Keep it positive

The secret to having happy kids is to love them no matter what. Praise them as much as you can as
they learn to be more independent and express their feelings.

The time between your toddler’s first and third birthdays can be the most fascinating of your life – and theirs. It can also be the most demanding! So it helps to take a practical, ‘positive parenting’ approach to the many challenges you’ll face as your child grows up.

Getting an action plan

See the world through their eyes

The world is an exciting place to your toddler, but it can also be confusing. The way they see things depends on their personality as well as on how far their brains have developed. You can help by making a real effort to see things from your child’s point of view as they get used to being more independent.

Lead the way

Kids learn by copying so show them love and affection, treat them – and others – with consideration, listen to their views and respect their feelings. And remember it’s no good telling them that hitting or shouting is not allowed if that’s what you do.

Lay down some ground rules

Children naturally want to please you but they need to know what you expect of them. Set clear, simple rules that they can understand. Ensure everyone caring for your child consistently follows these rules.

Think of their feelings

When your toddler misbehaves, it’s often because they don’t know any other way to deal with their feelings. You can help by letting them know that they’re allowed to show their emotions, and by giving them a name for their feelings so that they can express them. For example say, ‘It looks tome as if you’re upset/ happy/sad/cross/ frustrated.’ Don’t worry if you haven’t identified it correctly, they’ll soon put you right if need be.

Tell them when you're pleased

Your toddler wants your attention more than anything else. When you praise what they do, they’ll respond by doing it again and again. Explain what you mean. Say, ‘Thank you for putting your blocks away’ or, ‘I can see you’re really taking time over that painting’, rather than just a general ‘That’s a good boy/girl’.

Ignore minor naughtiness

Just as rewarding good behaviour with attention is the best way to get kidsto repeat it, ignoring things that you don’t want them to do can be a good way of stopping them. Any kind of attention – even a telling-off – can prolong bad habits and behaviour. Don’t overreact. Learn to turn a blind eye to minor sillinesses.

It’s not them, it’s what they do

Constant criticism creates bad feeling and it can lead to even more difficult behaviour, not less. Emphasise that it’s your child’s behaviour you’re unhappy about, not them. For example, say, ‘It’s upsetting when you hit your brother,’ rather than, ‘You’re bad/spoilt.’

Focus on solutions

Seeing tantrums, potty training, sleep and mealtimes as problems can make them seem impossible to solve. But by focusing on finding answers you can feel confident and more in control. The same goes for your tot; help them to put things right if they’ve behaved badly. For instance, say something like, ‘You hit Ross and now he’s upset. How can we sort it out?’

Stay in touch with your feelings

Being a parent can be a tough job and no one gets it right all the time. It helps to say sorry if you feel you’ve handled something badly. It shows you’re human and teaches children how to apologise. If you feel you’re on the brink of losing control, take yourself away from the situation for a while to calm down. Above all, count your successes.

You’re doing a great job!

It’s not your fault!

All parents sometimes feel as if they’ve reached the end of their tether. But what you see as ‘naughtiness’ is part and parcel of your tot’s urge to explore the world. It is wearing but they need your love and support as much as ever.

Last updated: 15 April 2019