Supernanny Jo Frost giver her advice on how to deal with your baby turning into a teenager-like tantrum throwing toddler
Watching your tot blossom from a baby into his own little person is an amazing time for every proud parent. “It’s when his little character traits become very present,” says Jo Frost. But as your little one toddles towards the terrible twos, feeling nervous can be a positive emotion, says Jo.
“All of a sudden your little cherub has a voice, a personality, and a temper, and parents will be anxious,” she says. “But being anxious allows us to become more diligent about what skills we need to enjoy the toddler years.” Raising a toddler requires a whole new set of parenting skills. “It’s essential to be patient and consistent. There’s so much a parent needs to teach and learn, but it’s an incredibly fun stage of your child’s development,” she says.
As magical as the toddler milestones may be, it’s also a time of tears and tantrums. So how do you deal with your tot’s mini-meltdowns? Here’s Jo’s expert advice for…
A screaming and unreasonable toddler can leave even the most chilled out parent feeling helpless and embarrassed. But it’s important to remember that tantrums are one of your tot’s ways of expressing himself, whether he’s tired, angry or frustrated. And as long as these emotions don’t hurt someone, parents should allow their tot to have them, says Jo. “Toddlers live in their own little bubble so when they’re not getting their own way, it’s very easy for a parent to want to control the emotion,” she says.
Try this: “Parents should respond but not react,” says Jo. Ignore his behaviour and don’t try and reason with him, as he won’t understand. You simply have to wait until the tantrum burns itself out.
This two-letter word can turn even the simplest of tasks into a battle of wills that’s bound to frustrate even the most patient parent. “Children engage in power play as toddlers. They’re trying to figure out who’s in control – you or them,” says Jo. It’s easy to give in for the sake of a bit of peace and quiet, but in the long run you’re making life harder on you and your tot. “The good news is that once you win, the issue generally goes away,” adds Jo.
Try this: “There’s a difference between telling your child, and asking him,” says Jo. Instead of asking your little one ‘Do you want to put your shoes on and we’ll go to the park?’, rephrase it so you’re gently telling him by saying ‘Put your shoes on because we’re going to the park’. “Keep your tone of voice conversational – it’s when you’re disciplining your tot that you need to firm up your voice,” advises Jo.
As soon as your tot finds his feet, he’ll want to walk and run everywhere, including places you don’t want him to go. “When I’m looking at children who run off, it’s normally the same parents who have problems with their child listening to them,” says Jo. “In the toddler years, it’s important to have a balance of allowing him to walk and being in the buggy,” says Jo.
Try this: “The roaming technique teaches your toddler how to remain safe and stay near you, while giving him space to roam,” says Jo. Tell your little one he can hop out of the pushchair, but when you say ‘Stop!’ and hold up your hand, he needs to stop, wherever he is. “As soon as he tests that boundary, get him to hold on to the stroller for a few minutes, which gives him the boundary again. He’ll very quickly get it if he wants the freedom of no hands,” Jo says.
You might cringe as your little one snatches a toy out of another tot’s hand, but rest assured that learning to share will develop over time. “There’s an expectation that your toddler will just do as you say the first time and everything will be OK, so that’s why repetition is one of the essential tools that are necessary in the toddler years,” says Jo. Encourage your tot to share at every single opportunity and lead by example, too.
Try this: A trip to the library is a good way to teach your tot that the books and toys are for everybody to use, suggests Jo. “And playdates are important for helping your little one to understand that other children will come to his house and play with his toys so he needs to share them. Enjoying the friendships and the fun that comes from that allows your child to learn the lesson,” she adds.
“Some parents don’t tell a toddler about a new arrival until the last minute, while others choose to involve the child from the get go, and I think that’s really a personal choice,” says Jo. It’s important to keep your toddler’s routine the same and teach him valuable life skills during your pregnancy so you’re not dealing with two ‘babies’ in nine months time. “It’s important for your tot to learn how to get dressed and be more self-sufficient so he can be proud of his independence. If you don’t, your toddler can become very jealous because all of a sudden he’s expected to learn these life skills overnight,” warns Jo.
Try this: Allow your toddler to give suggestions on what the baby should wear or what lullaby you should sing. “Getting your child involved in what you do with the new baby is important because it brings all of you together. If he doesn’t want to be involved, then let go of it and don’t expect him to be skipping over to put the nappy into the bin,” says Jo. It may take a while, but slowly your tot will adjust to the new family structure.
This is another common catchphrase that can send you a little batty. Your tot’s brain is like a little sponge and he wants to absorb as much as he can, so patience is needed by the bucket load. “You’re raising a toddler who’s inquisitive and curious and wanting to learn, so embrace that. Some parents will get fed up because it’s a repetitive chant and often they don’t know the answers. But instead of getting frustrated, just admit you don’t know and say you can find out,” says Jo.
Try this: “If you find that everything’s a question, then have 10 minutes of downtime where you tell your toddler that there are no more questions now. Do something else and then you can have questions afterwards,” says Jo.
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