Navigating a little one’s transition from baby to toddler can be a doozy for first time moms and seasoned mothers alike! During the baby days each milestone is novel, exciting, and oh so adorable! Time flies then one day you realize your sweet baby is a totally different animal. Gone are the days of sentimentally marking milestone by milestone. No sir, your little one is in a whirlwind of development and it’s enough to make any parent’s head spin. Good bye baby and hello toddler!
I have to admit I find the toddler stage down. right. hard. As my second born, Little Girl, approached her first birthday I noticed myself desperately clinging to the baby stage and dreading her entrance into the toddler stage. Well friends, it’s happened. Little Girl is totally toddler! Being that this is my second rendezvous to Toddler Land I have an idea of what to expect with this transition. Rather than psyching myself out over the potential challenges or moping around Debbie Downer-style missing my innocent cuddly baby, I’m attempting to welcome the change… I am going, or at least try, to embrace the toddler stage.
I write this post preaching perspective and positive attitude to myself and other mamas with babes entering toddlerhood. There is a flip side to each development challenge. [Tweet “Rather than seeing the changes in your toddler as challenges, try to see them as opportunities.”] The toddler stage brings fresh opportunities to connect with your child in a new way, opportunities to learn about your child, and opportunities to grow yourself.
Challenges to Opportunities
The number one challenge a toddler faces is his or her lack of communication skills verses the desire to communicate. This dilemma often leaves both kiddo and parent FRUSTRATED! (Can you tell I’ve had a little experience with this one.) Squawking and tantrums regularly accompany communication frustrations. While tantrums are a normal part of the toddler experience, a tantrum over not being understood is different from a tantrum over not getting one’s way. The tricky part is being able to differentiate between the two. Luckily toddlers can understand much more than they can say. This is where challenge meets opportunity. As much as possible put words to your child’s attempts at communication using what you know about your child and context clues. “Thank you for bringing me a book. Would you like mommy to read this to you?” “I see you looking at mommy’s toast, would you like to try some?” While it may seem silly talking through your toddler’s attempts at communication, think about it, don’t you feel better when you’re heard and understood? Baby sign language helps you and your toddler bridge the communication gap. Additionally speaking back what you think your child is trying to say affirms his or her attempts at communication.
After months of waking up to the world and slowly discovering wonders like their hands and toes, it’s makes sense that toddlers are curious and get into EVERYTHING. Their mobility makes the world is their oyster and it’s a toddlers prerogative to explore, test, and retry. While this may be exciting for your kiddo, it’s enough to make a mama’s head spin. First thing you need to make sure your kiddo is safe. Look over your house and do some basic baby-proofing. Be sure to move all the chemicals out of reach and if you have a climber get some child-proofing locks. Speaking of climbers… anchor your dressers, bookshelves, tv stands, etc. Seriously, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Now that we have the safety box checked off, let’s turn this challenge into an opportunity. Use your toddler’s curiosity to develop some independent play. This can be as simple as showing them what happens when you drop a stuffed toy, or pat two toys together, or hide an item under a handkerchief and pick the handkerchief back up again. Tapping into your toddler’s natural curiosity also presents opportunities for quality time. Five minutes interacting with your toddler, exploring and playing together, will fill their love tank and probably yours as well!
I don’t know about you, but once toddlerhood hit my kiddos became more demanding. Now I’m not talking about physically demanding, newborns take the cake on that one. I’m talking about mentally and emotionally demanding. In the toddler stage my kids’ intensity and volume levels go up! Toddlers are definitely opinionated and they demand a lot of attention. I image the monologue in my toddler’s brain often goes something like this:
Behind these fits are new feelings and a budding personality. There is something about toddlerhood that puts the personality development into hyperdrive. For most kiddos a developing personality equals more preferences, which often equals more demands. This coupled with limited communication skills and zero impulse control is challenging. Honestly the opinionated and demanding aspect of toddler development is one that I have a hard time embracing the silver lining, but don’t despair friends! The flip side to toddlers’ demanding tendencies is that their emerging personality opens the door to understanding and enjoying what makes our kids, our kids. Seeing what makes your kid unique is one of the greatest joys of being a parent. The relational bonding that accompanies your kid’s personal and social development during toddlerhood is something to be cherished. Here are some more tips to help you through your toddler’s tyrannical moments.
- Toddlers also love to “help” so give them a “job” and include them in your daily tasks.
- Toddlers love to make choices so try to give them win / win options when possible.
- Toddlers are (depending on the kid) still distractible so the more you learn about their likes and dislikes the better equipped you are to redirect them.
Truth be told it is hard to say good bye to our sweet innocent babies and wrap a mama’s head around having a toddler. Hopefully looking at each challenge as an opportunity will help you navigate and even enjoy your little’s journey through toddlerhood. After all they’re only little once and that mantra will get you through the rough days and remind to treasure all the silly and sweet moments in between. Love on, friends!
Wife, work at home mom, and bassoonist, Laura Ankrum lives in Iowa City, Iowa. Prior to the arrival of her two children Laura taught elementary music and band in the Boston area. Now her home is her classroom and music studio. Laura is passionate about education, encouraging other moms, and eco-friendly living. She is the social media coordinator at Thirsties Inc.