3 Keys to Taming Your Toddler

3 Keys to Taming Your Toddler

Rhonda RobinsonBy Rhonda Robinson6 Minutes

Is there a marauding toddler in your house? If so, nothing is sacred or safe. These short years are infamously called the “terrible twos,” which they can be for you. For your toddler it is the most wondrous time of life—there is so much to discover and conquer.  You can enjoy this stage of childhood. Believe it or not, at one point in our lives, we had a toddler in the house for twenty years. When you have nine children about two years apart for twenty years, that puts a baby in your arms and one standing on your toes for two solid decades.

Would you like to enjoy this stage of your little guy’s childhood? Of course, you would. Believe me, when I say doesn’t have to be terrible. Exhausting yes. There’s no matching the boundless energy of a toddler. But it can also be a delightful stage. Here are a few quick tools for your parenting tool bag.

Get in front of him not behind him.

You have a choice. You can either chase him around the house pulling him out of the clothes dryer and cabinets or direct him where to go. Toddlers are simply exploring their world. Their little brains are growing at a staggering rate. They are delighted at the simplest things. After all, everything is brand new. The downside is they eat rocks and can’t tell the difference between soap and soil.

Get ahead of him by creating safe places to explore.

Using a playpen falls in the same category as electronics. They are both great when used in moderation. Keep doors closed, create spaces for your little guy to roam, and explore. Playpens are best used as a safe haven for your toddler when you are cooking or need a few minutes of personal time without a tiny person at your feet. However, throughout the day, he needs to be able to explore her new world so she can grow into it safely. Baby gates work well in keeping tiny people within your sight.

However, if you don’t give them something to do in those spaces you are still chasing him.

Create safe boundaries.

In creating safe boundaries it is important to consider that there are two lines of defense. First, the obvious is external. Most parents don’t have a problem covering outlets and blocking stairs to keep their children safe. But that doesn’t always work. That puts you behind them—chasing them. Let’s face it. They are quicker and have more determination and energy than you do. That’s why it is so important to get ahead of them.

Never underestimate even a one-year-old’s ability to understand you. They learn at an alarming rate. Teach early on that there places and things that are forbidden. Here’s the rule: If something, or a behavior, will harm your child swift action must be taken. You must get through to him that touching an outlet, for example, will bring swift and unpleasant punishment by you. It is much better for your child to suffer consequences for his actions brought on by you, than the natural consequences of playing with electricity, or breaking away from you and running into a crowded parking lot will bring. Those outcomes are what you want to teach him to avoid. You could have only one shot at teaching that lesson. Make sure it’s one he knows well.

Create “play stations.”

Give your little thrill-seeker things to find around the room. Children get bored with toy boxes quickly. It doesn’t matter how many toys it’s filled with. In fact, the more toys they have the fewer children will play with any of them. Often times we keep toys around simply because they were gifts, or you paid a lot for them.

Instead of an overfilled toy box, try placing toys on a small bookshelf. A bookshelf with just a few shelves lined with favorite toys looks enticing. A couple of boxes stacked up hiding toys are a fun find.

The secret to your children enjoying their toys is age appropriateness. Toddlers are practicing their new walking, balancing, and climbing skills. Picking up and stuffing things in, shutting doors, taking off lids.

One note of encouragement. It makes us feel good as parents to buy our children nice things. That’s fine. But in reality, a toddler can have just as much fun with a cardboard box, as most toys. Especially if you crawl inside once in a while and play with him.