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NYS Parent Guide
 

24-36 Months: Growth and Development

You and Your Terrific Two-Year-Old

Guiding Your Child

Guiding Your Child

Now is the time for you to have patience for two… you and your toddler. Toddlers are easily frustrated. (You would be too if you were caught between being a baby and a “grown-up” preschooler.) They don’t know how to be patient—yet. But your toddler is learning this important skill—by living with and watching you. How you respond when she is frustrated or upset teaches her how to handle challenges. Here are a few ideas to help you teach your child to manage when things don’t go her way:

Here are some things you can do:

  • Use what you know and observe about your toddler to avoid or help her manage frustration. Try to identify situations, people, activities and transitions (typical changes in everyday routines) that frustrate her. Think about what else is going on in her life that makes frustration hard to handle. Is she tired? Not feeling well? Have there been big changes at home such as the birth of a new sibling or a change in childcare provider? This information can lead to decisions that can make life easier and better for both of you. For example: Don’t go to the supermarket when she hasn’t had a nap. Give her some extra one-on-one time to help her adjust to her new brother.
  • Make and use clear simple rules and limits. Keep rules very simple and be prepared to say the rule many times over. It takes repetition, reminders, practice and time for a toddler to learn a rule.
  • Be consistent with rules and limits you set. Even if she protests. Ultimately, you want your toddler to make good choices. This means following rules even when you are not there to guide and prompt her. If your rule is ‘sit, sofas are for sitting not for climbing’ and you repeat and reinforce it, she will learn to accept it. Being consistent helps her feel safe and secure. It also gives her the chance to practice self-control.
  • Explain and show acceptable ways to behave. How will she know what she is supposed to do if you don’t tell or show her? So if you see your toddler pouring a pan of water over her cars on your favorite living room chair, explain: “The chair isn’t a good place. But you can have a ‘car wash’ in the bathtub or outside.” The ability to substitute an acceptable action with one that is not, is important. It helps develop self-regulation (making right choices on her own).
  • Give your toddler realistic, manageable choices. Ask “Do you want to wear your red or yellow socks?” It tells your toddler that you value her opinion and what she has to say. The trick is to offer only two choices, both of which you can happily deliver. More than two choices can be overwhelming. And offering a choice you can’t allow undermines her sense of pride and competence.
  • Prepare your toddler for “transitions.” Toddlers do well when they are prepared for a change in activity. One way to help them is to give cues that change is coming. “We are having so much fun building blocks but in a few minutes we are going to stop for lunch.” You can also make the change easier by giving her a way to be involved in the new activity: “It’s lunch time. Do you want to come help me build a sandwich?”
  • Celebrate the positive. Let your toddler know when they do something right rather than focusing on negative behaviors.
  • Check in on your own parenting feelings! How are you doing? Do you feel stressed about parenting your toddler? Do you find that sometimes your toddler’s behavior triggers frustration or anger in you? Be aware of your limits. Ask others for help if you feel stressed or just need a break to relax. Know that this is a challenging but expected phase for every parent and toddler. If you have questions or concerns, talk to your child’s health care provider or child care provider. Explain what is going on and make a plan to get the information and support you need.
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Did you know

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents establish “screen-free” zones at home by making sure there are no televisions, computers or video games in children’s bedrooms, and by turning off the TV during dinner. Children over twoyears- old and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content. For more info, go to www.aap.org, and search Media and Children.

Did you know

Researchers have found that parents who anger easily and over-react are more likely to have toddlers who act out and become upset easily. Parents’ ability to regulate themselves and to remain firm, confident and not over-react is a key way parents can help their toddlers to modify their behavior. OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY, 2012