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Vote #Hacked? Too Many Votes in 37% of Detroit's Precincts | Main | Tuesday Overnight Open Thread (12/13/16)
December 13, 2016

Parenting Toddlers: Life Advice For Morons By Morons [Warden]

For readers new to this ongoing series, I thought it would be fun to write a series of life advice posts as a way for the older Ace of Spades commenters to pass down some of their accumulated wisdom to the younger folks.

So far we've talked dating, marriage and babies. Today I want to hit young parents with a few tricks I've learned about dealing with toddlers. As always, this is a jumping off point for readers to add their own tips and advice in the comment section.

There's a sweet spot in your infant's development where things are actually pretty easy--it's somewhere between 5-8 months. It's during this period where your infant starts sleeping through the night and the need for diaper changes reduces dramatically.

Babies at this age are fun--they interact with you constantly and learn at an astounding rate. It's thrilling watching them scoot, then crawl, then walk.

If raising infants is a primarily a test of your stamina, toddlers are a test of your patience, and it starts with that first step. Once they're mobile, they get into everything and soon you'll start to fell like you'll never be allowed to sit for more than 5 minutes at a time outside of meals and bedtime.

So what do you do with this? Here are a few tips.

1. Don't tell your toddler what she can't do, tell her what she can do. Your kid is too young at this age to be disciplined or scolded. Redirection is the key to managing behavior and keeping her safe. Every time your toddler reaches for something she isn't supposed to have, redirect her to an acceptable alternative.

Is it exhausting? Yes. But it's your best alternative to age inappropriate scoldings. Be patient. Your kid will learn eventually.

2. Create a "special" drawer in the kitchen just for your toddler. Kids at this age are obsessed with opening drawers and doors and pulling everything out. A way to head off frustration is to select a drawer at toddler height and put all your kid's plastic cups, plates, cutler, etc... inside of it.

Every time your kid goes for the pots and pans say, "No thank you. That's mommy's. Here's (your kids's name) your special drawer. Let's see what's inside!

It may seem silly, but use that word, special. If you tell kids at this age (all the way up to teenage years, really) that something is "special" then that's exactly what it becomes.

It'll take a few weeks, but before long your toddler will stop getting into the other cabinets. It'll save you both frustration and the need for locks.

3. Teach your kid "one finger touching." This was a tip another parent gave to us, and boy was it a good one.

Most parents either scold their curious kids for touching fragile items around the house or they simply put everything breakable out of reach. Neither are good options. Kids are naturally curious; touching new things is part of their learning and developmental process. If you respond to this curiosity with discipline, you'll be repaid with temper tantrums and power struggles.

Putting everything up high seems like a reasonable and easy solution, but what happens when you go to the store or your neighbor's house? Now there are all kinds of new and interesting things within arm's reach of your child and you haven't taught him how to explore these things responsibly.

The solution is one finger touching. It's a two-step process. First, you teach your child to ask before touching things that don't belong to him. Second, you show him how to touch with one finger when something is fragile. You'll can do this by physically putting his finger on the item and explaining that it's a one finger touch object.

The technique works wonders. I can still remember other adults marveling at my 2 year old when he asked to look at a Christmas tree at the bank we were visiting one December. I told him, "Sure! Just one finger touching," as I waited for the teller. He walked 20 feet away from me and touched each ornament with one finger and came back without incident.

4. Give your kid as much choice as possible. When your toddler hits about 2 years old, the power struggles will begin. It's an unavoidable stage of development, but the tantrums and battles of will can be minimized by presenting your kid with the illusion of choice.

What does this mean? It means presenting a range of choices to your child that are acceptable to you. For example, "Would you like milk, water or juice to drink?" You've given your child a choice within parameters that you've set. This is a far better approach than dictating only one option or throwing out, "What do you want to drink?" and then saying no when the choice your kid makes is one you deem unacceptable.

The more you can train yourself to present options this way, the easier your life will be. Be creative. It works to varying degrees in all situations. For example, "Bedtime! Do you want to brush your teeth first or put on your jammies first?"

5. Speaking of bedtime, the best way to avoid fights over preparing for sleep is to give multiple time cues. This goes for anything schedule related. Toddlers hate to be interrupted from what they're doing with a surprise demand.

Instead of an abrupt command, prepare your kid for what's to come. For example say, "Bedtime is in 10 minutes," then give a 5 minute and a 1 minute cue. It will not only reduce tantrums, it'll help your child develop a sense of time.

6. Set expectations for your toddler. In my experience, one of the number one causes of tantrums is uncommunicated expections. For example, if you're going out to eat, tell your kids exactly and in detail what kind of behavior to expect and what the consequences will be for failing to meet these expectations.

7. The follow through to setting expectations is communicating a consequence and following through with it, no matter how unpleasant and inconvenient for you. Kids figure out pretty quickly whether or not you mean what you say. I can always tell the parents who threaten but never follow through--they're the ones with screaming at out of control, misbehaving kids.

Following through can suck, so never make a threat you aren't willing to carry out. My rule in public with my kids was, "I'll whip your ass anytime, anywhere. I don't embarrass and I don't care what anyone thinks. It''ll be you who will be embarrassed"

An ass whipping was an infrequent event, but my kids knew that if they escalated, then one would be coming. It was their choice, not mine. I was just the delivery system. And for the record, they never tested my threat in public. They knew I meant it.

8. Pick your battles. Your toddler is going to have a mind of his own sometimes. If it isn't going to hurt him or anyone else, then let it go. Oh, boy are there times I wished I had.

So, your kid doesn't want to put on her coat? Fine. Let him be cold. Bring the coat along in the car for when he's had enough. It's not worth a fight.

9. Enjoy this time to its fullest. The tantrum phase is incredibly trying, but kids are also absolute sweethearts at this age. When you're in the middle of a bad stretch, keep in mind that you'll come out of it eventually. Toddler behavior is cyclical. Sometimes you'll think you've cleared a hurdle, then they'll be some backsliding. Don't panic. It's normal. For every bad moment, a wonderful one is just around the corner.

10. Fuck it. I'm not into your arbitrary rules, man. You get nine.


10a. This isn't a tip. It's a warning. Your toddler will reveal all your secrets at home. Every. Last. One. Your preschool teacher will have more intel on you than the NSA. You'll be more exposed than Madonna on a comeback tour--all your bad habits, how much beer you drink, your bad language, and that time you lost your shit because your kid wouldn't stop banging on that goddamned drum set his stupid ass uncle bought him while you were trying to watch the Ohio State-Michigan game, as if a few hours of enjoying yourself without interruption is to much to fucking ask.

...perhaps I've said too much.

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posted by Open Blogger at 08:49 PM

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