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Somewhere around the time my son turned 9 months old, I started wondering how much longer I could consider him my baby. When would he become a toddler? Was it when he turned one? Was it when he started walking?


Both of those things surely play a role, but for me, toddlerhood started with my son’s first tantrum. It was abundantly clear that something had changed.

Everything had changed.

To be honest, it was pretty adorable at first, with him throwing his little body on the floor over something I had done, then immediately wanting snuggles. Still, a small part of me felt more than a little apprehensive, as so much of what we hear about the toddler phase is negative.

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Thank goodness I have some experience with toddlers as a Montessori teacher.

Here are the best tricks I’ve learned to make toddlerhood as peaceful as possible.

1. Find the motivation

While it may seem like your toddler’s goal is to make you crazy, he really has his own agenda, and it is all about independence. When your toddler is “behaving badly,” try to pause before reacting and look for the motive behind what he’s doing.

Is he climbing on the table again? Maybe he needs help finding a more appropriate gross motor activity.

Is he running away when it’s time to get dressed in the morning? Maybe he needs to be a more active participant in the process by choosing his clothes or putting his own arms through the sleeves.

Everything these little people do has a motive behind it and if we can figure it out, we can help them effectively meet their needs instead of getting angry.

2. Give choices

Toddlerhood is when children realize they can say no, and they’re generally not shy about it. Giving choices allows toddlers to express their opinions and feel some sense of control over their own lives, to avoid the unpleasant power struggles often associated with this developmental stage.

The trick is to offer limited choices (two or three works best) and to offer only acceptable choices. Asking your toddler, “Do you want to get dressed now?” is not a good way to offer choice unless you are really okay with her saying no. Instead try, “It’s time to get dressed. Do you want to start with a shirt or pants?”

3. Be silly

Try adding a little silliness into your interactions with your toddler.

Who doesn’t love that guy at the dinner party who makes a joke to cut the awkward silence? Humor releases tension and this is just as true for toddlers as it is for adults.

There’s no need to become a clown, performing for your child, but there’s also no reason not to make mundane tasks a little more fun. Does your child resist getting in the car? Try hopping or skipping or racing to the car. Does she hate brushing her teeth? Put on her favorite song and challenge her to brush for the whole thing.

4. Set boundaries

Toddlers are still very much trying to figure out how the world works. While they will push back against them, boundaries help young children feel safe. Consistent boundaries make your child’s world predictable. They also show him that you are in charge. While they want to be independent, toddlers need someone else to be in charge to feel safe and free to explore.

Boundaries are also essential for helping us give our best selves to our children. Setting boundaries means that it’s okay for me to ask my son to wait while I get a drink of water before I read his book for the fifth time. It means that it’s okay for me to tell him that we only eat at the table, instead of following him around and picking up a trail of cheerios.

5. Be consistent

While no one likes hearing “no,” staying consistent with rules and routines helps young children understand what’s expected of them, and makes things so much easier in the long run.

I know it is so tempting sometimes to let your toddler do something “just this once” when you’re tired and want nothing more than to avoid a battle. The thing is, though, if expectations aren’t consistent, children will keep testing them, trying to figure out how rules work and when they are enforced. Toddlers will accept rules much more quickly if you enforce them every. single. time.

6. Exude confidence

It is a natural thing to second guess ourselves as parents. The stakes seem so high when it comes to our children, and there are so many opinions out there on the “right” way to parent.

Children look to us as leaders and it’s important to appear confident. Think about what you want in your own boss or leader. Sure, we like our leaders to be kind and open and to listen to our opinions. But we also like them to be sure of themselves. How can we confidently follow someone who isn’t sure themselves of the right course of action?

Children need the same thing, a confident leader to guide them. When you make a request of your child, try to make if confidently, not apologetically, and they will be much more likely to follow you.

7. Encourage contribution

While the toddler years can be tough, they are also a wonderful time when children really want to be a part of the community. Part of this is contributing to the family.

