We’re still the same people we always were.
For years my partner told me that I gave my kids too many choices. He kept insisting that instead of asking them I should be telling them. At the time, I thought that sounded harsh and it became an issue of contention. Obviously, this caused quite a few rifts, but in my infinite wisdom I kept doing it because I thought I was doing the right thing.
Ironically, now that I’m older and perhaps a bit wiser, I must admit that he was right (don’t tell him that though!). So when I’m out and about and I see parents asking their toddlers to make decisions, I have to stop and laugh. Not only does it take FOREVER for them to arrive at a decision, but often the choices in front of them are completely overwhelming. I see the confusion on these littlies’ faces as they are forced to make quick decisions and I feel for them.
Why parents get their toddlers to make decisions
Now, there are a few reasons why parents get their kids to make decisions and it usually starts when they’re toddlers. The first and most obvious reason is because they are damn bossy little creatures. Yes, you did read that correctly. As toddlers, they want their own way 100 per cent of the time – that’s their primary objective in life. Plus they will demand relentlessly and they’re not afraid to throw a tantrum anywhere, or at any time and place, to get their own way.
What parents do to save themselves some sanity is get them to choose what they want to watch on TV, what they want to eat, which pair of pants they will attempt to put on and the list goes on. It’s all done in an effort to keep their darling little angel from turning into Satan in front of their eyes.
The second reason, which is less obvious but still relevant, is that parents are too afraid to make a mistake. Yes, you read that correctly too. For one, they know all too well what will happen if they hand their toddler a banana but they want an apple. Parents have been conditioned by their children to know what to expect if they get it wrong. You see, their charming little bundle of joy will throw a sissy fit until said parent gets it right.
Now, there’s actually two parts to the idea about parents not wanting to make a mistake. Besides the obvious attempt to bypass tantrums, there’s also the blame factor. When mistakes are made someone is usually to blame. There are some parents out there who don’t want to be blamed later on for the mistakes of their children. Therefore, if they let their children make all the decisions, all blame will be removed.
These type of people will generally avoid making any type of decision specifically for this reason. Whether they do it consciously or not is another question, however. I understand that this does sound ridiculous because giving children 100 per cent choice is ultimately their decision. However, in their heads that’s their only decision, so anything beyond that they really can’t be blamed for. Weird isn’t it, but it does happen more than people realise.
What’s wrong with giving kids a choice?
Okay, so you might be wondering what’s so bad about getting toddlers and kids to make decisions. After all, it does save a lot of headaches and the kids will grow up quite able to make decisions and be independent, right? Well sorry, your wrong. VERY WRONG!
If it’s to avoid toddler or little children headaches, may I offer a word of advice? Little children are easier to say no to than unrelenting, argumentative, determined teens! Toddler tantrums are nothing compared to teen tantrums. Teen tantrums involve slamming doors, broken technology like mobile phones, yelling, swearing and running away. Trust me, a toddler is far easier to tame than a teen!
Additionally, imagine for a second households that are run by toddlers and small children… Basically if they make all the decisions they’d have you running around like a slave to get their needs met. I’m sure many of us have seen videos of little people who are in charge and this is what actually happens.
I remember seeing a reality show where a pair of grandparents were unable to get a seat belt over a child in their moving vehicle. When a police office saw this and asked them about it, they reasoned this was because the child had refused. To them, this was perfectly reasonable and couldn’t fathom why on earth they received the fine because the child was at fault. Yeah, this is a true story. Imagine that household?
Now as far as giving kids an opportunity to learn about decision making, there are plenty of opportunities to do this without putting pressure on them to make decisions 24/7 from a young age. It actually places kids under a lot of stress and makes them anxious. We forget, kids don’t want to make mistakes either.
As parents, we always want to do the right thing by our kids and often it’s not until we look back that we can see where we made mistakes. Initially I thought telling them instead of asking was a bit harsh, when in actual fact I was treating them like adults and not children. They didn’t need nor want that responsibility but I forced it upon them. Luckily, my partner stuck to his guns and was as stubborn as he is because this gave them some relief.
Some kids don’t get that relief and they are forced to decide every aspect of their lives from a very young age. The key thing to remember here is that they aren’t adults with adult decision making capabilities. They’re children – and they should be able to live without the stress of responsibility for a while.
