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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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Caring for young children can be challenging enough on a perfectly normal day, but during an emergency those challenges are magnified. Natural disasters and emergencies—such as earthquakes, storms, fires, power outages, flooding or outbreaks that affect a wide community—obviously present a major operational challenge for childcare programs.

That's why childcare providers need to have preparedness plans for emergencies and natural disasters that are likely to occur in their communities. Be sure to discuss emergency planning with your day care, childcare program or after-school care provider.

Here are a few helpful questions to ask to make sure that your child's day care or childcare is ready for emergencies.

1. Does the parent handbook cover emergency planning? Is it up to date?

The parent handbook should serve as a guide for everything that takes place in a childcare program, from drop-off protocols to nap schedules, and it should also include information about the program's emergency plans, response, and recovery. As situations change or arise, the parent handbook should be updated accordingly.

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2. What is your communication plan for emergencies or disasters?

While 90% of childcare providers have written emergency response plans, only 70% have plans to communicate with family members during an emergency. Your provider should outline its plan of communication in its parent handbook.

3. Do you perform drills for disasters that are likely to occur in our area?

Ask whether your day care or childcare program has practiced its emergency response plans in a calm, safe environment—in other words, before it's necessary.

4. What is your evacuation plan?

In the rare event that an evacuation is necessary, it's important for providers to include up-to-date evacuation drills and protocols in the parent handbook. Caregivers, staff, parents and children should all know the designated meet-up point during a community evacuation.

5. Do you have a safe, designated evacuation spot in the event of a community evacuation?

Once staff and children calmly evacuate the building, there needs to be a safe shelter-in-place spot nearby. This location should be kid-friendly and have plenty of food, water and ways to keep young children occupied. The location should also be able to accommodate children with special needs and those with medical requirements.

6. What is your shelter-in-place plan?

During an emergency where parents are unable to access roads or public transportation, childcare programs need to have a shelter-in-place plan. Whether children stay at the facility or evacuate to a safe spot nearby, providers need to keep at least 72 hours worth of food, water, and medical supplies up to date. The program should also have parents write notes in advance letting children know that everything is okay.

7. Do you have post-disaster plans?

According to FEMA, more than 40% of businesses do not reopen after a disaster. If childcare programs close, parents cannot return to work and recovery cannot begin. Also, young children need a safe, secure, and familiar place to return to after a disaster.

8. How do you discuss emergencies in an age-appropriate manner with children?

A great way for care providers to introduce the concept of emergency plans to children is to have them help create emergency kits. This way children become familiar with emergency response items. Teachers should also let parents know how they plan to talk to children about emergencies in advance.

9. What are your policies for closing?

Childcare providers must give advance warning to parents about closures if there is an impending weather emergency. If roadways near the childcare program are typically out of use during an emergency, both parents and staff need to map out secondary pick-up plans in advance.

10. Are you in touch with local preparedness organizations?

Local emergency organizations can provide advice and tips to prepare for an emergency or natural disaster. Parents, care providers and community organizations should meet regularly and have the most recent copies of the parent handbook.

According to FEMA, in 2019 alone, there were 59 declared disasters in the U.S. These emergencies include earthquakes, tropical storms, fires, floods, severe storms, tornadoes, landslides, mudslides, extreme wind, and snowstorms. But basic advance preparation can go a long way toward helping parents and caregivers feel ready for emergencies and disasters, and can ensure that families and care providers stay safe.

A version of this post was originally published at the Institute for Childhood Preparedness

Learn + Play

The transition to motherhood is tough, and you deserve a little love! Join us March 28th for Motherly's Becoming Mama event in NYC for a day filled with conversations and connections that will leave you feeling inspired. Get advice from expert panels, indulge in a little pampering, and meet other local mamas IRL for a day of empowerment and support.


Register now for early-bird pricing, and access to limited VIP tickets with exclusive gift bags.

Here's what you can expect:

  • A mindful mama meditation to start your day.
  • Interactive panels and workshops focused on the hottest topics for new moms and moms-to-be. Check them out below!
  • A healthy lunch + delicious snacks
  • Pregnancy + postpartum pampering
  • Personalized gifts for you + your baby
  • The chance to test the hottest baby gear on the market
  • A swag bag filled with surprises
  • Amazing giveaways from our brand partners

Sat, March 28, 2020
10 am-2:30 pm
SECOND.
849 6th Ave
New York, NY 10001

REGISTER NOW

Here's what we'll be talking about on our panels:

Navigating the Fourth Trimester: Self-Care for Mom
While having a baby is a joyous occasion it often involves mom putting her own health on hold and speeding into overdrive to care for baby. Here postpartum experts will discuss the importance of postpartum mental wellness, and the importance of asking for help and finding support.

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The Motherhood Advantage sponsored by Medela
Motherhood brings so many advantages to the workplace, and yet, it's still a topic often talked about in hushed voices. We'll invite Medela to sponsor this very important panel that will evolve this working mom conversation. Together we can work to erase the Motherhood Penalty, support moms with the proper tools and lift each other up in the workplace.

