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Being a parent is not easy. Trying to stay calm while your toddler is having a tantrum is even less so. I thought it might be useful / interesting if I shared a day of parenting with me, including how I try to handle these situations that arise almost every day in our case.
Quick disclaimer before we get into the post:
Please take all of these with a grain of salt, all children are different, as are parents. My main point here is just to spread some positivity in motherhood and try to share some techniques that you can give a go with your little ones. I am not the perfect mother, I have my bad days too and I do lose my patience sometimes as well. If you’re having a rough day as a mom and you’re reading this, please don’t feel bad at all – we’ve all been there. You got this, mama! 🙂
3 Things I Try to Keep in Mind
1. Focus on and praise the things they do right.
It might be tempting or easier to just point the things they do that we don’t approve of, which is fine. But I found that focusing on the things they do right is much more helpful. Most times they will do things to get your attention, so if they see that they get the most attention from you when they’re doing the “right” things, they will be more inclined to do those. I hope that makes sense.
2. Empathy is key.
Stay firm in your boundaries, even if they throw a tantrum, but be empathetic. They like to know you’re on their side, so try to show empathy towards their emotions, even though the thing that upsets them might seem so insignificant to you. It’s not insignificant to them!
What if you had a meltdown to a friend about something big and upsetting going on in your life, and they just said “oh, get over it, it’s not a big deal”. You would probably think they’re a huge a**hole. Kids need to know you’re on their side too. Read more below about how I try to apply this in different situations.
3. Pick your battles.
Some things are really not worth arguing about. If they throw a meltdown because they want different shoes than you think they should wear, just let it slide. Maybe only put on display the shoes that you find appropriate and let them choose between those.
A Day of Parenting
I tried to sum up a few situations that we face daily and how I try to parent throughout the day (try being the keyword). You can also see more details in the video below.
1. Take time to connect in the morning.
If I take time first thing after we get up and snuggle in bed or read a book or cook breakfast together, my toddler is then more likely to be content and play independently for a bit while I get ready or eat my breakfast. It’s also a nicer start to our day.
2. Eating breakfast.
My toddler is the pickiest eater I know (probably takes after his dad when he was a kid, haha), so meal times are always hit or miss. I try not to force any food on him. I just put a few options in front of him (making sure I include something I know he likes) and let him choose what he wants to eat.
I try to make meal times a positive time as much as I can, because I don’t want it to feel stressful. If he doesn’t eat much, I don’t offer snacks or anything like that yet, but I take the food I’ve prepared to the playground with me for example. And a lot of the times, he will eat more while we’re there.
Meal time is something I’m trying to be flexible with.
3. Getting dressed.
If my toddler refuses to get dressed in the morning, I usually only have to say “we need to get dressed before we can go to the park” and he’s more willing and eager to get ready. Or I will let him choose his outfit, presenting him with two choices. Making them feel in control is your best bet.
4. Not wanting to take the stroller.
This is what we’ve been struggling with lately, as he refused to take the stroller sometimes. My strategy here is also to give him options (this works so well). Where we live, we have a gate before you enter into the street, so I usually get the stroller and I let him walk up to the gate. But we don’t go past the gate until he gets in the stroller.
That’s the decision that I try to stick firmly to.
I give him two options and say something like “We’re going with the stroller now. You can either get up in the stroller yourself or I can put you there if you prefer.”
What I do is I give him a bit of time to process his emotions, because he obviously protests sometimes. But usually he will get up in the stroller in a couple of minutes by himself now. It’s all about making them feel in control.
5. Not wanting to hold my hand while crossing the street.
This is something I’m quite strict about as well, because it’s obviously dangerous. I also give him options and I tell him he can either hold my hand or I can carry him across the street. He usually has a tantrum and protests as well, but I stay firm and tell him I understand that he’s upset, but it’s what we have to do in order to be safe.
6. Sharing toys at the playground.
He didn’t want to share at all in the beginning, but now I feel like we’re making progress. I will try to make him empathize with other kids and I say “remember how happy you were when that boy shared his car with you? That’s how happy they will feel if you share yours too”.
And then when he does share, I praise a lot to make him see that it’s kind of him to do that. I feel like it’s all about practice with this.
My toddler hasn’t really tried to hit other kids yet, but he does that to me sometimes when he gets upset with me. I usually tell him something like “I can’t let you hit because it hurts me. Remember how it hurt you when you fell on your knees? That’s how much it will hurt me as well”.
Making them empathize and understand why they’re not allowed to do a certain thing is going to be more helpful than just telling them “no”.
8. Leaving the playground.
I give my toddler a heads up, saying we’re going to be leaving in a couple of minutes. It gives them a bit of time to prepare themselves, rather than just abruptly interrupting their play.
And then when it’s time to leave, I give him two options as well, he can either walk or I can carry him. Or if we’ve got the stroller, he can either climb in the stroller or I can put him there myself.
He still protests sometimes, but it’s been much easier than before. They understand so much more than we think.
Those are the positive parenting strategies that have been working really well with my toddler. Again, not every day is the same and we still have our rough moments too, but these do help a lot.
I hope you find some use in this! Have a wonderful day!