Many toddlers love to help around the house. Try to find ways to let them help, even if it takes a little longer. Including your toddler in household chores not only starts good habits, it also allows her to feel like she is contributing, which is great for self-confidence. Allowing a child to contribute strengthens her identity as a helper.

8. Don’t try to fix it—be present and comfortable with big emotions

It’s more important to show young children that their feelings are okay than to distract them or try to save them from a hard moment. Our children can tell if we’re present and they can tell if we’re comfortable. Sometimes the best thing to do when a child is overwhelmed by emotion is simply to be there with him, available, but not taking over the situation.

This reassures our children that we love them no matter what and that their feelings are normal and totally okay.

Change is hard and few times in life include as much change as the toddler years. I hope these tips make it just a little bit easier and more fun for you and your toddler. You've got this.

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Is there anything cuter than adorable hairstyles on kids? We love when little ones look put together and a chic hairstyle is the icing on a cake.Mamas have upped their game and are delivering trendy, inspo-worthy looks beyond basic ponytails.

We get that creating no-fuss hairstyles (preferably ones that don't require toddlers sitting more than 10 minutes) isn't exactly stress-free and shelling out cash for a stylist isn't something we'll spring for. But we're all about easy styles that we can practically create with our eyes closed. Say hello to getting out the door faster! To be fair, there are a few here that are a tad complicated, so you'll want to screenshot them and share with your mama friend who is a master stylist.

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To help you nail the best kid hairstyles, we've compiled a list of 41 cool hairstyles for little ones from Instagram:

Pigtail buns

This classic style never gets old. If you're concerned about it being too light, loosen it up a bit by adding volume at the roots.






Criss-cross braids

Add a touch of style to a traditional braid.






Top knot

When rushing and don't have time, just throw up their hair in a top bun.



Side braided ponytail

After a few hours on the playground, braids tend to end up on the side of their heads, so why not create it into a style?



Cornrows

We're not going to front—cornrows are tough to create. But if you can get it, it's a style that will last weeks. Need help? Check out these YouTube videos.






Waterfall braids

To add a little more pizazz to a regular braid, braid hair on the side and loosen it a bit at the root.




Triple buns

A bun is probably the easier hairstyle a mama can create, but throw in a dash of style by adding two more bun. Create the look by securing buns from the top of the head to the nape of the neck.








Bun + bows

Add a bow for instant fun.









Lifestyle

When the Coronavirus (COVID-19) started making headlines in early 2020 the expert advice was simple: Don't panic.

This week the CDC warned that the outbreaks of the virus will very likely happen in the United States, but it's important to know that officials still don't want parents to panic, they just want us to be prepared.

"We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad," the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, told reporters during a news briefing Tuesday. "It's not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," Dr. Messonnier said.

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It is totally normal to read this and be concerned mama, but there are several things we need to unpack before we let our anxiety overwhelm us.

Here is what you need to know about the Coronavirus response in the United States:

Top doctors are preparing for this

As the virus has spread rapidly overseas America's top doctors have been monitoring the situation. In not quite two months' time 80,000 people have contracted the illness and fewer than 3,000 of those people have died.

In the U.S., 53 cases have been confirmed (most of those were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan or people who caught the virus while traveling overseas). There have only been two cases of person-to-person transmission on U.S. soil, according to the CDC.

The CDC has more than 1,000 professionals working on the response to this virus, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, epidemiologists, veterinarians, laboratorians, communicators, data scientists and modelers.

"CDC staff members are working with state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments and other public health authorities to assist with case identification, contact tracing, evaluation of persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19, and medical management of cases; and with academic partners to understand the virulence, risk for transmission, and other characteristics of this novel virus," the agency states on its website.

And while there have been delays in implementing Coronavirus testing measures in the Unites States, experts are working to resolve issues and make testing more efficient. As the New York Times reports, the health and human services secretary "told a Senate panel that federal and local health departments will need as many as 300 million masks for health care workers."

In other words, the experts in the United States are preparing to fight this virus and they want the American public to be prepared, too.

This could impact school, work and daily life

That's why the CDC is telling us to get ready, not to cause panic or anxiety but just to set the expectation that life could be disrupted by this virus. "Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools and everyday people to begin preparing," Dr. Messonnier said Tuesday.

