Parenting Toddlers | Great Health Guide
Parenting Toddlers

Parenting Toddlers

This article was taken from Issue 1 of our magazine. For more articles like this, please subscribe to the Great Health Guide magazine – (subscription FREE for limited time only)
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Parenting toddlers written by Leanne Allen

Let’s face it … parenting toddlers can be the most amazing, fun, cute, adventurous time of your life…  or it can be sheer Hell!  Interestingly the words ‘Terrible Two’s’ seems to be an expected part of a toddler’s life – but does it need to be?

For young toddlers they are beginning a remarkable phase of independence. During this time they are starting to see themselves as separate from you, their caregiver. Prior to this they saw themselves as a part of you. Their world literally revolved around you and they relied on you for everything.

Now, between the ages of around 18 months and 3 years, they begin to figure out that they can do things for themselves. And they want to try everything by themselves! This is a normal part of growing up. They are finding independence and it can be quite frustrating for some parents. So, (you ask) how to deal with it?

Here are a few simple tips about how to prepare you for this journey.  If you’re already in it then great – here are some new ideas you can add to your bag of tricks.   A few keys include be patient while toddlers develop their independence. Knowing how to choose battles, discuss feelings and communicate what’s happening will go a long way toward re-establishing your sanity. Being playful along with them, un-plugging and monitoring eating habits will also help to establish harmony and avoid those inevitable temper tantrums.   Below are some more details.

1. Be Patient

Slow down! Children do not think like you do. They have been alive for a very short period of time and everything is an exploration. Get into your child’s model of the world! That is, get yourself down on the floor so that your eyes are at the same level and see what he sees. Everything is so big from down there!

Talk to your child using plain language. Slow down your voice a little and do not yell. If you yell, he will simply yell louder! When talking to your child never look down at him. Try being a child with another adult. Sit on the floor with the adult standing close to you. Now look up. Imagine how your child feels. It’s far nicer for your child to be brought up to your level by putting him on a chair or table or for you to get down on his level, whichever is safer for you both.

2.  Let them do it

If it is safe to do so, allow your child to try things on her own. If she wants to choose an outfit to wear that is mismatched, does it really matter? If you have somewhere special to go, then perhaps choose a couple of outfits and let her choose one. That way she feels like she has some say. Do this the night before to avoid conflict when you are rushing around trying to get ready the next morning. Allowing your child to make choices, helps her build confidence in herself and the world around her.

3.  Choose your battles

When locked in a dispute with your child, always ask yourself: “How important is this battle? Is it ok for my child to win this one?” Sometimes he has to win – it’s good for his self-esteem and psychological development. Plus, the more resistant you are to allow him independence, the more of a battle you will find yourself in. Conversely, if you do everything for your child he will develop thinking he cannot achieve anything on his own.

4.  Reflect back to them

Children, from newborns to teenagers, need to learn how to express themselves. This process can start from the very beginning of life. Saying ‘I know you are feeling angry and frustrated’, is far better than ‘Stop that yelling!!!!’  This teaches the language of feelings. Acknowledge how your child feels and let her know that you understand her. It helps if you get down into her space. It also allows you time to quickly think of what to do next.

5.Tell them what is going on

By telling toddlers what is happening at the moment and how things are going to happen in the future, you take away their anxiety.  Again, put yourself in their shoes: You are happily playing and suddenly someone whisks you away to eat, change a nappy or go somewhere. How happy would you be about that? Saying things like: ‘Emily, we need to change your nappy, and then you can come back and play’ is better than just doing it. Tell your child what is happening every step of the way. It may sound silly, but it does work. And yes, you can do this with infants too.

For more on this technique, go to the Marte Meo website ( There you will find a vast amount of information on how children can use their own strength to stimulate developmental processes.

6.  Play with them

Toddlers want and need lots of attention. The more attention they have in a good way, the less likely they are to try and get it in other ways. Any attention is better than none at all, from their point of view. Busy parents, the Internet, TV, socialising, other children — these can all mean that sometimes toddlers miss out. Playing with your toddler can make a huge difference! Just have fun with them! Go crazy. Do what you liked to do as a kid — go outside, get dirty, take risks, get wet, laugh, tickle, play hide and seek. Do what ever you want just have fun! And by the way, the benefits to you will also be awesome.

7. Turn off the screen (tablets, computer, tv)

Research has shown that toddlers and young children should not be playing with electronic devices. They will play with other, more traditional toys if you give them a chance. When you go out, take colouring books and crayons or other small toys with you. Overuse of iPads and mobile phones at this young age are not good for a child’s development. There are many articles on this topic from around the world, so have a read and decide what is best for your family. The most important thing to learn from this is that YOU are the most important thing that your child needs to play with! A living breathing human is better than any computer animation!

The Learn Fast ‘Leaning Capacity Blog’ has an interesting article on the role of iPads and other electronic devices. What it highlights is that parent communication is as important as ever, so don’t try to substitute personal interactions with ‘fun’ activities on the computer. Check out the article at:

8. Watch what you feed them

Feed toddlers a lot of sugar and you will regret it! Avoid all fizzy drinks and as much junk food as you can. At this age, they are learning how to eat. So, if you give them water regularly it is a great way to get them into good habits. Children’s brains are very malleable, so starting young with good habits is a lifetime lesson.

So, be patient while letting your toddler develop his independence.  Choose which battles to fight, talk about feelings and communicate what’s happening. Toddlers will develop a healthy self-confidence if you play with them on their level.  Turn off devices and watch the food they eat. This way you and your toddlers will be well on your way to the ‘Terrific Two’s’ instead of the ‘terrible’ ones.

Author of this article:
Leanne Allen (BA Psych) is the principle psychologist at Reconnect Psychology and Coaching Services ( She has trained in Sandplay Therapy, NLP and CBT and as a life coach. Her approach is to look forward whilst releasing the trauma of the past.  In the next issue, Carmel O’Connel from Reconnect Psychology will discuss Parenting Toddlers in more detail. If there’s something you would like to know about, please feel free to leave a comment on their Facebook page: 

This article was taken from Issue 1 of our magazine. For more articles like this, please subscribe to the Great Health Guide magazine – (subscription FREE for limited time only)
iTunesor Androidstore



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