Toddlers are at once ridiculously cute and funny, yet frustrating and incredibly hard to tame.
I’ve got two-year-old and three-year-old daughters and such is their tantrums, as is the norm for their ages, I swear one day I’m going to wake up with a giant patch of grey in my hair.
Parenting can be an incredibly thankless, confusing and just a plain tough job: you have to be an excellent role model, and incredibly loving and nurturing, plus a good disciplinarian, all at once! So, when it comes to toddler wrangling, does a naughty corner/naughty step/time out – call it what you will – actually work?
I’m in the process of trialling the naughty corner with my feisty and finicky eating three-year-old to mixed results. Is there a secret to this tried and tested parenting technique?
The celebrated ‘naughty step’, made famous by UK reality TV star Jo Frost of Super Nanny fame (pictured), is much-loved by thousands of parents, according to the former nanny. Frost claims the naughty step can dramatically transform children’s behaviour and, even better; it gives exhausted parents a strategy for household peace.
The Naughty Step works best from age three, she says – a naughty mat can be used for littlies prior to this – with the key premise being that when a toddler is placed in a particular calm spot for time out, with no distractions, this gives the naughty, little tyke time to think about what has happened and repent. And consistency is key: Frost advises one minute for each year of his/her age is the perfect length of time.
“Every new rule or discipline technique is difficult at first. Just stay calm, be consistent and remain firm and it will get easier… Eventually!” she has been quoted as saying. Yet even the Super Nanny concedes every child is different and the naughty step doesn’t always work, with her offering solutions to common toddler problems on the official Super Nanny website.
However, Dr Karen Phillip (pictured), who’s one of Australia’s leading family therapists and parenting experts, told me the latest research and thinking on toddler discipline is less punitive and about shaming toddlers, which is bad for their burgeoning self-esteem. Instead, she advocates a “thinking spot” as opposed to the old-school naughty corner/naughty step/time out.
“I don’t like the term ‘naughty corner’ – I much prefer the ‘thinking spot’, because what you’re doing is removing the child to a safe place or spot for a stretch and connecting that behaviour,” Dr Phillip says.
“It depends, of course, on what the child has done as to whether it warrants a thinking spot. If the child has been deliberately wilful and/or hurt their sibling, it may help to isolate them to a safe place so they can think about their behaviour.
“The high emotion of the parent also needs to be considered, for when you have high emotion, rational thinking and logic goes out the window. This is where the thinking spot can also help.”
Dr Phillip also recommends the laundry as a thinking-spot location – once you’ve made it kid-friendly and removed all dangerous objects. “Choose a corner or a room in which your child wouldn’t normally go,” she says, “Remove the child from comfort and don’t place them in their bedrooms and/or shut the door if they’re under seven.”
Another key message from Dr Phillip is the importance of teaching children about consequences through choices. “Toddlers don’t have good self-control, but are actually really clever,” she says. “It’s crucial to give a child a choice. Say: ‘I’m asking you not to do that’ when they display silly behaviour and give them a consequence of their action.
“So, ‘I’m asking you to please eat your dinner so you grow healthy and strong’ – use a request, not an instruction or order. Then, tell them that if they don’t eat their dinner they will go to bed with a hungry tummy and not get to read a book they really like.”
Of course, as any mother (or father) of toddlers knows – these little people just love to push the boundaries. “You’ve got to be really firm with toddlers,” Dr Phillip says. “But it’s imperative to make requests, not an instruction or order.”
Images via www.ivillage.com.au; www.thebloomingblog.co.uk; www.parentdish.co.uk
What do you think? What method of toddler discipline do you swear by?
It’s no secret that as a mother of a toddler, you’ll have to find superwoman-like mind strength and Mother Teresa-like patience.
Small people are a trying bunch; ridiculously cute, but ever-growing and evolving, they can shock and surprise you with new habits, such as toddler fears, just when you think you’ve got them all worked out. A case in point is my three-year-old daughter, who’s suddenly developed an almighty fear of the “big bath.”
