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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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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?
✨When you make the relationship the foundation of your parenting, instead of demanding compliance above all else, something magical happens.✨

It opens the door for compassion and partnership. Addressing the needs beneath their behavior builds trust into your relationship. By creating a connection with your toddler you create influence rather than enforcing compliance through threats and bribery which only work short term

Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. In the long term, every parent that I know hopes to have a strong and healthy relationship with their child. If you listen to them now when they are little, then they will come to you as they grow and face bigger hurdles. The foundation of trust is built now.

Positive parenting creates connection, communicates unconditional love, emotional safety, and trust in the parent/child relationship. With this heart-open shift comes fewer power struggles and more empathy and love.

For more support in overcoming the challenges of toddlerhood and creating confidence in your parenting skills be sure to follow @transformingtoddlerhood ❤️ Tag a friend who could use some support in the toddler years. ❤️
A few of my private coaching clients have been struggling with their toddler being timid and unsure in social situations. For some kids, this is just part of their temperament and the isolation of the pandemic can make social settings even more daunting than usual.
What’s important is to honor where your child is at. Respecting their feelings and fears looks like saying, “It’s ok to take your time. You can stay with me until you’re ready to play.” Creating a connection and security will actually encourage your toddler to confidently explore knowing you’re there.
When your little one faces new experiences, it’s normal for them to observe for however long they need. In Natasha Daniels book, How to Parent an Anxious Toddler, she compares children to deer looking at their surroundings. Some deer take their time looking around before moving into a new area. It’s self preservation and it’s healthy to check things out before moving in.
When parents support their children by validating their feelings, you are saying, “I love you no matter how you behave.” Some children just take more time to open up than others, there is no right or wrong.
Do you have a child who appears timid in social settings? How do you help your child navigate them?
Transitioning away from a pacifier can feel daunting for some parents. So let’s set the stage for success for both you and your toddler.
✴️ As reference, most dentists and pediatricians recommend giving up a pacifier between ages 2 and 3 years old.
📚 Start by prepping your child a couple of weeks in advance by reading books about giving up a pacifier.
📅 Next, set a concrete date and have a visual countdown. You can number sticky notes such as 5, 4, 3... to help them pull off each day.
💪 Instead of justifying and convincing, stay neutral and confident. If you seem unsure or unclear about the transition, then your toddler may become more anxious as the time gets closer. 
🌙 Set limits around using it during the day. Instead, only use it at bed time. When they wake up in the morning or after a nap, ask them to take out their pacifier and leave it in their bed. (You may want to put it out of easy reach once they do this.)
You can choose how it happens based on what’s best for your child. Some methods are;
🔸The pacifier fairy will come like the tooth fairy and take the pacifier.
🔸You could sew the pacis into a stuffed animal so your child knows they still ‘have’ them or take the pacifiers to Build A Bear to do this.
🔸You can bring your LO to the store and let your child pick out a new security object such as a lovey to have at night.
💥 Expect big emotions and hold space for them. The pacifier is a security object and source of comfort for your toddler. It’s normal for them to feel upset when they can’t have it. Remember if you’ve committed to taking it away, I encourage you to follow through. Going back and forth can be confusing for toddlers.
🎉 Don’t forget to celebrate after it happens! This is a big milestone for you and your toddler. If you feel slightly (or greatly) emotional about this moment, that’s okay! Watching your baby grow into a toddler is full of big feelings. You got this!
Does your toddler still have a pacifier? Have you thought about how you will help your toddler make the transition?
Did you know that studies show that hugging has amazing health benefits? 🥰 Physical touch increases serotonin levels and gives the body a boost of the “feel good” hormone. Which helps us feel better about ourselves and others around us. It can even boost our immune system and reduce physical pain.
👩‍👧‍👦If this season is particularly hard for you, give cuddling a try! Hugs raise our dopamine levels and reduce the symptoms of depression similar to that of antidepressant drugs.
Create mindfulness around getting those snuggles in on a regular basis.
❤️Read a book with your arm around your little one
❤️Braid their hair while they sit in your lap
❤️Hold their hands while walking from their room to the kitchen
❤️Seize any moment you can to bend down and connect with your kiddo and tell them how much you love them along with a hug.
It can be quick and meaningful!
✨Note: I know lots of parents share that by the end of the day they can feel, “touched out”. With so much time spent at home, this post might feel dismissive of that very valid feeling. I hope you know that if you’re feeling touched out, that’s okay too! I encourage you to set a boundary so that you and your child have your needs met. 💜That might look like dedicated time spent cuddling on the couch before you start your day. 🧡 Or perhaps a clear boundary such as, no hugging while mom cooks/or is in the kitchen. 💛 There’s no right or wrong way of creating connection that works for you and your family.
Drop a ❤️ below if you are ready to boost the serotonin levels in your house today!
Graphic: @positiveenergy_plus

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