities start to blossom. That said, toddlerdom comes with its own set of challenges as well.
While babies are fairly limited in terms of activities, the world opens up for toddlers to play and explore. As great as this might be at times, it also means they can get out of control on occasion. For many parents, this is a new parenting challenge.
But, just how should you go about keeping your toddler under control? Read below for a few tips.
Pick Your Spots
The first thing to recognize is that having a toddler means giving up a certain amount of control. This is quite different than your experience with a baby. With babies, your main challenges revolve around eating, sleeping, and crying. With toddlers, you still need to work on these things.
But, you also need to make sure they don’t draw on the walls, bang pots, and pans on the floor, and do any number of other things that might drive you crazy.
One lesson that you will need to learn early is that you really have to pick your spots. For example, if your toddler starts pulling tissues out of a box and throwing them in the air, you might let them do this for a few minutes. Sure, it’s a be wasteful and makes a mess but it’s not dangerous and can be a fun way for them to explore and learn.
If you try to make sure your little one is perfectly behaved at all times, you will end up playing disciplinarian almost non-stop. Believe me, that role gets old.
Take Action Before Things Get Out Of Control
With the advice above in mind, you don’t want to let things get too out of control. A couple of minutes of exploring can be fine. But, if you see things start to escalate, you will want to step in.
If you don’t want your toddler drawing on the walls with their crayons, it’s best not to let them run around with crayons in the first place. You might sit with them while they do some coloring, but if they attempt to move away from their coloring book, it’s time to step in and correct course.
There is a little bit of a Murphy’s law phenomenon with toddlers. So, it’s a good idea to try to think a step ahead.
Stay Above The Fray
While your toddler’s behavior may occasionally drive you up the wall, you will want to try and remain calm. After all, an out of control toddler is not going to be brought into line if you let your emotions get the best of you.
On the contrary, if you yell at your little one, it’s likely to lead to a toddler meltdown. So, you might just end up changing from out of control behavior to a full blown temper tantrum. That’s not exactly a step in the right direction.
Ok, So What Should You Do?
Once you have decided to keep calm in disciplining your toddler, just what are you supposed to do in order to get things under control? Here are a few guidelines.
The things that seem obvious to you aren’t always obvious to toddlers? As silly as it may sound, clear communication on basic issues can really help.
For example, if your little one is sitting in their high chair, and starts tossing their beans on the ground, you may explain “I don’t like when you throw food on the ground because then I have to clean it up”.
As obvious as this might seem to you, this sort of thing will not always be apparent to your toddler. So, make times like this into teachable moments, and you’re likely to see more of the behavior you like with a little time and patience.
Set Consistent Expectations
As highlighted by Smart Parent Advice since your toddler is learning new things every day, you will want to be consistent. For example, if your toddler throws beans on the floor and you laugh one day and discipline them the next, it can be very confusing.
As funny as your little one’s behavior might be at times, consistency is really helpful for toddlers that are learning out to behave. The world is full of so many new things, experiences, and rules. So, make it as easy as you can on your little one by being consistent.
Take A Time Out
Ok, so what if you simply can’t get your toddler under control? Perhaps they just keep trying to climb on top of the coffee table and you have explained calmly and clearly why you don’t want them to do it. Just what is a parent to do? Try a time out.
You might bring them to a different room and have them sit down for a few minutes. You can even sit with them to make sure they stay in place. Just make sure that you don’t turn the time out into play time.
Timeouts can be helpful in that they remove stimulation and tend to bring the energy level down a notch. Once that coffee table is out of your little one’s proximity, the urge to climb on top of it is likely to fade. A timeout doesn’t have to last a long time. Just a few minutes will often have the desired effect on toddlers.
While your toddler’s behavior may occasionally make you want to pull your hair out, try and keep perspective. If you let an out of control toddler’s behavior get under your skin, it will.
On the other hand, if you recognize it as being totally normal behavior for a child this age, you’ll be better equipped to manage it well. There are lots of ups and downs in parenthood. My best advice is simply to smile and carry on.