There’s no manual when it comes to bringing up children and the toddler years can be particularly challenging. Avoid these common toddler mistakes and your life should be a whole lot easier…
Not Having a Routine
Toddlers need consistency; they like to know what to expect. If they know when to have a bath, eat food and go to bed, they’ll be more likely to be agreeable. It also prevents them from getting overtired and frustrated because things aren’t as they should be. Try to keep to a regular routine as much as you can.
Sending Mixed Messages
You’ll be surprised just how early children learn that they can play mommy and daddy off against each other. Don’t let it happen; make sure you both have a consistent message and stick to it. Sit down from time to time as your child gets older and agree what will happen in various different potential situations; that way, both mommy and daddy can give the same message.
Moving to a Big Bed’ Too Early
There are a lot of ‘firsts’ that you get to experience with toddlers, but moving too fast can backfire. The ideal time to get rid of the crib and move your toddler into a real bed is when he or she either starts climbing out of the crib, when he or she is about 35 cm tall or when he’s between two or three. Trying to move your child into a real bed before that can result in a lot of broken nights.
Too Much Emphasis on ‘Family Time’
Don’t get us wrong, family time is important and both kids and parents love spending one-on-one time together. There’s no need to rigidly schedule too much, however, or ‘save’ it for special occasions. By far the best way to get enough family time is to get down on the floor and play with your child, and to read bedtime stories to him or her.
Not Letting Toddlers Struggle
It’s tempting to jump in and help when your toddler is struggling with something, but think before you do. You may be standing in the way of them becoming self-reliant. Obviously don’t let your child struggle forever but encourage them to have a go. They need to know that some effort is acceptable. They’ll also be thrilled when they manage to do something themselves for the first time.
If your child absolutely does something wrong and you say ‘NO’, don’t fall into the trap of subsequently negotiating with them. While you may want to sit down and explain your reasoning for the bigger issues, don’t do it for everything. If you said no to a cookie, for instance, there’s no reason to negotiate or try to explain it later. It only tends to escalate the situation and what was just a ‘no’ to a cookie leads to arguing, then yelling and even maybe hitting as frustration mounts. Don’t forget that toddlers are often just too young to understand the logic of what you’re saying anyway, so make them obey simple rules instead.