Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Survivor: Toddlerhood

The other day after I posted "Toddler Truths", I immediately thought of more I could add. But I won't for now. Today, I am all about solutions, not just venting about problems. How can I fix this?

I did think I would share a few things I have learned about surviving toddlerhood. Not that I am an expert in any way...even after four kids, each day is a new surprise. And some days can be heavenly. Others...well, a bit trying. :) Afterwards, feel free to share your own "survival" tips. I always welcome seasoned advice and tried true tips...

  1. Humor. We have to laugh. Even when there are times I have to hide my smile, I have to laugh. Like when someone is unhappy at the restaurant and suddenly a hush puppy goes flying across the just have to smile (secretly). Otherwise, the tears may come. :)
  2. Choices. Toddlers love to have choices. I have figured out that so many of the "tantrums" (which I use loosely...that can be a cry of disapproval or a throwdown, kicking fit) are related to the feeling of helplessness. When I give choices, I am MUCH more likely to get compliance. Right now our todr is really big on wanting to walk...everywhere! So when he is being a bit of a turkey, my question is usually, "Walk or be carried?" More often than not, he goes for the "walk" and gets up to do it, forgetting whatever he was protesting in the first place. The key is to have few choices. Toddlers also get overwhelmed with too many choices.
  3. Routine, routine, routine. We have a fairly structured bedtime routine (among many others). That routine may sound rigid (though it is always subject to change) but it gives him a little power. He "knows" what is coming next. There is some comfort in that.
  4. Pick your battles carefully. If you choose every battle, you will live in a warzone. It is hard not to battle each and every thing. After all, we want long term character building. It is hard not to think, "He shouldn't get away with that..." However, character building is a block at a time. So some things we just have to deal with now, some later.
  5. Have a "support group". I am so fortunate to have a mom, a sister, and co-workers and friends to turn to when I am not sure how to handle things. Or to encourage me when I feel like a failure (hence yesterday's post...though that happens with all the kids, not just the toddler). They are also the ones I go to with the joys and funny adventures.
  6. Remember the good times. Really, the good is MUCH more than the bad. (Right now for us the bad is any change in routine, like having clothes changed or stopping for a bath) Our toddler is the sunshine of our house. He literally lights up our lives with his infectious giggle, his silliness, his quick wit. Why do I let a two minute tantrum cloud the whole day?
  7. Make them feel powerful. I think I mentioned this in Toddler Truths. Toddlers feel like they are losing all of the time. They are never old enough, never big enough, never going to "win". So sometimes I have to give him chances to "win" whether it is by carrying toilet paper from the store or letting him have just "one more" horsie ride.

I want to say a little more but must get some sleep. However, this is a good start. Please feel free to add to the list!



  1. Hi Reba! Been MIA for a bit, but I have enjoyed reading your latest posts. I so enjoy reading these posts...makes me feel like I am not the only one dealing with a "challenging" toddler! I completely agree with all these...if you don't laugh, you might just cry! I also realized to stop comparing Lucy to other toddlers...she may not follow the rules quite as well or listen quite as closely, but she has more fun living life. At one point, I had myself so stressed out that she was never going to succeed because she didn't always go with the flow. Now that I have stopped doing that I find Lucy so much more enjoyable.

  2. Spoken like a veteran. Thanks for the inspiration, Reba. This has been a TRYING week at my house. Guess I would add a big tip: Take Naps! The whole family. Things get ugly around here when either of us is tired.

  3. There isnt much to add, you pretty much hit them all.. I would of course add prayer.. sometimes I even pray outloud "Dear Lord, please help me have patience with Case and be the loving mother you want me to be and please give him a heart to mind his mommy and be the good/happy little boy you want him to be"... Case almost always straitens up/forgets what he was fussing about and its like his mood totally changes--and mine too!!
    Love this post!! Good stuff!!


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