She says schools may have to close or otherwise adjust to an outbreak and students may have to start doing tele-schooling online. She also wants businesses to start preparing to hold meetings remotely rather than in-person and to encourage telecommuting during any outbreak. Community activities like sports and church may also have to be canceled or modified.

As the New York Times reports, "Scientists don't know who is most susceptible to the new coronavirus. Children seem less likely to be infected. Middle-aged men seem to have been disproportionately infected, according to some studies."

This could be really disruptive for families

It is true that the scenario Messonnnier is outlining could be really disruptive for families. No one wants this to happen, but if it does have to happen it's a good thing we are getting the heads up.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare for possible interruptions to daily life:

  • Talk to your workplace about any plans it has for operations during an outbreak.
  • Speak to your child's school or childcare provider about how it plans to operate in a worst-case scenario.
  • Ask your doctor for an extra prescription of any medications your family needs, just in case an outbreak makes going to the pharmacy not possible.

Here's how to protect yourself + your family from the Coronavirus

The CDC does not recommend that we all go buy face masks. Face masks are only recommended for people "who show symptoms of COVID-19...[and] health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)."

Instead, here's what we can all do to avoid the illness, according to the CDC:

  • "Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe."

We know this is serious and kind of scary, mama. But please, don't panic. Know that pandemic experts are working to keep your family safe. According to the CDC, the "National Institutes of Health (NIH) and their collaborators are working on development of candidate vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19."

On Tuesday, President Trump said the coronavirus is "very well under control in our country" and "is going to go away." The health experts who work for the government are doing everything they can to prove the President right, but they do want the public to be ready in case it doesn't go away as fast as he (and all of us) would like.

News

For nine months, your mother was all you knew.

Before I held you in my arms, your mother held you and never let you go.

Before I sacrificed time for you, your mother gladly sacrificed her body.

Before I consoled you when you were upset, your mother consoled you with just the beat of her heart.

Before I comforted you when you were restless, your mother comforted you with just the sound of her voice.

Before I could do anything for you, your mother gave everything for you.

Your mother is the reason I hold you today.

Before you were even a twinkle in my eye, you were in your mother's heart. Your life, your safety, and your very existence depended on her. Something I'll never be able to repay.

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It will take a long time for you to understand the weight, the depth and the immeasurability of your mother's love for you. But someday, when you have children of your own, you will understand what I now see so clearly.

So, I'll hold you tight. But I'll hold your mother tighter because my love for you grows the more I understand the measure of a mother's love.


This essay was previously published here.
Life

What would bath time be without rubber duckies? Probably not as much fun—but also a whole lot cleaner, according to a study published in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes.

That's because it turns out those squeaky toys are far from squeaky clean thanks to “potentially pathogenic bacteria" in four out of the five bath toys examined by researchers.

For the study, Swiss and American researchers looked at the biofilm communities inside 19 bath toys collected from random households as well as six toys used in controlled clean or dirty water conditions. They found that all of the examined bath toys “had dense and slimy biofilm" on their inner surfaces. What's more, 56% of the real-use toys and all of the dirty-water toys had fungi build up. ?

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Although the researchers note exposure to bacteria and fungi may have some benefits, the strong existence of grime in bath toys is still concerning. They note, “Squeezing water with chunks of biofilm into their faces (which is not unexpected behavior for these users) may result in eye, ear, wound or even gastro-intestinal tract infections."

Besides tossing all your bath toys, what can parents do?

The researchers say more experimental work is needed. But, for starters, it doesn't hurt to remove water from the toys after usage or give them a good, regular dunk in boiling water. The researchers also said they would like to see more regulations on the polymeric materials used for many bath toys.

There is, however, one simple solution—it just comes at the cost of rubber duckie's squeak. “In fact, the easiest way to prevent children from being exposed to bath toy biofilms is to simply close the hole," the researchers say of toys like this water-tight duck. “But where is the fun in that?"

[A version of this post originally appeared April 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

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