The Ultimate Guide To Parenting Toddlers

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

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Show notes:

In this episode:

  • Why Do Toddlers Have Tantrums and Meltdowns and 4 BRILLIANT Tips for Handling Them!
  • Whining, Crying, Kicking and Biting – Hacks To Help
  • How To Survive Your Toddler’s “NO!” phase!
  • 7 Genius Comebacks for When Your Toddler Asks ‘Why?’ All The Time
  • 10 Potty Pointers to Make Toilet Training A Breeze😊
  • Sue In Conversation With Quyionah Wingfield, mother of two, founder, creator and CEO of Cool Moms Dance Too!

Listen to the Full Interview on The Parentverse

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In my NEW Positive TODDLER Roadmap that I’m busying working on I cover top tips for handling toddler tantrums and why they happen, I give you the roadmap for potty training, why kids become fussy eaters, and what to do about it. I show you how to build self-confidence in your toddler and explain why they say ‘why?’ all the time, I give you my parenting hacks on how to handle sibling rivalry when another baby arrives, I tell you about the importance of play and how to handle when they say ‘NO!’

I tell you how to handle whining, crying, and biting. I show you my tips for getting kids into a good bedtime routine and why that’s important. I talk about why reading with kids is so important and why singing nursery rhymes with them helps their language development. I show you how to handle night terrors and I look at the bigger picture of your parenting – not just the socks and pants of life that we all get stuck in!

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Toddler Tantrums

Tantrums are a normal part of child development. They’re how young children show that they’re upset or frustrated. Tantrums may happen when kids are tired, hungry, or uncomfortable. They can have a meltdown because they can’t get something like a toy, a biscuit, or that orange cup or they can’t do what they want!

Tantrums and meltdowns are confusing and exhausting for kids and parents alike. They happen when kids have big emotions that they don’t know how to deal with. Anger and frustration are common triggers.

Many parents aren’t sure how to help their toddlers when they have a tantrum or a meltdown. It’s common to give kids what they want to stop their tantrums, like giving a child a toy or a biscuit to get them to stop crying. But that response teaches your toddler that they can get toys by crying, so they’re more likely to have more tantrums. Instead, it’s helpful to look for the triggers that cause your child to act up and steer them towards better ways to express their feelings.

Toddler tantrum tips

  • Find out why the tantrum is happening. …
  • Understand and accept your child’s anger. …
  • Find a distraction. …
  • Wait for it to stop. …
  • Don’t change your mind. …
  • Be prepared when you’re out shopping. …
  • The best way to deal with tantrums is to avoid them, whenever possible.

Here are some tips that will help:

  •  Make sure your child isn’t acting up to get attention. Establish a habit of catching your child being good (“time-in”), which means rewarding your little one with attention for positive behaviour.
  • Give your toddler control over little things. This helps them feel independent and it also helps to ward off tantrums. Offer minor choices that you can live with, such as “Would you like an apple or banana with lunch?” Limited choices between 2 options work really well.
  • When your toddler is playing or trying to master a new task, offer age-appropriate toys and games. Also, start with something easy before moving on to more challenging tasks. This will build their confidence and motivation to try things that might be frustrating. Be patient and see the world from the shoes and socks of your toddler – be patient and understanding
  • Know your child’s limits. If you know your toddler is tired, it’s not the best time to go shopping!
  •  Chat about Whining, Crying, Kicking and Biting – Tips, Hacks & Great Advice for Dealing with Them


There are many reasons why your toddler may show their distress by crying and they can include:

Fear – the dark, spiders and creepy crawlies, dogs, cats, the potty or loud noises to name only a few fears.

Anxiety – especially about separation from you or being left with a new person looking after them.

Frustration – being unable to manage, i.e. like putting on their own shoes, opening a door, twisting a lid or manipulating a toy, or not getting what they want i.e. the sweets at the checkout, or staying longer at the park.

Hunger, Tiredness or Overwhelm – your toddler may also be hungry, overtired or rebelling against something like leaving a friend’s house when they are still enjoying playing, or going to bed, or they may just want to have their own way and are demonstrating their growing need for independence.

Attention – wanting you to spend more time talking, playing or singing with them, to wanting your full attention when you may be busy.

Don’t match the whining and moaning with more whining and moaning yourself, as you feed and water the situation and make it much worse.

Think – no matchno game and choose to stay relaxed.

          • Give lots and lots of positive attention to non-whiny behaviour and practise feeling calm, grounded, positive, relaxed, and happy while not giving in. Focus on the long-term benefits of not giving in and let go of the short-term, quick-fix moments that will set you up for lots of heartache later if you give in now.
          •  Make sure you have plenty of energy to cope, by eating regularly, getting a break, catching up on your sleep or having water to keep yourself upbeat, strong and centred.
          •  Learn the wonderful art of distraction when the whining starts. It’s tempting to give in to their often very noisy and vocal demands for a bit of peace, but this is a big mistake as it’ll only make their behaviour worse long term.
          • When you have to say “no” explain why i.e. “You can’t have a biscuit now because lunch will be ready in a minute” or “You can’t watch a video now as it’ll soon be bedtime”.