You see, my husband and I bathed her and her two-year-old sister together in a small baby bath within our big bath up until only recently, because it was easier to contain two slippery little tykes. But now that they’ve well and truly outgrown it, we’ve upgraded to the adult-size bath and OMG, the tears and the tantrums?! I swear our neighbours must think we’re child abusers. The horror!
It’s the flush-down-the-drain dread that’s got my little one losing her tiny mind. What’s more, no amount of soothing or coaxing seems to help and she’s stubbornly refusing to sit down in the bath each night, all the while screaming like a banshee as if we’re torturing her.
Meanwhile, her two-year-old sister is equally baffled by her odd behaviour and then she works herself up into a frenzy in kind, after witnessing her sibling’s nightly bath-induced meltdowns. It’s like dealing with terrorists, I tell you! And all this is very upsetting at times and far from bloody ideal.
Child health experts say toddler fears are very common, in part due to their ever-evolving imaginations. As they grow, they start to realise they can get hurt and bad things can happen.
Experts say never admonish or belittle your child over his or her immoveable fears. Instead, we parents must dig deep and give our toddlers an ample dose of sympathy. We’re also advised to tell our little ones that it’s OK to have fears and praise any progress he or she makes, no matter how little.
That’s all good and well, but my advice is you may need a glass of wine (or two) afterwards, too. It’s hard to see your child upset and beyond reason, but like all toddler phases – this soon shall pass. At least that’s what my friends tell me!
Common toddler fears
- The bath
- Loud noises
- Doctor visits
- Santa and other costumed performers
- The ocean
- The dark
What do you think? What are your toddler’s fears?
Images via todaysparent.com, drgreene.com and magicmum.com
On TV recently I saw a toddler roaming freely around a moving car. When questioned, it was stated that the toddler refused to sit in the seat or wear a belt. I think the child was about two years old. Now despite the fact it was ludicrous stating this as a valid excuse to avoid a fine, it did get the cogs turning. I thought to myself, what if all toddlers were really in charge? Can you imagine what that scenario would look like behind closed doors?
For starters, I wonder what would be on the menu? Fruit, veggies and custard with stewed apples? I highly doubt it. As soon as that kid got a taste of McDonald’s and began collecting those happy meal figurines I’m pretty sure fruit and veggies wouldn’t get much of a look in. As far as drinks go, I reckon they’d ditch their water bottles or pop tops and go for a nice cold glass of Coke. They don’t care if they don’t sleep or if their teeth rot.
Which brings me to bedtime. As they’re fully hyped up on sugar and processed foods, bedtime would become a thing of the past. An overtired toddler has no idea what’s going on. They just scream until they get their own way. Which, by the way, they have no idea what that is. What’s the bet they’d hold out until they couldn’t hold out anymore and just drop on the spot and sleep where ever they happened to land.
Be aware though that as soon as you move them, they’ll wake up. A toddler in charge wants attention day and night, especially when you want to sleep. Not to mention that your sex life will definitely suffer. Toddlers don’t know that mummy and daddy need alone time. When they do finally sleep, they’d prefer to do it snuggled up next to you. This not only assures attention but will prevent you from having another child. This means they’ll get to rule the roost for years to come and never be required to share.
Now bathtime could possibly go one way or the other depending on the child’s preference. You could either get a nudist always wanting warm water for the tub or a stinky baby who won’t go near it. Toddlers don’t have a middle ground and it will be all or nothing.
As far as entertainment goes, the TV would be permanently on and switched to ABC kids. If they’ve grasped the concept of DVDs you might get a continuous playback of the Wiggles, Dora the Explorer or Thomas the Tank engine. You can forget the late-night crime shows or reality TV. Hubby can totally forget about watching sport as well. Toddlers just aren’t into that and remember it’s all about them, so you’ll have no say.
There won’t be any more adult outings either. All trips would either be to the local park, beach or swimming pool. They generally hate the shops, so you’d need to order everything online. Plus you won’t be heading to the movies, pub or club anytime soon. You may get away with visiting friends or relatives but as soon as the toddlers had enough you’ll need to leave.
You may get to sneak off to work but the toddler won’t be too happy when mum leaves the house. They have no idea that work equals housing, food and entertainment. If you’re lucky, all income will need to be brought in by dad if the toddler lets him leave. There won’t be working from home options either. That toddler’s going to demand your attention 24/7.
