Updated February 16, 2021
Today we are sharing 10 toddler parenting tips. We learned these tips while raising our toddlers.
As a former early childhood educator, I know and understand that managing toddler behavior can be very frustrating for many parents.
A two-year-old can go from being a happy and loving toddler to a screaming, angry, red-faced toddler in a matter of seconds.
Toddlers can become easily frustrated and may not have the verbal or emotional skills to appropriately express themselves.
They want to be heard and are constantly testing their boundaries.
This is part of normal childhood development and is not always easy for parents to manage.
If you are struggling with understanding and managing your toddler’s behavior, be gentle with yourself.
You are not alone and there are steps you can take
10 Proven Toddler Parenting Tips:
1. Toddlers need consistent rules, expectations, and consequences.
How many times do you hear the word consistency when dealing with toddler parenting tips? Toddlers need consistency.
They need rules and need to understand the age-appropriate consequences of their actions.
As a parent, always think about how you communicate with your child.
You want to correct your child’s bad behavior but you don’t want your child to feel their behavior defines them.
Here is an example of what is meant by not having their behavior define them:
It is better to tell your toddler: “We color on paper, not on the walls” to correct a behavioral problem.
Give them paper and the crayons so they learn what you want them to do.
Saying something such as: ‘You are such a brat for coloring on the walls”, will only be damaging and doesn’t show them what you want and expect them to do.
Make corrections about an action that is unacceptable but do not make negative comments about your child’s actions.
We all get upset and say things in anger. Choose your words carefully. Be kind, but firm.
It should never be about punishment. It should be about encouraging the behavior you want from your toddler.
Discipline should be age-appropriate and focused on being compassionate at all times.
When possible, let a situation work itself out. Your child has to learn that there are limits and consequences.
2. Be consistent about daily routines and bedtime
Establishing a routine with your toddler almost always will result in fewer behavioral problems. It will also make your life much easier.
Routines and consistent expectations stay with us throughout our lives.
Knowing what to expect makes your toddler feel safe and secure.
Establish consistent times for meals, baths and read-aloud time.
If you do bath time around 7:00 PM every night, you can tell your toddler at 6:50 PM “You can watch Paw Patrol for 10 more minutes then it is bath time at 7.” It is predictable, focuses on the positive, allows your toddler to feel like they have some control.
Consistency reduces power struggles as your child learns to know what to expect. Inconsistency leaves your child feeling misunderstood and confused.
Having routines help parents maintain control and decrease stress.
A household that is stressful and not organized is more likely to lead to meltdowns and increased anxiety for all family members.
As parents, we are often less capable of knowing when our toddler is getting wound up.
We may react out of frustration from our own stress and make the situation 10 times worse.
3. Instill confidence and don’t do everything for your toddler
Let your toddler explore and perform projects independently as long as there is no danger.
Parents always want to help and make things easier. But easier is not always better, especially when your child is learning a new task or skill.
Even as adults, we are encouraged to do a project independently.
If we accomplish a task without assistance we feel proud of our accomplishment. That is what you want for your child.
If you want to instill confidence in your child, let your child try to figure something out first and the times they get it right or close enough, they will feel good about themselves and more confident about the next task they do.
Praise their effort and hard work.
The time to step in and help is when you see your toddler getting overly frustrated.
Toddlers often lack the ability to verbalize their feelings of frustration and becoming overly frustrated can lead to tantrums and meltdowns.
You want to find the right balance between assistance and allowing your toddler freedom to explore and learn.
4. Speak gently and avoid baby talk
The tone of your voice matters. What you say and how you say it, matters.
Speaking to your toddler calmly and gently models being respectful and in control of yourself to your child.
Your toddler learns how to interact with others by watching how you interact with others.
If you want your toddler to grow up to be respectful, kind and empathetic towards others, demonstrate this behavior whenever possible.
Yelling and harsh tones are ineffective in the long term.
There are times when you must be firm, but try to remain calm and speak softly.
Avoid baby talk with your toddler. Speak clearly and say exactly what you mean.
5. Be a good role model.
Parents often believe their child is too young to learn good behavior. As a result, they will be overly permissive of bad behavior.
Your toddler is able to read facial expressions, voice intonations and certainly violent physical activity.
So if you think your 2 or 3-year-old is too young to understand and mirror your actions, think again.
Always remember that you are your child’s number one role model.
They are always watching you and learning from you. This is an important toddler parenting tip to keep in mind.
6. Reward good behavior.
It is just as important to reward good behavior as it is to correct bad behavior. Focus on what your toddler is doing right.
Encourage and acknowledge good behavior.
Praise your toddler for making appropriate choices.
7. Avoid saying “NO” whenever possible
There will be many times when you will have to say “No” to your child. Try to limit the times you have to say no.
Look around the house and remove any items or temptations that are frequently causing you to have to say “No”, “Don’t Touch” or “Stay Away” etc..
Make your home environment, toddler-friendly and safe from dangers to reduce how often you have to say “No”.
There are enough toddler parenting tips that require intervention. Try to decrease the need for intervention whenever possible.
8. Watch the amount of screen time you allow.
Children learn about their surroundings in a hand’s on way. Research has demonstrated that sensory play promotes self-learning.
It also has a positive impact on the development of your child’s behavior and personality.
Technology is entertaining for toddlers, but should not be used in place of sensory activities and outdoor play.
Allowing your toddler some screen time while you make dinner or get work done is understandable. We are not anti-screen time.
