THE TODDLER ROADMAP Episode 12 – Setting Boundaries for your Toddler

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

Everything you need to raise a happy, confident, resilient toddler undamaged by living through a pandemic!




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Show notes:

Coming up in Episode 12 we will be looking at setting boundaries for your toddler. Why boundaries are important, what they teach your toddler and what hijacks you being consistent!

In this episode:

  • Potty Pointers for Toilet Training
  • Great Games to Play with Together

Click here to learn more about the toddler roadmap! – FREE Training

Remember, if you want to review what we’ve talked about, check out the full Show Notes

There, you can find a full article on the topic, videos that summarise the different elements and links to any tools or resources we’ve pointed out. You can also drop us a comment there and get involved in the conversation.

With Parentverse Guest: Sue Atkins in Conversation with Debi John Play Consultant, Speaker and Author of PAUSE, PLAY, CONNECT Flow.


Listen to the Full Interview on The Parentverse



To get my full advice and videos join my Toddler Roadmap

  • Setting boundaries for your toddler

If you find disciplining your toddler difficult, this part of the programme may well save your sanity and get you and your children on the path towards an organised, happy and harmonious home life!

Managing your children’s behaviour takes hard work, persistence,

dedication, a sense of perspective, and a healthy sense of humour, but with time and effort – along with my tips and strategies in this collection I know you can and will succeed.

I think it helps to remember to expect the best from your toddler, to get the basics right, and to stay positive. Your kids will grow up into well-mannered and well-behaved adults to make you proud.

It’s important to understand the reasons behind your Toddler’s Behaviour.

Children always have a purpose for behaving in the ways they do.

They can behave ‘badly’ for any of the following reasons:

  • They’re exploring.

Children sometimes do things to test situations and to get a response and reaction from you. With young children, what other people may see as ‘naughty’ is really just a curious child trying to increase their understanding of the world – putting their biscuits in the DVD is really just to find out what happens to the machine when it opens and closes not to be deliberately naughty.

  • They’re looking for limits.

Toddlers need boundaries set by you – throwing a cup on the floor for the eighth time is just a way in which your toddler sees how far they can go. They are testing you so let them but let them also know – you’re consistent and not to be challenged!

Be very clear what behaviour is acceptable to you and don’t back down. The secret is not to have a stand off on every issue, so choose your battles wisely.

  • They’re bored and seeking attention.

Children want your attention; in fact, it’s the greatest gift you can give them. Because any attention is better than none, a bored toddler may start misbehaving just to get you to focus on them. So, rewarding misbehaviour is a big mistake because you reinforce the bad behaviour that you actually don’t want.

Of course, ignoring bad behaviour is really difficult because it automatically draws you in and winds you up. But again, take a deep slow breath to help ground yourself and remember your one point and feel yourself grounded, in control and looking at the bigger picture which is to teach your toddler boundaries long term.

  • They’re responding to the signals you send.

Whether you know it, like it or want to run away from it – you are the ultimate role model. As a parent, you’re constantly sending messages about the right way to behave with your toddler with family, friends, children, teachers, shop assistants, and so on.

You send messages about how to behave in the way you talk to your children, the words you use, your body language, and how you react to their positive or negative behaviour. If a child hears you telling them off by shouting loudly but then you say they mustn’t shout – are you sending the message that only adults are allowed to shout?

It’s a really good idea to act out the behaviour you do want to see and watch what happens.

  • They’re unhappy.

If your toddler is tired, hungry, in a bad mood, or unwell, they’re less likely to behave reasonably. Because children are not mature or experienced enough to recognise the signs of feeling tired or unwell, they may whinge or play up.

As an adult you can recognise the signs of your child being sleepy or ill and make allowances for them. You can be clear about what you’ll accept while also allowing more flexibility until the current blip passes

Let’s take a few moments now to look at

Why you need to set limits – pause here and write down as many reasons you can think of for why you need to set limits and create boundaries.

Kids like to test us – kids like to see if we really mean what we say – they want to feel secure, so boundaries create safety, they want our attention so “negative attention” is better than nothing – but overall boundaries help kids:

  • Know how far they can go
  • Knowing their boundaries helps kids feel safe
  • Boundaries help teach children respect for you, other people and property.
  • Boundaries teach kids self control
  • Boundaries teach them to be responsible adults in the long term

Now pause and ponder and then write down why it is often so hard to set boundaries.

Perhaps you’re too tired, too busy, hard to keep going, guilt, other things to worry about, peer pressure, too strict parenting yourself by your own parents, lack of confidence, little support from your partner, a need to be liked by your kids, too much hassle, you get too angry, your confused about what is acceptable

I think it helps to know what loving discipline is and what it’s not!

Setting boundaries for your toddler is:

  • About training your child’s character not punishing them
  • It’s about you being their parents and needing to be a leader and their guide more than their friend
  • It’s about consistency and following through to earn respect

long term

  • And of course, It’s about the age and maturity of your individual child

What it’s not!

  • Being inconsistent – saying one thing one day and not the next
  • Dominating or controlling
  • Yelling. Threatening. Criticising
  • Violence

What’s your style of discipline?

Here’s a story or an analogy I always use when I’m coaching and talking to parents.

I remember hearing this story, when I was training to be a teacher,

about the sheep in a field.

In the first field there was a very tight pen, and the sheep felt very restricted and held back within such a close boundary. He felt stifled.

In the second field there were no boundaries at all, and the sheep was absolutely terrified. He had no protection.

In the third field he had a safe, consistent boundary that allowed him some independence and freedom and it was flexible as he got older.

I thought it was a simple but thought-provoking analogy.

So, which field are you creating for your child?

Join us on the show notes and let me know

We’ve looked at your values and what’s important to you, we’ve looked at saying “no” to your toddler and why that’s important and we’ve looked at consistent discipline and boundaries but …….

What to do when your boundaries are challenged.

To find out Check out Module 12 on my TODDLER ROADMAP for the comprehensive low down on everything you need to know about BOUNDARIES

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I have created a private and safe space for us all – a Facebook Group called ‘Don’t Stew ~ Ask Sue Atkins’ where you can ask me anything from niggles, worries, or problems or perhaps you’d just like some new ideas or you’d like to make some new friends.

Jump on and join in – it’s free from finger pointing or tut-tting – it takes a village and we’re all in this together!

It’s like a community clubhouse  – to make sure we get together to chat, laugh and support each other on the journey  – so grab a coffee and let’s get social 😊

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Coming up in Episode 13 we will be looking at …… Handling a new brother or sister positively and preparing your toddler for a new arrival.

First-born children usually feel a whole raft of different emotions when a younger sibling is born. Excitement, anxiety, love, hate, pride, and jealousy to name just a few.

The trick, as a parent, is to allow your child to express all these feelings openly without judgement, good and bad, at least in words.

Without this outlet your toddler’s perfectly understandable negative emotions are much more likely to lead to physical outbursts — hitting, pinching, or pushing, or feelings of displacement.

Don’t Stew – Ask Sue Parenting Q & A

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