Maybe it’s something to do with him being my last, or maybe I’ve finally cracked this parenting lark (definitely not that) but I’m actually really enjoying the toddler phase this time round. Yes you read that right! Oh there are still times when I yearn for bedtime and it’s only 11am, when the constant demands not just from the toddler but from the others too just drive me crazy, and the mess – Gah!
But here’s the thing. As soon as they start developing little personalities and walking, talking, having their own will and determination, it’s a celebration. Of life, of the love we give them, our nurturing is all coming out. The confidence he has with life, the relationships he has with his siblings and family, it’s mind blowing. Seeing him unfold into a person before my very eyes, learning new words and actions every day. Saying please and thank you, giving hugs and kisses, going about life with an abandon only children this young have, not caring about what they look like, or what others think. Such freedom! The pleasure I take when he discovers a new skill, copies other children and adults, I drink it in, try desperately to imprint all these happy times into my brain. This morning he was so happy to be outside he ran round and round our gardenia bush with a massive smile on his face. He didn’t want to wear the shorts I picked out so we settled on some swimming shorts instead. He chose luminous trainers because he likes how bright they are. He picks things up straight away and notices things I don’t. If I see things through his eyes it’s so simple and joyful. He loves with such fierceness, he’s so close to me and has endless love to give not just me but his whole family.
I am so grateful we have ready cameras and video cameras to record precious moments. Prepare for some toddler spam!
I thought I’d share how I deal with some common terrible two issues. I’m no expert, apart from having had three of them, and all children are different. Please comment with anything you do differently and any problems you have that I can try and help with.
Yes he has them – he sits on the floor and refuses to move unless it’s where he wants to go. For that I say firmly which way we have to go, and start walking. He will either follow me, or ask for help up and follow me. This can happen quickly or a little slower but always works. If we’re in a hurry and he’s not moving, I just go and pick him up, start walking with him, then put him down to walk again. If he wants a sweet or treat and it’s not time, I say no and mean it. I’ll offer an alternative healthy snack or wait until the main meal if it’s close. If he wants a second yoghurt, I give it to him. Choose your battles. Does it really matter at the end of the day?
Refusing to get dressed
There comes a time when they want to exert some control. Getting dressed is a difficult one, because often you leave it until you have to leave the house, to go on the school run or for an appointment. I just take the path of least resistance. Start earlier than necessary if you can, then you have more time to play with. If they have a favourite character T shirt or pair of socks, get a few of them to avoid a drama. Have clothes that are soft, breathable and easy to get on and off. Distract them with TV, food, games, anything that works, but try not to bribe them with sweets or treats constantly (I’ve done it in desperation and it works but there’s only so many sweets you should give!). I find playing a game works. What they really want is interaction with you, their favourite person. If they don’t want to put a nappy on, say you’ll wear it then and put it on your head. Play with them, ask them where it goes and then you’ll be able to get it on. Same with clothes, apart from going through their entire wardrobe before they settle on the first option you gave them which is the most fun ever (not), either distract them and get it on, or try putting a T shirt on their feet and ask them where it goes. Play peek a boo, where’s s/he gone? and if they’re old enough to understand, have a race to see who can get their trousers on first. They’ll eventually clock that getting dressed usually means going out, fun things. Whatever you say, make sure it’s something you can follow through with, otherwise they lose trust in what you say.
Going ramrod straight when putting them in the car seat
I find preparation is the key here, and routine. Once they get the hang of putting shoes on, coats, going to school/nursery at set times, they’ll just get swept up in the routine of it all. Keep it as swift and drama free as possible. Of course you can’t avoid it completely, I’ve been there so often otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. If he’s not keen to sit in his car seat I blow a raspberry on his tummy and that soon makes him bend in the middle, he laughs and will often then comply with the seatbelt. Taking their arms out of the seatbelt is another trick they do, just make sure it’s nice and tight and be honest with them, tell them it’s not safe and you don’t want them to get squashed. If they have other siblings it’s good to follow their example.
Being fussy with food
A toddler’s stomach is only small so number one is don’t expect them to eat too much, and if they’ve been snacking they won’t want a huge meal. Try to think of their diet as a whole over a week period rather than meal to meal. If they don’t have a vegetable or fruit each meal it’s not the end of the world. If they’re drinking enough it’s all good, and if they don’t eat much lunch they’ll probably eat a good dinner. Eat together where possible, and give them the same as what you eat. Don’t make mealtimes a battleground. If they don’t eat much, don’t break out the sweets and biscuits.
Until next time,