We think it is important for even young children to become digitally proficient and aware, as that is going to be their adult world.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t need need to master fine motor skills and develop their ability to focus on a task for an extended period.
This Montessori screw board, hammer game, geoboard set is amazing! This is perfect for engaging your toddler in non-screen time play.
It is an Etsy bestseller for toddlers.
I love that it focuses on fine motor skills, problem-solving. encourages deep focus, and improves precision hand-eye coordination.
I recently read a book that is written for adults called Deep Work by Cal Newport.
In this book, the author talks about the lost skill of focus and how that impacts on our ability to go deep and stay focused on mentally demanding tasks.
The ability to block out distractions like email and social media and genuinely master complicated topics and apply them faster is what he calls a “superpower” in our 21 st century economy.
Cultivating that ability from an early age is going to give your toddler a leg up over their peers in the future.
Maybe you need to do some deep work and need to keep your toddler occupied, but you are looking for a quieter non-screen alternative.
This is one of my personal favorites for teaching toddlers about colors and sorting. It is another Etsy bestseller and gets great reviews.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation is that children ages 2-5 be allowed no more than one hour of screen time per day.
Toddlers 18-24 months are discouraged from any screen time, but if a parent chooses to introduce digital media, use it with the child and choose high-quality apps and programming.
Stop screen time an hour before bed and remove digital devices from the bedroom at bedtime.
Those are common-sense recommendations for parents of toddlers to follow and one of our most important toddler parenting tips.
A great way to limit screen time and keep your toddler occupied at home is by making simple DIY sensory bins.
I’ve written several posts about sensory bin ideas, but I think the best one to start with is 9 Easy DIY Sensory Bins For Toddlers.
In that post, I show you how to make sensory bins fillers like colored rice, sticky sand, edible moldable sand, colored sand, colored beans, and colored pasta.
I pair the fillers with different ideas for sensory play themes (insects, monster trucks, stamping, sandcastles, and many more ideas! You’ll also find links in that post to my other posts on seasonal sensory bin ideas.
Toddlers Need Outdoor Playtime Every Day (Weather Permitting)
No list of tips on parenting through the toddler years would be complete without talking about toddlers and their need for daily exercise and outdoor play.
Many toddler behavior issues can be cured by getting them outdoors for a good hour 1-2 times per day.
9. Consider a minimalist bedroom design
We are often told that sensory stimulation is important during early childhood development.
Though this is true, it is also important that your child’s bedroom environment promotes rest and relaxation.
Even as adults we are often told how important it is to design a bedroom that is tranquil and conducive to mental clarity and focus.
A toddler’s brain experiences a tremendous amount of mental activity throughout the day.
Transitioning your toddler”s brain to a peaceful state to prepare for sleep can be a challenge.
Having a bedroom that is serene and without distractions is one of our most important toddler parenting tips.
When putting your toddler to bed, a tranquil bedroom environment is essential. If your child’s bedroom is peaceful your child will start to associate his or her bedroom with relaxation and sleep.
A minimalist design doesn’t have to mean drab. You can use bright colors. The idea is to limit the amount of “stuff” in the room that could interfere with sleep.
There are now many ways you can design your toddler’s bedroom. Themed bedrooms are now extremely popular. A lot of creativity goes into the design of these bedrooms.
How stimulating you want to make your toddler’s bedroom is an individual decision.
Parents are often torn between creating a bedroom like the one they never had (sportscar beds etc.) or a bedroom that is solely for sleeping and less like a playroom.
Depending on how your child reacts to audio and visual stimuli will determine how you design their bedroom. You may want to design a bedroom that is conducive to sleeping.
The following items are simple bedroom furnishings that can be used to create a minimalist style bedroom.
Getting your toddler to go to sleep can be a time-consuming process. It can take an hour just to get your toddler to want to go to sleep.
Create a calm bedroom environment by reducing both audio and visual stimulation.
Toddler parenting tips that are applied early and consistently will prevent bad habits. When your child misbehaves, respond promptly or you may lose the best opportunity to impact an unwanted behavior.
We wrote an article on 8 proven methods to get your toddlers to sleep.
In that post, we explain the most common reasons your toddler isn’t sleeping (some of them were surprising to us, as adults we forget that toddlers see the world very differently than we do) and then we give 8 proven strategies to help your toddler get to sleep.
10. Always respond with empathy and affection.
Model empathy, compassion and give genuine affection to your toddler.
That is how you raise a child that grows up possessing and using those skills when interacting with the world around them.
When you are implementing toddler parenting tips into your daily routine, manage your child’s feelings with empathy and affection.
If your toddler needs to change a particular behavior, it will happen but will require time. Ignore tantrums whenever possible.
Don’t react to tantrums with anger. Stay calm and loving and if you are in a public place, you may have to leave so your child learns that tantrums are associated with the need to go home.
Tantrums are not about you and are not a reflection of your parenting skills.
Tantrums are how toddlers deal with frustration. since they have not developed coping skills. What is important is that your toddler feels safe and understood.
Always balance discipline with empathy.
Tantrums are going to happen since they are a normal part of toddler development. Try to respond to tantrums with age-appropriate consequences.
Practice empathy so your toddler will make positive behavioral changes.
Your toddler wants to behave. Help them navigate the rough waters of the toddler years by modeling the behavior and coping skills you want your toddler to learn.
Try to make positive choices available and acknowledge their choices.
It has always been said that we learn through our mistakes. When it comes to toddlers, truer words have never been spoken.
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