Toddlerhood is a time for exploration. Learning about the world by running, jumping, screaming, throwing, hitting, nose picking, biting, loud talking, picky eating, hugging, kissing, petting, singing and trying anything and everything. The reward is a reaction, good, bad or ugly from mommy, daddy, grandma, grandpa, nanny teacher or anyone that is watching him. And sometimes, our reactions get the better of us with a time-out, too many explanations and yes, bad words. But toddlerhood also has its advantages.
After all, as new parents, we are just starting to catch up on our sleep. We don’t have to schlepp so much with us each time we go out. Mealtimes are getting easier. No more baby food or bottles. Reading books, going to the playground, baking cookies and so many activities are not only fun but provide many great teaching moments. But sometimes, the words that come out of your toddler’s mouth and his body explorations want to make you run and hide. And even though you know this is all normal behavior, you may not show your best self in the two seconds you have to react.
Here are 5 things you can do when those behaviors raise their ugly heads:
- When your toddler picks his nose and shows you his prize, don’t say “Eeew, that’s gross.” Hand him a tissue, show him where the wastebasket is and go on with your day. If it happens again, do same thing. Consistency and not over-reacting is the name of the game when you have a toddler.
- If you’re in the check-out line at the grocery store and your toddler says; “Mommy why is that lady so fat?” No lectures, no talking, it’s not the time for this teaching moment. Divert his attention immediately. Ask him to find something red, give him your keys to hold, anything to draw the attention away from the lady in front of you. And if she is giving you a dirty look, say, “I’m so sorry.”
- If you’re in a public place and your toddler has a full-blown tantrum, throwing himself on the floor, crying and screaming. Don’t point to him and say; “whose child is this?” Pick him up and walk outside. The change in scenery sometimes stops the meltdown immediately. If not, put him in his car seat and come back later without him. Again, no lectures, explanations, or bargaining, just diffuse the tantrum immediately.
- If your toddler won’t take his hands out of his pants it’s time for redirection. Read a book, play Legos or go outside. If he is an older toddler, explain in a few sentences that he can only do that in his room. Keep it simple and no shaming.
- If your toddler is grinding against the corner of the sofa, no shrieking. Again, redirect. Books, tea party, doll or any other fun activity that she likes. For an older toddler, a simple explanation, and no shaming.
Just remember to keep your cool and have fun. This too shall pass.
Blythe Lipman, President and Founder of Baby Instructions based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a nationally recognized baby and toddler expert, a parenting consultant, an author of three award-winning books, Help! My Baby Came Without Instructions, More…Help! My Baby Came Without Instructions, and Help! My Toddler Came Without Instructions, a teacher, a caregiver, a keynote speaker, a blogger AND host of Baby and Toddler Instructions, a weekly Parenting Internet talk radio show which airs live every Wednesday at 11:00 am EST on itunes and toginet. She is owner of the online parenting magazine My Best Parenting Advice and the site Baby Instructions.
My Best Parenting Advice: 5 Things You Can Do When Your Toddler Embarrasses You by Blythe Lipman