Parenting in Partnership: Learning to Share the Load
There's never been a more equitable time to be a parent, and yet so many mothers still feel like they're carrying more than their fair share. Let's talk about how to create a parenting team from the start, with tips, tricks and expert advice on leveling the playing field between parenting partners.

*While many of Motherly's events are family focused, there will not be specific activities or play spaces for babies or kids. This event is more mom-focused. Babies under 1 are welcome at this event, but a baby carrier is suggested. Please use your discretion.

Thank you to our sponsors buybuy Baby and Medela.

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When I think about Meghan Markle, her effortless style is usually one of the the first things that comes to mind. Whether she's traveling, taking her dogs for a walk, or attending a royal event, her outfits always look timeless and put together. Yet somehow she still manages to wear outfits that feel way more accessible (even when she is donning a gorgeous—but expensive—coat we've had in our cart for much longer than we care to admit).

While I can't quite afford a personal stylist yet or drop a few thousand on a bag, I did do a little digging and found that a few of her wardrobe staples are items that I can add to my closet, with a little investment. And, if you're not in the market to invest this much, don't worry—I found dupes that will do the trick!

Here are our favorite products to achieve Meghan Markle's classic mom style:

Meghan's pick: Rothy's flats

rothys flat

Confession: I own a lot of shoes. But I wear my Rothy's at least once a week and they're the first shoe I toss into my luggage when I'm traveling because they're so comfortable and can be machine-washed. The Point is my (and apparently Meghan Markle's) favorite style because it elongates the legs and goes with literally anything you wear. I love that they're made from recycled plastic water bottles, too. And, they just launched the Mary Jane—it has a bow!—if you prefer a more dainty look with a fun twist.

$145

Our dupe: ASOS ballet flats

asos black pointed toe

This pointed pair will give a similar elongated look at just $23. They come in half sizes and if you're unsure which size is best, ASOS offers a sizing recommendation. The material isn't machine-washable (like our prized Rothy's) but you can wipe these clean with a damp cloth to keep them looking like new.

$23

Meghan's pick: Wool wrap jacket

meghan markle wool coat

There's just something so elegant about this coat. Maybe it's the wrap waist that flatters any body type. Or, it's the way the collared neck drapes (seriously it'll even make wearing pajamas look chic). It's become one of the most recognized pieces from Meghan's wardrobe and we are obsessed.

$750

Our dupe: Tahari wool blend coat

tahari wool blend cape coat

Looking for something more affordable? This coat is marked down to $83 from $360 at Nordstrom Rack. While we haven't personally tried it, at 77% off, we can bet the quality is pretty up to par with a higher-end jacket. Plus, we're obsessed with the pale blue and port wine colorways. The removable waist tie belt and shoulder cape overlay will have you feeling like Meghan Markle in just about anything.

Bonus: We love this Amazon dupe that's just under $80.

$82.48

Meghan's pick: Longchamp bag

longchamp bag

On the quest for a bag that holds just about everything you need (without having to be a diaper bag)? Say hello to the Longchamp 'Le Pliage' tote. It's water-resistant, has durable leather straps and folds up into a square for each storage or packing. I've had mine for more than five years and it's still going strong—and it's schlepped a lot of heavy things over the years. Plus, it just looks nice with everything!

$125

Our dupe: Amazon shoulder bag

longchamp knock off bag

This dupe on Amazon has 59 great reviews and the large size is under $30! With three sizes, you can pick whatever best fits your style. Each bag comes with a zippered main compartment and interior pockets and yes, it even folds up just like the real thing.

$27.99

Meghan's pick: Birdies slippers

birdies slippers

Are they house slippers or the most comfortable flats you've owned? Spoiler alert: They're both. Meghan has been spotted wearing The Heron style (I've been spotted wearing the slides around my apartment all day) many times and we think the velvet detail dresses up just about anything, even leggings. The no-slip rubber sole and 7-layer support means you can run around in these all day long without missing a beat.

$95

Our dupe: Chase & Chloe pointy loafer

pointy toe loafer

While you won't experience the cloud-like softness of Birdies, you can achieve a similar look with this pair from Nordstrom Rack for under $20. Both black and tan pairs come with a padded footbed, grip sole and a flexible construction (so hopefully no blisters even from day one).

$19.97

Meghan's pick: Madewell denim jacket

madewell denim jacket

I didn't own a denim jacket until last year and since then, I've worn it in just about every season. Over summer dresses, paired with a T-shirt, over a blouse, you name it. It add just enough extra warmth without having to put on something bulky and is machine-washable. For an extra-cool and Meghan Markle factor, roughly roll up the sleeves twice.

$118

Our dupe: Old Navy denim jacket

old navy denim jacket

Grab this $30 distressed denim look at Old Navy. I'm not sure how they do it, but their denim jackets are *so* soft. This one is slightly fitted so size up if you're looking for a more oversized look. Just like the Madewell one, this hits right below the waist, making it great to pair with pants or dresses.

$35

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