Coping tactics

  • Don’t reward whining by giving your child what they want as this only teaches them that it’s the best method of getting their own way. You give away your power right then and there.
  •  Deal with obvious causes quickly. You can sort out tiredness, hunger, and boredom easily so trust your intuition.
  •  Give plenty of positive attention when your toddler asks nicely, behaves well, or does what you ask straight away.
  •  Respond quickly when your child asks for something, even if your response is no. Don’t wait until they moan.
  •  Keep your toddler busy with interesting toys and change them from time to time or hide them and bring them out a couple of weeks later to give variety. Sometimes change the activities you do with them too as this encourages curiosity and the ability to handle change easily.


‘Is it normal for toddlers to say no all the time?’ Vicky Bannerman from Banstead, Surrey

Answer :

Saying “no” is a healthy, normal, and important part of a child’s budding independence. The period of toddler development between 18 and 36 months can be a time of extremes. At this stage, children are typically striving for independence. “No” is a very powerful word that certainly gets your attention!

Although the “no” stage of your child’s speech development is often frustrating, it is also an important milestone for children and often a way for them to celebrate their newly found independence. Saying “no” is a healthy, normal, and important part of your toddler’s development.

One minute your toddler may be cuddly and cooperative; the next minute assertive and contrary. At this stage, children are typically beginning to feel their power. “No” is a very powerful word that gets your attention. Toddlers enjoy trying it out, only to come running back to the safety and comfort of a parent or caregiver. Sometimes “no” is used simply to see that words get reactions, and sometimes “no” is really “no.”

Toddlers and 2-year-olds are beginning to feel big and independent and are learning just how far that independence will take them. It’s helpful to remember that toddlers want control over their environment – they want to be in charge. So give them limited choices.

Here are tips that will help you support your child through typical toddler behaviours and this critical stage of their development:

  • Establish predictable routines that are consistent and easy for your child to understand. Predictable routines and clear expectations empower a child to do what is expected and minimise opportunities to say no.
  • Think about how often you say no to your kids and try to minimise it. Modeling is a primary way that children learn. Instead of saying, “No, we can’t read stories because you haven’t brushed your teeth,” say, “After you brush your teeth well-read stories. You can pick two.”
  • Explain the behaviour you desire from your growing toddler. Turn a negative statement into a positive one. Instead of saying, “No jumping on the couch,” explain ” Sit on the couch to cuddle and read. The floor is where people jump. Shall we read on the couch or jump on the floor?”
  • Avoid power struggles and practice saying yes, except for when it comes to health and safety matters. Choose your battles. For instance, fighting over what they wear with toddlers isn’t a battle worth fighting. Before saying no, ask yourself: “Why not? Does it really matter if my toddler wears stripes and polka dots to grandmas, or welly boots on a sunny day?”
  • Make tasks fun when you can to avoid hearing “no.” Rather than telling your child, “It’s time to put your toys away,” try “Let’s see how quickly you can put your toys away. I’ll close my eyes and count to 17.” Or you can also set a timer: “Let’s put the blocks away before the timer dings.”
  • Validate what a child wants to do and let them know in simple words that you understand why they’re angry or upset. Next, reiterate what they need to do and, if possible, throw in a fun activity. “I know you want to stay at the park and play, and I wish we could too, but we have to go to the supermarket to get lovely things for dinner. I’d like you to help me push the shopping cart.”
  • Employ humour. A smile is a curve that puts a lot of things straight  – so try lightening up  & sing a silly song or do a daft dance!
  •  Notice your child doing things right. “Thanks for picking up the blocks. You were so fast! Now we have more time to read stories.” Positive encouragement and parenting builds self-worth and also helps your toddler understand the behaviours you do want to see more of.
  • Offer limited choices whenever possible. Choices can be as minor as “What song shall we sing on our way home today?” Allowing choices reduces frustration when you must say no.

And remember, even when you have minimised your use of the word “no” and given your toddler lots of choices, there will be times when they will dig in their heels and refuse. If you are at home, patiently explain what you need them to do and why. If a tantrum erupts, wait calmly until it subsides and offer a comforting, listening ear. If you are in a public place, you may want to scoop them up and listen in the car!

The ‘Why?’ phase

 Asking “why” is a sign of curiosity and wanting to understand the world around them, which can seem big and daunting for a toddler as well as full of awe. Understanding can help them increase their confidence and sense of security so the “why” questions are important. This is very common for toddlers.

Has this happened to you?

“It’s time to brush your teeth.”


 “Because we brush our teeth at bedtime.”


“Because we need to have healthy teeth and keep them clean”


“So we can…chew.”

“Why?” ………

The Why Behind Their Repetitive Questions

Your toddler probably uses the why word for the same reason you do: to get information about a world they don’t fully understand. Toddlers have only been in the world for a short while,  so their experience of the world is limited, but their wonder and imagination are huge!

At this age, their brains are developing rapidly and they’re trying—really trying—to connect the dots in their always new and fascinating world. So be patient, be pleased that they are curious and interested in the world, and also be pleased they feel confident chatting and asking you.

Use it as a connecting time to bond and build a loving relationship with them.

Turn it on its head sometimes. Instead of putting yourself in the position of Google, try turning the tables. Become the why-asker! Ask your toddler why they think it’s good to brush their teeth before bed.

Open-ended questions allow your child to do the thinking and they develop critical-thinking skills, which are the foundation of all lifelong learning.


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