If you’re in the thick of parenting toddlers, take heart! These are hard years, but sweet ones and the building blocks for the years to come.
I am currently parenting what I believe to be our last toddler.
He is the 5th baby in our family and even his toddler days are numbered.
I’m not new to this toddler rodeo and, having gone through these precious years more than once and closely spaced, I have learned a few things.
Something else I have, as my oldest is now 8 years old, is perspective.
When all my kids were 4 and under it felt like I was parenting FOUR toddlers.
I didn’t know what would happen when they got school age. Or progressed through elementary.
Shoot, I still don’t know what will happen when they hit adolescence and the teen years.
But now having done this toddler gig 5 times (and loving nearly every minute of it!) I can say there are a few things moms need to hang onto.
Truths On Parenting Toddlers…
This can be a challenging time as they are little whirlwinds who can tear up the whole living room in about five minutes… but it is truly a lovely season full of cuddles.
1.Their Bark Is Worse Than Their Bite
Toddlers are gonna cry.
And scream sometimes.
If your days are built around trying to figure out how to avoid any tears or meltdowns, then life is gonna be hard parenting your toddler.
You probably have some family rules already in your home. Your toddler will, at times, not want to follow the rules.
➡️ They will show their resistance with tantrums and crying.
Toddlers, unlike preschoolers and older children, however, are quick to adjust and keep the boundaries and rules if you expect it.
Don’t change your rules or expectations as a response to toddler tears.
Yesterday morning my toddler asked for Cheerios in an orange bowl.
He gets Cheerios in an orange bowl and then cries because he wants Rice Krispies and not cheerios.
And now he wants a green bowl.
If I threw away perfectly good cereal and then switched his bowl… he’d be likely to cry about the spoon.
Allowing choices is fine, but don’t get in the habit of servicing whims.
2.They Know What They Want, We Know What They Need
There is a notion going around that little ones know what they need.
This is – quite simply – not the case.
They know if they want food. They know if they want mommy. They know if they want a brownie. They know they don’t want to go to bed because playing is much more fun.
A loving and nurturing mom will plan their toddler’s day based on their needs first, then their preferences.
- Toddlers need naps and early bedtimes.
- They need nutritious food at meal and snack times.
- They need to learn to fall in with family rhythms.
- They need time and attention and love.
3.They Will Grow Up
I once Googled, “Is my 3-year-old a sociopath?”
I will never say which son this referred to because I’m against oversharing.
But, yes, I did that.
Matter of fact.
I did that for two of my sons.
One truth I was so happy to realize and take hold of is this… most of the irritating behaviors your toddlers does, he will grow out of.
While I’m certainly not saying to let behaviors go unchecked that are against family boundaries, I am saying that all the things your toddler is doing now is not predictive of what they’ll do later.
They are little.
They are learning.
Give yourself and them grace.
4.You Don’t Have To Teach It All Now
We mothers put enormous pressure on ourselves to do everything right.
And to do it all right now.
We think that if we want to teach our kids about Jesus, money, and chores then we better do it tomorrow, Thursday, and twice on Saturday or our kids will end up unemployed and living in a granny flat in our backyard.
This is not the case.
This is a false pressure from within fed by your desire to give your children the best.
- Toddlers need to be well fed, well slept, and well loved, and that’s about it.
- Discipline is essentially helping your child learn the family rules at this age.
- Living out your own values is the best way to introduce your children to them when they are so young.
5.They Will Love Boundaries As Much As You Do
Boundaries are absolutely necessary for kids.
And the good news is this… kids may resist boundaries initially, but they love them!
Boundaries around sleeping mean consistent bedtimes and naptimes.
Boundaries around eating mean consistent mealtimes, snack times, and meal time expectations.
Boundaries around behavior mean consistent responses, expectations, and clear communication.
Parenting Toddlers Is Tiring, But Not Complex
While you may feel exhausted from hyper-vigilance and tired of meltdowns and tantrums… take heart.
These early years can be wearisome, but they aren’t complex.
Toddlers need love, attention, boundaries.
Toddlers need sleep, healthy food, and limits.
When you find consistency in these things… parenting toddlers becomes a joy, not a drag.