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Survival Tips for the Toddler Years

If you are a new parent, most of what you have heard about the year or two immediately following infancy is probably negative. You hear about the terrible twos, temper tantrums, disobedient children who get into everything, and the like. But while there are certainly some gigantic challenges to raising a toddler, this period becomes a lot easier if you know what to expect and if you go into it with an awareness of how you can mitigate your toddler’s most difficult behaviors. If you take it from the experts, here are some of the most important tips you will need to know.

1. Make time (and a place) for playtime: Before your child could crawl, you probably made an effort to give her a half an hour to an hour of tummy time every day, and after she could crawl you likely gave her a decent chunk of supervised playtime during the day. But now that your child is older, playtime must be a way of life. In an ideal scenario, your child will have several hours a day of more or less free playtime. This is not just fun, but it is also when your child learns about the world using all the senses. So give her plenty of opportunity to play freely in all sorts of safe environments.

2. Get comfortable around other kids: While a toddler is less and less a baby and more an actual kid, there are some important elements of kid-ness that take a while to develop. For one thing, children under a year and a half to two years of age are typically very halting in their social interactions, if they are interested in being social at all. Still, even before your child is ready to make real friendships, it is a good idea to get him out among other kids so that he will be at least somewhat comfortable around others when the social skills begin to develop.

3. Just talk: If you read many parenting advice articles and books, you will come across all sorts of tips for helping your toddler develop language skills behind the first few words. While many of these tips are useful, there is one overarching piece of advice that is almost infallible: Just talk to your child. You do not have to talk constantly, but just pretend your child understands what you are saying (and she likely does understand more than you realize) and talk to her like a real person. As long as you do this, speech will come sooner or later—and there is no rush.

4. Do not rush potty training: You might be eager to set the diaper aside for good (or at least until you have your next one), but trying to potty train will be a waste of time until your child is ready. Before your child understands most of your speech, is able to follow orders, and has good bladder and bowel control, there is no point in trying to force it.

5. Consistency and structure: Though toddlers benefit from experiencing new things as often as possible, these new experiences should come within a life that is more or less predictable and well structured. Children thrive when they know what to expect from the world, when there are routines each day, and when the people around them behave in a consistent way. There is nothing wrong with deviating from the routine from time to time, but try to make it so that a typical day in your household is comfortingly predictable.

By Lisa Pecos

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