In the car, you’ll probably experience what the toddler did at the beginning of the story. Defiant till the end, they won’t want to be restrained. They have no fear and safety to a toddler isn’t even a word! They’ll jump around from front to back and probably end up perched in the front seat on the driver’s lap driving the damn car. They don’t care they just want the best view.
So consider the chaos it would cause if toddlers did run the show. Was it just in the car that the toddler had control? I somehow doubt that. Perhaps this a glimpse at how they really live? Hmm, the mind really does boggle. What were these people thinking? Don’t they know toddlers grow into teens? If they think their life is bad now, wait till that happens!
Feeding toddlers can be a challenging task. Sometimes they love food, other times they hate it. They might eat anything white, but don’t come near them with red food. Oh, wait, the colour of the day has just changed to yellow! They change their mind faster than you could prepare any food they ask for, so it’s no wonder you might be feeling reluctant to cook (or is it just me?). Who likes cooking meals that will go untouched at best and thrown all over the floor if you’re less lucky? But whether we like it or not, we need to feed our tots, so here are some ideas for meals that are easy to make and can be adjusted to suit the rest of the family.
Tots usually love pasta and it’s easy to hide extra veggies in the sauce. When you’re cooking spaghetti Bolognese for dinner, substitute the spaghetti for pasta shells, spirals or funny animal pasta shapes they sell for kids. It’ll make the meal less messy and more fun for the toddler, who’ll be able to feed himself independently.
Boil 1 cup of sushi rice in the rice cooker, then add 3 table spoons of rice wine vinegar and 1 table spoon of sugar. Mix thoroughly. The rice is now ready to spread onto nori sheets. Get your toddler to add their favourite sushi fillings (veggies, tuna, salmon, cooked chicken, avocado) and you can make your own sushi the way you prefer it.
We have Make Your Own Pizza nights every now and then at home. We use Greek pitta bread as a base, lay out different toppings and each family member chooses what to put on their pizza. My toddler can be a bit impatient and the toppings get eaten before making it to the pizza. But she ends up eating lots of different things and she gets full, and that’s what matters, isn’t it?
I use honey sauce for the stir-fries I cook for my children. It gives the dish a sweet taste and even my toddler will eat her veggies when they’re sweet. When the honey soy flavour gets too much for me, I cook two different stir-fries (one for the kids and one for the adults), but it’s not hard. I’d use the same ingredients, cook them together, then split them into two woks (ok, I only have one wok, the second one is a pan) and add the sauces.
What are your favourite meals to make for your tot?
Image by GREENFROGGY1 via pixabay.com
Toddler tantrums are a sight to behold – it might even be funny, if it was happening to someone else. Example: My two-and-a-half-year-old just threw a monumental temper tantrum because I committed the motherly crime of cutting her Vegemite sandwich into squares instead of triangles. Please don’t call DoCS!?
Trying to parent a toddler in the midst of the “terrible twos” can be exhausting, baffling, upsetting and downright frustrating time. I thought I knew my little one very well until she started morphing into The Incredible Hulk without warning. So, what causes these ticking time bombs?
Child experts say hunger, fatigue, overstimulation and boredom are common reasons why your little person has headed to Meltdown Town. What’s more, toddlers often can’t yet properly articulate what they want through words, hence their anger and frustration. And, if your feisty toddler’s anything like mine, she’s suddenly turned Little Miss Independent, now refusing to allow me to do simple tasks such as dress/undress her. Gah!?
My husband and I have also grappled with yet another cause of toddler tantrums – setting either too few or too many limits – getting the balance right is tricky. So, how do you defuse these explosive situations without calling in the UN?! Experts say to try these strategies – experiment with what works best with your child’s personality:
Cool as a cucumber
Try to stay calm first and foremost. This is easier said than done, I know! And, just like you would with a wild animal, you’re meant to speak softly to a banshee child.
Art of distraction
This is my fave method of calming a crazy toddler – “Look, quick! Is that a bird outside?” or the like always works a treat. Create fun diversions, where possible.
Tickle funny bones
Humour is a great way to soften an angry toddler – um, apparently! I’m still working on this one myself, though it has worked at times. The trick, experts say, is to use silly humour such as voices, sing-songs and jokes to calm your Hulk.
