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Why saying 'yes' could be the key to disciplining your 2-year-old

It isn't easy to be a 2-year-old, compelled to touch, taste, and possess nearly everything in the environment, even when it isn't safe, respectful, or healthy to do so. Their impulsive nature also makes delayed gratification very difficult.

Fortunately, as the adult, you can give them appropriate outlets while keeping them safe from danger. Your child needs you to empathize with their current moods, give clear boundaries, model appropriate behaviors and intervene in ways that foster their developing independence rather than preventing it.

Here's how to do just that:

1. Say "yes"

How often do you restrict your child's activities or behaviors because they are unreasonable, irritating or disruptive? If you're not sure, get a piece of paper and make a checkmark every time your response is "No." If the checkmarks seem excessive by the end of the day, you may want to evaluate how you can say "Yes" instead.

Many times, you may be able to provide a positive alternative by creating a new opportunity for action or redirecting to a different activity altogether.

For example, if your child grabs a fragile object and bangs it on the floor, instead of saying, "No," affirm your child's need for exercising the arm muscles, saying, "Banging is fun. Yes, you may bang. Let's find something that isn't breakable."

By saying "Yes" as often as possible, even to the things that are mildly irritating, our children will learn to trust that we are looking out for their best interests when we do set those limits.

2. Offer limited choices

Letting your child choose between two acceptable options can be an effective discipline technique. When you give them simple choices, such as whether to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt, you are empowering them to make decisions on their own.

Asking for someone's opinion is considerate and respectful. Just don't be surprised when they practice their decision-making skills by choosing their favorite, only to quickly reject it in favor of the other option.

However, having too much freedom will have the opposite effect, causing your child to feel stressed and insecure. If they are given an entire closet full of shirts to choose from, they may well toss them all out and play in them, unable to cognitively handle all of the complicated choices.

As much as they need to have some say in their life, they also need you to show that you are ultimately in control. This helps them to feel safe and protected as they explores decision-making and problem-solving. Do them a favor and pare down their options in advance.

3. Be consistent + follow through

Because they are learning social boundaries, it is your child's job to push to see if you will change your mind. They're not trying to manipulate you. They're really just trying to figure it all out.

Therefore, it is your job to make sure that when you establish a routine, you stick to it as much as possible. If they ask, and the answer is "No," there should be no waffling, whining or conceding. They need you to mean what you say and follow through with calm consistency.

Since no family will have the exact same routine or expectations for what is allowable, you will need to first decide what your limits are and also how you will enforce them. For example, if your general rule during mealtime is that food stays on the table, you will need to supervise your child closely during this time.

If your child tries to take the food elsewhere, it is your job to always respectfully intervene. You might respond with a simple choice by asking, "Do you want to eat some more or are you ready to wash your hands? When you stand up, that tells me you are finished. I will help you go wash your hands."

After your child makes the choice, you need to make sure you are not being pulled back into a game or battle of wills. Affirm that the choice has been made, acknowledge feelings, and stay true to your word.

4. Be playful + physical

Certainly there will be times when you need to have your serious "I mean business" face on when setting a limit, but remember that the more you bring joy into your parenting strategies, the more positive behaviors you will see. Toddlers need to feel your love and devotion through playful movement and physical affection.

There are so many fun ways to encourage compliance. When offering your child a piece of broccoli, why not sing a silly song about healthy vegetables? During a transition period where you need to get her peacefully from the playground to the car, why not play airplane one day and "fly" there instead of walking?

Is your little monkey jumping on the bed? Put a cushion or two on the floor and jump with them while chanting the rhyme. Facing a teeth-brushing battle? Perhaps they'd be happy to play along if you're brushing their "alligator teeth."

When all else fails, sometimes a romping chase around the house is just exactly the energetic emotional release that she needs. Give in to the temptation and embrace your silly side—even if just for a minute or two.

5. Remove your child from the situation

Toddlers may not be able to stop themselves from repeating an inappropriate behavior, even when redirected. Dangerous or hurtful behavior must be stopped immediately and prevented from happening again.

