There’s No Parenting Advice That Will Make The Toddler Years Easier

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As a writer for a parenting site, I read various parenting advice articles pretty much all day long. Some of it is better than others, but honestly I don’t think any of it applies to toddlers. Unless someone is giving you advice about how to appropriately wear a toddler out so they have no choice but to collapse into bed out of exhaustion at the end of the day – take any of this advice with a grain of salt.

A few weeks ago I wrote about a study that said toddlers respond to nouns more than verbs. When I read the sentence that I just typed aloud, all I can do is roll my eyes. It basically said that kids were more prone to help when they viewed themselves as active participants in the task i.e. referring to a child as a “helper” will make them help more often than just asking them for “help.”

For the next couple weeks after I read the study, instead of saying “Come help mommy clean up your toys,” I would try to take the different approach. Here is how it went:

Honey, do you want to be a helper and help mommy clean up your toys?


Every time he did something good I would try to reward his behavior by saying, “Thank you! You are such a good helper!” He didn’t care. Every single time I’ve tried the rephrase in the past few weeks he sees right through it. He doesn’t want to be a “helper.”

Today I read a post that advised parents to “Stop telling kids ‘do what you’re told!'” That was a huge buzzkill, because my three-year-old has recently entered the why? phase, and I have begun to use the because I’m you’re mother, that’s why! retort that I have been dying to use since he was born. Apparently I’m not supposed to do that. The post made several points about children and how you should deal with them. Spoiler alert: I’m failing.

  • VIEW your child as a whole, competent human — even in infancy. Talk to them with respect and treat them with dignity.

This is the advice that moms you hear say things like, “mommy doesn’t like it when you hit her” take. I tried. It doesn’t work.

  • CONNECT with them authentically on a daily basis. Children cannot survive on their own and they know it, so even a little disconnection from a parent can feel like a threatening emergency which fuels “bad” behavior.

So I guess sticking him in his room amongst his toys and allowing him to play alone for as long as humanly possible is bad? Too bad. Still doing it.

  • REFLECT feelings to a child while intervening to STOP unsafe behavior. Say: “I can’t let you hit your sister, even when you feel really mad.”

So I guess saying things like, I CAN NOT WAIT UNTIL SHE IS OLD ENOUGH TO HIT YOU BACK is wrong? Asking for a friend.

  • TEACH through example. Humans are social creatures and children will eventually follow your example most of the time (Ironically, even if you don’t want them too!).

So I guess occasionally yelling, YOU ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY, KID is probably not good, right?

I think this is all really sound advice – I just don’t think my toddler cares. I am going to make an earnest effort to be more like this type of parent though – because they are better than me in every way. I mean that with zero sarcasm.

(photo: Vitalinka/ Shutterstock)