Keep littlies busy
The idiom “idle hands are the devil’s handiwork” is true with a toddler, methinks. Give them fun and active tasks with which to occupy them and there’s less chance for tantrums. I think…
How do you best cope with and combat toddler tantrums?
Image via pixabay.com
In a flash your sweet happy child turns into a raging strange creature. There’s nothing you can do to stop this creature from wailing, kicking and throwing himself on the floor. Then, just as suddenly, the outburst is over and the child you know is back. What did just happen?
Welcome to the world of toddler tantrums. They are a result of your toddler’s limited ability to deal with the world around them. They see, hear and feel things that they‘re not sure what to do with. At the same time, they can’t put what they’re feeling in words and ask you for help, so the frustration often comes out in ways that both parents and our children find stressful.
Tips to avoid tantrums
Tantrums often happen because of hunger, fatigue or overstimulation. These can be avoided by simply watching your child and making sure his needs are met. A useful tool to minimise tantrums are routines. Most kids feel safer and more in control of their lives when their day is somewhat predictable.
Consistency and clear boundaries also help make the child’s world easier for them to understand. Have firm rules about crossing the road, watching TV or anything else that you may feel strongly about and your toddler may want to challenge. After a while, your child will come to accept calmly that this is just how things are.
If your toddler throws tantrums when things don’t go his way, it helps to cut down on the need to say ‘no’. Childproof your home, keep lollies and chips out of sight, don’t leave your smart phone lying around.
When you can’t avoid them
No matter what you do, you won’t be able to avoid every single tantrum. There’ll be situation when your child experiences emotions he can’t cope with and he doesn’t have the language skills to tell you about them. So if a tantrum happens in spite of your efforts, the best things you can do is stay calm, keep your child safe and wait for the tantrum to run its course (it gets easier with practice). For some children these emotional tantrums for no obvious reason may be rare, but for others they’re a daily occurrence, so if it happens to you, know that it’s not your fault. Your child is learning to regulate his emotions and tantrums are a part of this natural process.
Image by David Thompson via Flickr.com
By Tatiana Apostolova
Do you have toddlers or kids that have taken over of the household? Do they manage to get what they want by screaming, yelling, tantrums or other negative behaviour? If you want a simple solution to your problem child….this article is for you!
Don’t beat yourself up about what’s happened in the past, because you have the power and opportunity to change things. It doesn’t matter how hopeless you feel the situation has become either. Rather than giving your child the impression they might get what they want by screaming, nagging or tantrums; you need to let them know that they won’t. No matter how bad the behaviour gets, don’t give in. Being consistent with you child is the only way your child will learn, when you say no, you mean it.
So, how do you do it? Obviously, things will take some time to rectify, so don’t start this change in the middle of the shopping centre! The best place to start is in your own home, with smaller things. For example; smaller children often play up at bedtime. Being consistent with their bed time routine is essential. What they want is your attention. Don’t give it to them. Engaging your child each time they call out or are out of bed only reinforces the behaviour.
Once they have been put to bed, unless they need your attention, rather than simply want it; ignore them. Even if they scream, cry, hurl things across the room; whatever. Sit against the bedroom door if you have to so they can’t get out or hurt themselves. Be prepared for a full blown episode on the first and possible second or third occasion. An hour or two to start is not unusual. Within a week, they will get the idea that there is no point in getting up and down and when they go to bed, they will stay there. This is the foundation of consistency for your child.
Whatever the situation is, consistency should be your number one objective. If you go to the supermarket, don’t give in on that one or two occasions at the checkout, unless you are prepared to do it each time you visit. If you tell you child you are leaving the park, don’t give into their demands when they want to stay, unless you are prepared to deal with their negative behaviour each time you leave.
Being consistent will also provide valuable boundaries which every child craves, plus teach them essential life skills. As they get older you won’t have children who run your home, abuse you or use other methods of manipulation to get their way. Remember, your child will get older and giving into small demands when they are young will turn into more extravagant demands in years to come!