The best thing to do when you are in this situation may be to physically remove either the object from your child's view or your child from the situation entirely. Do not spend any extra time giving choices, wheedling or bargaining. Since a 2-year-old often will not willingly walk out of a tense situation, you will need to pick them up and carry them.

This technique is especially useful if you are in a public area, such as a grocery store, and your child is on the verge of a tantrum. Instead of handling the issue in front of an audience, you both might feel more comfortable addressing your emotions in a neutral zone, away from the place of conflict.

You can also use this technique on yourself. If you are feeling angry or out of control, and your child is already in a safe space under the supervision of another adult, you may find that removing yourself from the situation is helpful.

Note that removal should never be used to isolate or punish a child for misbehavior. What you are doing here is taking a break together so that you can resolve the problem and emotionally reconnect. Instead of giving your child a "time-out," which breeds resentful feelings and is rather meaningless to him, you are creating a safe place to work through the issue.

If your child has a tantrum after removal, he may be confused afterward about what happened. Make sure to acknowledge his feelings and express your love for him. When you are both calm and ready, you can go back and try again or you might suggest a different activity altogether.

Excerpt from Toddler Discipline for Every Age and Stage: Effective Strategies to Tame Tantrums, Overcome Challenges, and Help Your Child Grow, published by Rockridge Press. Copyright © 2018 by Aubrey Hargis.

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Rachel McAdams didn't talk publicly about her pregnancy or her birth story. There are some things this working mama wants to keep to herself, but the fact that she needs to pump at work isn't one of them.

McAdams was recently doing a photo shoot with photographer Claire Rothstein of Girls Girls Girls magazine when she needed to take a pump break. Wearing Versace and a neck full of diamonds McAdmans did what mamas all over the world do every day, and Rothstein snapped a pic that is now going viral.

In an Instagram post, Rothstein explains that she and McAdams had a "mutual appreciation disagreement about who's idea it was to take this picture," but the photographer says she remembers it being McAdams' idea, "which makes me love her even more."

In her caption of the amazing photograph, Rothstein writes: "Breastfeeding is the most normal thing in the world and I can't for the life of me imagine why or how it is ever frowned upon or scared of."

The photographer added that she wanted to put the image out there to change perceptions about breastfeeding, pumping, and working motherhood.

McAdams decision to normalize pumping through this glamorous image is especially cool when you consider that she's not really a social media person, and spends a lot of days in much less glam attire.

She recently arrived for her first interview since welcoming her son in the spring wearing a grey shirt, baggy pants and sneakers, reportedly telling the interviewer (Helena de Bertodano for The Sunday Times U.K.), "I don't even know what I'm wearing today. The shoes are held together with glue. Isn't that sad? I need to get a life."

"I have clothes on and that's a good thing," McAdams told Bertodano during that chat. Her attire for that newspaper interview was a world away from the clothes she wore for the Girls Girls Girls shoot.

During her Sunday Times interview McAdams declined to discuss her son's name or birthdate.

"I want to keep his life private, even if mine isn't," she explained. "But I'm having more fun being a mum than I've ever had. Everything about it is interesting and exciting and inspiring to me. Even the tough days — there's something delightful about them."

Most of us will never look the way McAdams does in this photo while we're pumping, but we can totally understand that sometimes, motherhood means you're wearing sweats and sometimes it means you're pumping in your work clothes (even if for most of us, that doesn't mean Versace).

McAdams may be keeping some parts of her motherhood experience private, but by showing the world this part of her day, she's normalizing something that desperately needs normalizing.

Some mamas pump, and the world needs to know (and accommodate) that.

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To my children,

It's the New Year, and I have been doing a lot of thinking. I want to say, with all of my heart and all of my soul, that I am sorry. I want apologize for anything (and everything) I have said or done that made you feel less-than or sad or small.

I regret, so deeply, the hurt I delivered through harsh words or sideways glances, for steely eyes you didn't deserve and sarcastic replies you didn't understand. I'm sorry for being upset when I should have been more understanding, for resorting to frustration when I should have found more patience, for pulling away when I should have drawn near.

