As a daycare teacher, the Toddler Classes were my least and most liked ages to teach. Something about how the children’s minds work amazed me but I had and still have a difficult time helping them manage their emotions. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a parent dealing with and wondering how to handle the “terrible 2’s” with gentle parenting. Let me just say, throughout this post, we will not be calling it the “terrible 2’s” but more so referring to it as children learning to handle their feelings. I am going to give you 5 tips that have helped me to teach my son how to regulate and handle his own feelings. As adults, it is still difficult for us to do this so the number one rule for raising and teaching children is to have patience, respect, and love.
Keep a Routine
I wanted to make it clear that schedules and routines are completely different. A schedule sticks to the time and a routine makes sure that things follow one in behind the other. I try to keep things fairly the same. Dito wakes up (regardless of the time) and the first thing he does is give me a hug, and then brushes his teeth. This happens every single morning. The rest of the day is pretty much the same. Children thrive off of structure and routine!
Now, there are always going to be times where the routine is different, right? You go on a trip, you eat lunch at the park instead of at home, or anything else that is different from your normal routine. The best thing to do is talk them through what’s happening. For example, when we decide to go to the park in the afternoon instead of the morning, I simply tell Dito, “Hey buddy, we’re going to do something different today.” Then I give him a choice of how he wants to spend his morning instead of at the park. Here are five crafts that are sure to interest your child!
At this stage, children really want to be independent. They are watching our every move and seeing how we move about the world. Independence is their new found obsession and we should help them embrace it. For example, instead of telling Dito to “get off of the coffee table” (he likes to dance on it, I don’t know why), I simply ask him “Do you want to sit and get down or do you want Mommy to help you get down?” In doing this, I am getting what I need – which is to have him get off of the table – and he is getting the sense that he is in charge of his decisions. It’s a win win!
Give Practical Activities
Like I said before, our children are always watching us. Dito is really into wanting to help me clean. I know you have seen those little kitchens that are trending on TikTok. If you haven’t, here’s a video. Whatever you do at home, try to give your child a simpler version of that. Teach them to clean up their toys in their room, allow them to wash dishes with you or help you clean the fruit. Kids love to learn and they are always learning. By doing this, you are also helping them be independent at their speed. This also helps build your relationship!
Dito’s pediatrician promotes fresh air every single time he has a check-up and she’s right! Something about the fresh air tires Dito out enough to where he isn’t running around like Sonic. Toddlers have so much energy that they don’t know what to do with it so it’s up to us to help them use it. We go on walks every afternoon when we walk Wrigley. It is Dito’s favorite thing to do. The fresh air and exercise are not only good for their health, but also their mood. Dito loves going to the park. He just loves being able to run freely.
Allow Them to Do Dangerous Things Carefully
I want you to read that title again. It is exactly as it sounds: allow children to do dangerous things carefully. Circle back to the first point: children are yearning for independence. They want to learn, grow, and experience new things. I want to go back to the example of Dito on the coffee table. For the most part, we allow him to do it because he has learned the limits of what it means to be careful up there. Children are not born with fear. Therefore, they learn their limits from experience and what we teach them. Dito loves to climb the wall at the park to get up to the slide; he prefers it over the stairs. Instead of making him use the stairs because of my own fear, I assist him with what he wants to do. This helps me gain his trust, builds our relationship, and helps him learn the limits of his ability. When children are doing dangerous things carefully, we don’t stop them because of their fear, we stop them because of ours. Of course, if it is life-threatening, we stop it immediately, but most of the time, it’s not.
I hope this blog helped you out! These are the 5 tips that have helped me keep the tantrums at a minimum. It is impossible never to experience intense emotions because as toddlers, they are learning to regulate these emotions and that takes time. Remember to have patience in your mind and love in your heart.