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the challenges. Experience
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The toddler years can be challenging. But they don’t have to be this hard. Here, you’ll find practical, ready-for-action strategies to navigate toddlerhood.





(it's not as terrible as you think)

Terrible twos. Threenagers. Adorable dictators. The challenges of this stage have resulted in some colorful characterizations. But in reality, behaviors often labeled “bad” are actually a normal and important part of this critical developmental period.

If we understand this development, we can better navigate (and influence) the behavior that comes with it.

90% of a child's brain develops by age 5.
Their neural connections are being made at a rate of a million per second. No wonder they need naps.
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Toddlers are built to try everything (including your patience).
Toddlers are physiologically driven to explore, experimenting with the world around them and testing boundaries, capabilities, and reactions to their actions.
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They’re developing sense-of-self.
Toddlers become aware that they are individuals. Which means they are separate from their parents. This is where many power struggles are born.
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Emotional health starts here.
Toddlers are experiencing big emotions. It is vitally important that they are taught to create a healthy relationship with their feelings, so they can grow to be resilient.
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So does your relationship.
Parent-child interactions during the toddler years set the foundation for those relationships for years to come.
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I'm Devon.

So happy you're here!

I’m a ICF certified coach and the Founder of Transforming Toddlerhood. I’m passionate about empowering toddler parents to transform their frustration, fear and self-doubt into confidence so they can overcome behavioral challenges, experience joy and create a parent-child relationship that lasts a lifetime through connection.

Today, we’re a community of more than 100,000 parents and caregivers from around the world.

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Rather than punishing your toddler’s behavior, I invite you to look for the reason behind it. Then teach them how to meet your expectations in a developmentally appropriate way (making sure the expectation you set is realistic for their age.) This is different than how most of us were raised and it takes some practice to start to shift our response. Focus on practicing and learning from each try instead of doing it perfectly.

When we are on the same team as a child and come together to work out a problem, the lesson is much deeper than simply responding to the challenge with a knee-jerk reaction. And if you accidentally respond with a knee-jerk reaction - it’s ok! You can make amends and practice again!

Our role is to be a child’s Loving Leader and Guide™️ through these early years. Creating emotional safety and connection builds a relationship of trust. By addressing the need beneath the behavior creates the environment a child needs to LEARN.

For example, instead of punishing them for throwing their plate onto the floor at dinner time, stay neutral and say, “I see you threw your plate. What are you trying to say? Are you done eating or do you want my attention?” Then you can show them what to do instead and have them practice it.

Depending on their age, the need behind the behavior could be part of discovering cause and effect. While this is frustrating to adults, it’s completely normal and developmentally appropriate. Experimenting during playtime may help them satisfy the need. (Activities like dropping a ball, a stuffed animal, or other toys and talking about what they each do when they hit the floor.)

How do you view discipline when your toddler makes a mistake?
Telling your child, “Good job!” isn’t wrong, however it also isn’t as supportive as it could be. It implies that not meeting the outcome would have been bad. According to research, praising children, especially those with low self-esteem, for their personal qualities rather than their efforts may make them feel more ashamed when they fail.

Evaluating or judging praise can unintentionally communicate that your love and acceptance is conditional. It encourages kids to compare themselves against others and the expectations of others. It also has them look outside of themselves for approval which can reduce their trust in themselves, self-confidence and intrinsic motivation.

Praise their effort instead. This takes time to practice and be mindful around, and it’s worth the effort! Narrate what you see, especially when they struggled and kept trying. “You couldn’t find the right fit for that puzzle piece at first, you kept testing different pieces and then you did it! You figured out how to connect the pieces!”. Shifting from “Good job” to “You did it!” acknowledges and mirrors your child’s excitement.