There were the times when you needed more from me, when you asked for more, and I simply couldn't provide. There were the moments when you wanted less of me, needed less from me, and I couldn't—or perhaps I just wouldn't—back away.

I start every day with a hope, a hope that I will be better than the day before.

Sometimes I succeed, but many times, I fail. Every so often, I fail in spectacular fashion. I think about all the times when I wasn't gentle enough or kind enough or attentive enough to you, about all the moments when I was too quick to anger and not quick enough to forgive.

You don't need me to tell you that I'm not perfect. Lord knows, you know far too well.

But I will say it to you, because I think it helps to hear me say it: I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I am human. I have flaws and cracks and blemishes; they are a part of me, just as they are a part of you.

Sometimes, my dear ones, my mistakes are small—like forgetting to pack your lunch or mixing up the dates for Tot Shabbat, or picking you up an hour late from a play date or accidentally switching your piano primer with your brother's, or sending a snack I know you dislike because I didn't have time to go grocery shopping and have no other food in the refrigerator. But sometimes, they aren't so minor.

Sometimes, my mistakes have to do with the way I've behaved, and the words I have said, and the way I have said them. For those times, and for all the times I failed to support you the way I should, or help you in the way you deserve, and love you in the best way I can, I am sorry.

I wish I didn't make so many mistakes. I'm a perfectionist at heart, but when it comes to parenting, there's still so much I haven't mastered. Even after almost a decade of doing this day in and day out, I still feel like a novice in so many regards and as green as I did on day one.

Precious ones, I've come to realize, no matter how hard I try, that I just can't get it right all of the time. I hope you can forgive my failings.

The older I get, the more I realize that life is a jumble of hits and misses. As many times as we try and succeed, we also try and fail. As much as we hope to do right, we often end up doing wrong. It is the story of the human condition—this mix of losses and gains, triumphs and defeats. It's all very messy (think sloppy joes and pancakes dripping with syrup kind of messy), and yet, it's all we know.

My darling ones, I want nothing more than to do right by you and be the best mother I can be for you. I want to love you unconditionally, support you unreservedly, and be present unambiguously.

In the New Year, I resolve to do better for you, to be better with you, and to act as if God is watching. You mean the world to me. You are everything to me. I love you, always and forever.

All my love,

Mommy


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People often say that having a second child doesn't much add to the workload of parenting. There's no steep learning curve: You already know how to make a bottle, install a car seat and when to call the pediatrician. And you're already doing laundry, making lunches and supervising bath time—so throwing a second kid in the tub isn't a big deal.

Except that it is. Having a second child doesn't just mean attaching a second seat to your stroller. Adding a whole new person to your family is more complicated than that, and it's okay to say that it is hard.

A new study out of Australia disputes the popular idea that after making the transition from people to parents, making the jump from one child to two is easy. The researchers found that having a second child puts a lot of pressure on parents' time and their mental health, and mothers bear the brunt of the burden.

When looking at heterosexual couples, the researchers found that before a first child is born both partners feel equal amounts of "time pressure," but once the child is born, that pressure grows, more so for mothers than fathers.

Basically, parents feel psychological stress when they feel they don't have enough time to do all they need to. One baby makes both parents feel more stress, but mom's increase is more than dad's. When a second baby comes, that time pressure doubles for both parents, and since mom already had more than dad, there's now a gulf between them.

The researchers behind this study—Leah Ruppanner, Francisco Perales and Janeen Baxter—say that after a first child is born, a mother's mental health improves, but after a second child, it declines.

Writing for The Conversation, the trio explains:

"Second children intensify mothers' feelings of time pressure. We showed that if mothers did not have such intense time pressures following second children, their mental health would actually improve with motherhood. Fathers get a mental health boost with their first child, but also see their mental health decline with the second child. But, unlike mothers, fathers' mental health plateaus over time. Clearly, fathers aren't facing the same chronic time pressure as mothers over the long-term."

The researchers say that even when mothers reduce their work time, the time pressure is still there and that "mothers cannot shoulder the time demands of children alone."

