When you are picking mac & cheese up off the carpet (who puts carpeting in a dining room anyway?) with your toddler crying in his chair because you yelled at him not to throw his food on the floor, what is running through your head? After the anger and irritation fade, is it something like “I am a bad mom. I shouldn’t have yelled”? Don’t worry. I yell too. But you are not a bad mom. Because if you were, you wouldn’t think that. But it can’t hurt to make toddler mom life a little easier right? So here are 4 tips on how to be a good mom to a toddler!
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Simple Ways to Be a Good Mom to a Toddler
Before I share a few tips to help you be a good mom to a toddler, I want to make sure we are on the same page as to what a good mom is. Because I didn’t say perfect, I said good.
What are the qualities of a good mom?
I’m sure that if we sat together we could probably go on for hours about all the qualities of a good mom. But the ones that come to mind first, and that I think will give you a good place to start include:
When you put all of these qualities together, you can truly be a good mom. But having one of these qualities does not mean that you use it right every single time. Everyone makes mistakes, and you need to allow yourself to express these things inwardly just like you would with a toddler. The biggest one being, forgiveness.
If you yell at your toddler because you had a rough day today and you are out of patience, forgive yourself. Your toddler will forgive you even if she doesn’t understand yet. So move on and strive to do better next time.
That said, let’s move on to some simple tips to help you be a better mom to a toddler! Cause, trust me I know, it isn’t always easy!
1. Have a consistent routine
Think about something. If you have something come up and you don’t eat lunch, how do you feel by about 4:00pm? I am usually pretty unhappy. As well as tired and probably pretty irritable.
So how do you think your toddler feels if lunch is an hour late? What would he be doing right now on a normal day if it is an hour past lunch time? Mine would be napping. So now, not only is he hungry but he is tired. And that usually means lots of screaming and tears. Don’t even get me started with my daughter, she does NOT do well with missing food..
The point? Your routine is important.
Things happen, sometimes you will go out and be longer than expected or go on a day trip so everything is different. And that is fine. But when you do, expect that your toddler is going to need you to be understanding. Because they didn’t change the plan. You did. And they just had to come along for the ride.
My best quick tip for this one is if something is going to be different, try to make it as regular as possible. That often means bringing a snack with you. Or allowing them to sleep in the car on the way home.
Routine is important for kids because they know what is expected of them and what to expect next. They thrive off that. Toddlers are learning and watching everything. And they like to know what’s next so they can do it themselves.
Do what you can to keep their schedule the same day to day. And expect a change int he routine to throw them off a little.
2. Redirect unwanted behavior
Kids, especially toddlers, push boundaries. They will do something you tell them not to because they want to know what you are going to do about it.
A great way to be a good mom to a toddler is to allow them the ability to make decisions. Tell them, in simple terms, what their choices are.
“You can keep your boots on but you have to stay off the furniture. If you want to sit on the couch, then take your boots off.”
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have said this to my son. Usually, he kicks his boots off and climbs up with no issue. Then when he gets down he will put them back on. Yes, he is obsessed with his boots LOL.
But when we first got the boots, it was a major battle. Because we would simply say “no boots on the furniture” and he didn’t know what to do about it. Because he wanted to get on the couch. And he wanted to wear his boots. So he would climb up, boots and all. Then we would either pick him up and put him on the floor which would result in screaming and throwing his body across the floor. Or we would remove his boots. Do you know what that would do? You guessed it! Screaming on the floor.
But by realizing that he just didn’t understand how to resolve “no boots on the furniture” and gave him 2 options that would fix it, we almost never have an issue anymore! And most of the time, he just takes them off before he even climbs up.
It’s actually pretty cute. He sets them up all nice right next to each other near where he is sitting so they are ready for him when he gets down… anyway.
Redirect the unwanted behavior by giving them a choice. The choice may involve a potential consequence depending on what the behavior is. But only you will know what options are appropriate for that moment and that toddler.
3. Breathe before you respond
This is something that has been really helpful for me attempting to reach my own goal of being a good mom to a toddler. I’ll go straight into an example.
My 2.5-year-old got a canister of cocoa powder from the pantry while I was changing his sister’s diaper. In the time it took me to get rid of the diaper (maybe 15 seconds?) he had opened the can, and begun spooning it out in, not one, but three places on my living room carpet.
Before, I would have yelled at him to stop. And ask him why he always had to make a mess. I would have scooped him up and put him in time out and mumbled to myself about how it was yet another mess to clean up. He would have been sitting in time out screaming as loud as possible. He probably would have screamed right back at me when I first yelled at him to stop.
But instead, I closed my eyes for a moment and I took a breath. I could feel the anger bubbling up inside and I knew that I was not going to have an appropriate reaction. After a few seconds, I opened my eyes again. He was frozen, looking straight at my face trying to gauge my reaction.
In as calm a voice as I could, I told him to bring it to me. He jumped up and ran over with the opened canister. I took it from him, put the lid on and set it down. Then, I showed him the mess that he made. And he helped me get the vacuum to clean it up. I told him that he does not belong in the pantry and that I didn’t want him to take things without asking first.
Now, I know he is 2. So he will do it again. But there was no screaming or fits. And he has cleaned up 3 messes he has made on his own since then. So even though, to me, it felt like nothing happened due to his misbehavior, it clearly made an impact on him.
If you want to know how to be a better mom to a toddler, this is a great place to start. It was where I started and it has made the biggest impact.
4. Let your toddler play
Don’t get caught up in having the toys perfectly put away or being too loud. You want your toddler to have fun and learn. And they do that by playing.
Don’t get me wrong, I am constantly reminding my kids to use their “inside voices”. But toddlers roar and squeal in excitement. And I will never say no to those noises during playtime.
By making them be ashamed of their mess or always be quiet, you are going to make them shy away from playing. Instead, get down and play with them. Because they will only be this age once. And you don’t want to miss it thinking that it was just a big blur of cleaning and noise.
Do your Best to be a Good Mom to a Toddler
I know I’ve already said it. But I am going to say it one more time.
You are striving to be a good mom, not a perfect mom.
Because a perfect mom does not exist. A good mom looks different for every child. Every mom has the power to be a good mom.
And if you are here, reading this, you already are. Because you care about being a good mom just by reading this.
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