When I’ve discussed this topic on previous posts, I get comments asking for alternative sayings to commit to memory. So I created an entire pdf with more information on this topic and 25 Alternative sayings to “Good job!”. It’s a FREE pdf that you can grab from my link in bio @transformingtoddlerhood

What alternatives do you use with your little one? Share in the comments below!
For more support in overcoming the challenges of toddlerhood and creating confidence in your parenting skills be sure to follow @transformingtoddlerhood ❤

Toddlers wear their emotions on their sleeves. They don’t filter them or shove them down or ignore them like we tend to do as adults. However, it’s something they learn to do if we negatively react to their emotions.

When your child is having a hard moment or feeling big feelings, it doesn’t mean anything about your parenting. It also doesn’t mean you’re failing as a parent. A toddler is SUPPOSED to experience and share their feelings. It’s actually healthy for them to release their emotions that build up over the course of a day.

Instead of implying that feeling big emotions are “wrong”, be the safe place when your child is distressed. Validating their feelings will create a foundation of trust and emotional intelligence. Naming their feelings helps them identify them as they grow and learn.

I invite you to remember that your child loves you more than anyone else in this world. They share their biggest feelings with you because they know you love them unconditionally.

Tag a friend who could use support in the toddler years!
When toddlers hear phrases that put the emphasis on praise only for a job well done, such as “Good job!” constantly, that can send the message that, “Mom only tells me good job when I complete a task correctly.” .
Try using descriptive phrases that build up confidence through intrinsic motivation instead of using phrases that lead to seeking approval.

Evaluative phrases such as “Good job.” and “You are so smart.” can reinforce extrinsic motivation which later in life shows up as people pleasing and not listening to their own inner compass as their authentic selves. A child feels good temporarily and then ends up continuously seeking that “excellent’ approval.”

Confidence building phrases focus on the effort and not the results by describing what is seen and heard.
“Wow you worked really hard at coloring that! Tell me what you drew.”
“You were so nervous to climb up the slide, look at how brave you are!”
“You did it! That was helpful. Thank you for sweeping up all the crumbs with your broom.”

These phrases focus on reinforcing the learning process and genuine effort. We ALL struggle when we learn a new skill. When we receive encouragement we’re more likely to follow through the hard parts.

Looking for a cheatsheet to remember all of this? ✨Download my FREE pdf - 25 alternatives to “Good job!” Intentional Praise that Supports Your Toddler in Developing Confidence and a Growth Mindset. ✨You can find it by clicking the link in my bio @transformingtoddlerhood

So tell me, what phrases do you find yourself repeating? How could you modify them with this new perspective?
As adults, we have a tendency to avoid the mess. Physical messes AND emotional messes. I don’t know about you but both can trigger me!

Toddlerhood is all about adults confronting messes. When it’s physical it’s a little easier to identify. “This room is a mess and it’s making me crazy. We need to clean it up.” When it’s an emotional mess, that’s a little harder to see.

Mealtime can feel messy in both the physical way of a dish being thrown across the room. And it can be emotionally messy by the rejection of your hard work; Meal planning for your family. The effort of remembering and buying all of the ingredients. Cooking the meal (possibly while multitasking with a curious toddler and even a baby).

So when you hear, “I HATE this dinner!” it’s not surprising if this feels just as messy as a bowl being dumped out onto the floor.

I invite you to set boundaries around mealtime. Accept that you cannot control what your toddler feels around the food you cook. You can offer a simple, “This is what we are having for dinner. It’s ok to be upset.”

Create a limit that you’re comfortable with that’s consistent through all of your mealtimes if they don’t choose to eat. For example:
📌You always put something on your child’s plate you know they will eat so you can say “It’s ok. You don’t have to eat it.”
📌 You offer an alternative that is within your boundaries. 

Your feelings are valid just the same as your toddler. We cannot control the reactions or actions of others, including toddlers. We can only focus on our own. For more support in overcoming the challenges of toddlerhood and creating confidence in your parenting skills be sure to follow @transformingtoddlerhood ❤️

Does your child struggle at mealtime? Does it bring up big feelings for you?
One of the most critical pieces of a baby and toddler’s life is to have a secure attachment with at least one adult. A parent or primary caregiver who offers them a sense of safety, comfort, and acknowledgment.