Adding a second child to the family isn't just a matter of throwing a few more socks in the laundry: It means a schedule that is already stretched is now filling up with twice as many appointments, twice as many school functions. Mothers only have 24 hours in the day, and as much as we wish we could add a couple extra hours per child, we can't.

Time simply can't change to help us, but society can. As the researchers noted, when time pressure is removed, motherhood actually improves mental health.

We love our lives, we love our kids, we love parenting, but there is only so much of our day to go around.

Ruppanner, Perales and Baxter suggest that if society were to help mothers out more, our mental health (and therefore our children's wellbeing as well) would improve even after two or three kids. "Collectivising childcare – for example, through school buses, lunch programs and flexible work policies that allow fathers' involvement – may help improve maternal mental health," the researchers explain, adding that "it is in the national interest to reduce stressors so that mothers, children and families can thrive."

Whether you're talking about Australia or America, that last bit is so true, but this research proves that the myth about second-time parenthood isn't. Even if you already have the skills and the hand-me-downs, having a second child isn't as easy as it is sometimes made out to be.

We can love our children and our lives and still admit when things aren't easy.

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We know life gets a little (okay, a lot) busy around this time of year so if you haven't crossed off everyone on your Christmas list just yet, here's your reminder that you've still got time. Fortunately, that Amazon Prime membership of yours comes in handy... especially for the holidays.

Here are some of the best last-minute gifts to get on Amazon. Also, that extra couple of dollars for gift wrapping is *so* worth it if it's available. 😉

1. Tape Activity Book

So your little can create just about anywhere—on the go, in the car or hanging out at home.

Melissa & Doug Tape Activity Book, $6.47

BUY

2. Instant Pot

Mama, meet your new best friend. 4.5 stars with nearly 30K reviews.

Instant Pot 8-qt, $89.95

BUY

3. Silicone Teething Mitt

Offer relief to your teething one with a mitt that stays in place.

Itzy Ritzy Silicone Teething Mitt, $8.99

BUY

4. Roomba

Give the gift of never having to manually vacuum again.

iRobot Roomba 690, $279.00

BUY

5. Magnetic Tiles

These are always a favorite for kids of all ages. Build endless possibilities and work on fine motor skills—win-win!

Magnetic Tiles Building Blocks Set, $31.99

BUY

6. DryBar Triple Sec

Perfect addition to mama's stocking, or paired with a salon or blowout gift card. Adds *so* much texture and volume.

DryBar Triple Sec 3-in-1, $35.99

BUY

7. Plush Animated Bunny

Plays peek-a-boo and sings for baby.

Animated Plush Stuffed Animal, $32.97

BUY

8. 23andMe

Learn everything you want to know about your family history, where you came from, and even information about your genetics.

23andMe DNA Test, $67.99

BUY

9. Boon Bath Pipes

Make bath time more fun. They suction to the wall and can be played with individually or altogether in a chain.

Boon Building Bath Pipes, $14.99

BUY

10. HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer

For printing all of those adorable Instagram moments—and for getting *all* of the photos off your phone.

HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer, $99.95

BUY

11. Board Blocks

Kids can sort, learn colors and shapes, and work on their hand-eye coordination.

Wooden Educational Geometric Board Block, $6.39

BUY

12. Ring Doorbell + Echo Dot

A great bundle for the techie in your life.

Ring Doorbell 2 and Echo Dot, $169.00

BUY

13. Pai Technology Circuit Conductor

For the little who wants to learn to code, this offers endless learning fun.

Pai Technology Circuit Conductor Learning Kit, $69.99

BUY

14. Kindle Paperwhite, Audible + Headphones Bundle

Bookworms will love this bundle. Enjoy a new Kindle Paperwhite, wireless bluetooth stereo headphones, and 3 month free trial for Audible for new users.

Kindle Paperwhite Bundle, $139.00

BUY

15. Wooden Grocery Store

We love this imaginative play grocery store, complete with a beeping scanner and hand-cranked conveyor belt.

Melissa & Doug Freestanding Wooden Fresh Mart Grocery Store, $179.99

BUY

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work.We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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