By Kim Chartres
When the time comes to send your little ones off to daycare, you want to be sure you’re making the experience a happy one, for them and you. Those first few years of life are important for children as their physical, cognitive, emotional and social development evolves. Finding a centre where your children can thrive, feel happy and safe is crucial as well as somewhere that you are comfortable with.
Once you have made a list of the centres that you’re interested in visiting, remember these important questions to ask yourself to help you come to the ultimate decision.
Does the centre have a reputable name or any complaints against it? Word of mouth is a great way of finding out what people really think. Don’t believe everything you hear though – ensure you do your own research to find out for yourself. Search the internet for any reviews, positive or negative.
Does the centre look safe? It’s imperative that daycare centres adhere to strict health and safety guidelines to ensure the safety of the children at all times. Ask plenty of questions when you visit such as when were the smoke alarms last tested? Are the electrical sockets covered? Do they have an evacuation plan and how often do they practice? Is there adequate security to protect the children from strangers?
Are the staff friendly and welcoming? Your children need to feel comfortable turning to their teachers in times of need otherwise it could be an awful experience for a young child who is left feeling alone and forgotten. A centre that has staff who can connect and build relationships with children is extremely important.
Do they have records of what children do all day? Some parents like to know how much their children have eaten, if they had a sleep and how many nappy changes they’ve had each day. Ensure the centre keep these records up to date and ask to see some examples.
Is the centre tidy? Keeping a daycare centre clean can be a hard task during the day when the children are busy having fun making a mess but at the end of each day they should be cleaned to a minimum standard. If you visit a centre early in the morning check the cleanliness. The rubbish bins should be empty, the dining areas and bathrooms should be clean and the floors should have been vacuumed.
Is there adequate shade in the outdoor play areas? The sun in Australia can be unforgiving at times and although most centres now insist on children wearing hats and sunscreen whilst outside, playing in the shade is equally important.
Does the centre offer a nutritious menu and easy access to drinking water? Ensure that the menus offer a variety of foods such as fruit, vegetables, bread, dairy and meat. Water should also be available and accessible at all times for the children to drink.
If all else fails and you’ve asked yourself all of the questions above but are still having a hard time coming to a decision, the last resort is normally going on your instinct. When you visit the centres you’ll get a feeling about whether a centre has a good vibe or not and if it feels right for your child. Trust your instincts.
Image via defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=55152
By Karyn Miller
Toilet training your child doesn’t have to be a painful experience for you, or for them. Toddlers are transitioning into a new period in their lives, and working through potty training with patience and optimism is the best way to make it work. Once you’ve commenced the process of toilet training, be aware that any progress may take a few weeks to show, until children begin to understand what is required of them. Sticking to a routine is the best way to give your child an easy transition from nappies to the potty.
When are they ready?
Children are usually toilet trained from the age of two, although some kids are ready earlier or later than this age. Generally the number one sign is when children become more independent with various tasks, and tell you in one way or another when their nappy is full and are ready to be changed. A number of factors are important when one considers toilet training their child. Most daycare facilities prefer if children are toilet trained, so make sure you have enough time to train your child before they head off to daycare.
The first step is picking out a potty for your child. Try to involve them as much as you can in the process, and let them pick out something with a design that they like. There are many different colours, patterns and cartoon characters which are fun for children to interact with. The more they grow accustomed to it, the less they will become afraid of it.
Sticking to a daily routine is the best way to get children to adjust to any new feature in their lives. Include the potty in conversation, and make it something which is accessible to children at any time of the day. Start with getting children on the potty when they wake up and go to sleep, and they will start to wander off and do it themselves in no time.
Remind them when it’s time to go
Children can get sidetracked extremely fast, and this could lead to accidents when they’re starting out. Gently remind or ask them if they need to go, and they will more than likely say yes. Pretty soon they will be able to identify when to go themselves, without being asked. If your child does have the occasional accident, don’t be angry or get them into trouble. They’re just starting out, so be sure to let them know next time to use the potty.
Create a chart and document the amount of times your child uses the potty in a day, week or month. Use fun stamps and stickers to show them how much they have achieved without a nappy. This positive reinforcement will not only make children feel good about themselves, but also excited about the reward they would receive for their wonderful behaviour.
Do you have any tips from potty training your toddler?
Image via PottyTraining.Co.Uk