These safe and secure interactions with an adult caregiver early in life create the brain development sets the pattern for their nervous system to respond/react to certain situations and is needed for having successful relationships in the future.

So what does that look like in day to day life? Making eye contact with your little one, listening and responding to their questions, validating their feelings, setting boundaries, and solving problems together.

This doesn’t require you to be a perfect parent engaging with their child every minute of the day (and night!). That’s definitely not the case. As long as you are showing up for your child, not perfectly, but consistently and predictably that’s enough!

One final note is that when we take care of ourselves, it has a positive impact on taking care of little ones. It’s like a two for one deal.

How are you feeling these days? What could you use support around?
It is easy to spot kids who like to play rough. They need physical inputs, to use their muscles, and they often crave action. The truth is- roughhousing and rough and tumble play has lots of benefits for children!

And not just because it’s fun. Research shows roughhousing is an important part of child development. 🌟Physical skills such as strength, body awareness, coordination and balance are all learned when playing like this.

🌟Not to mention the social-emotional skills that are learned as well such as regulating emotions with their parents' support. This type of play helps toddlers learn how to relate to others. How does this person feel when I do this? And when things get a little out of hand, they’re learning compassion and empathy.

It’s great for a toddler to play rough and tumble with adults who can guide them along the way. Adults are the Loving Leader and Guide™ who can help give words to emotions or actions that are outside of the boundary. Setting limits is not only necessary for safety but also for learning how to have fun within boundaries and respecting others.

Does your little one like to play rough? Have you previously realized all the benefits?
Mealtimes can be packed with emotions for both parents and toddlers. Of course it’s us adults that are often the most concerned with a child getting proper nutrition at every meal. To this I want to share, it’s more about what your child eats throughout a 24 hour period, than at one sitting.

Food can have deeper meanings that we may realize. Whether or not a child eats can create a power struggle or a feeling of rejection or success for us adults, depending on how the meal is received. Adults have a tendency to place these meanings onto meals when a toddler just sees - food.

The best way to shift this is to remember what your job is as an adult. What your child’s job is. When everyone’s role is clear mealtimes start to shift. I invite you to focus on your job and specifically what you can control. From there focus on creating connection and trust rather than reacting to how your toddler does their job at meals. This takes practice! 

A few tips on exploring foods with your little one;
🔸You may have to offer your child a new food around 12-30 times before accepting it. Don’t give up right away!
🔸Prepare foods in different ways. Your kiddo may love raw carrot sticks and not (yet) like steamed carrots. 
🔸Always be sure to offer something your child likes alongside a new food.
🔸Create partnership by making the menu together and offering choices within your boundaries.

As the Loving Leader & Guide™ it’s your job to set limits and respect your child’s body by not forcing them to eat. We want to create a positive association with mealtimes and food in general. Also, it’s important to teach toddlers to understand what feeling ✨hungry✨ and ✨full✨ both feel like rather than what we perceive as an onlooker. 

Does mealtime bring up big feelings for you or your co-parent? How do you navigate it?
Saying, “No” and “Stop!” are often a reflex. It comes from being in a stress response and perceiving a threat or danger. As long as your toddler is safe, it’s important to remind yourself, “there isn’t any danger and everyone is safe.” And then consciously choose a new way of responding to your toddler.

Even if you don’t like the behavior. It’s possible to set clear and firm boundaries without using these words. Such as, “I won’t let you…” and then physically becoming the boundary so your toddler can’t follow through.

As an example, your toddler has unrolled all of the toilet paper in the bathroom. Instead of responding quickly with a “No, stop!” you could pause and say, “I won’t let you unroll the toilet paper.” Then take the roll out of their hand and move your toddler outside of the bathroom.

This gives them a clear boundary and you follow through with the limit. Then when it comes time for a true emergency and you tell your child to “STOP!” they will be more inclined to have your attention.

Do you find yourself saying no or stop often? What moments does it happen?

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