Page 15 - Baby Society Magazine Issue 32
P. 15

By Kim Amato,
Baby’s Bounty Founder & Board Emeritus
A new year always offers so much possibility. To change your trajectory, to wipe the slate clean, to begin again with a new sense of purpose. Because parenting can sometimes use a reset.
Everyone makes mistakes, even parents, and oftentimes, it feels like we got it all wrong. Comments or advice from well-meaning relatives can cut deep and feed into our insecurities about how we raise our children.
So here’s what I know. First of all, you don’t need to have all the answers. Child rearing is a process, and every child is different. As they grow and develop, your parenting style may need to change. Try to have realistic expectations with your children, your partner and yourself.
Second, don’t take the bait. Kids, including toddlers, know what triggers a reaction when they behave in a certain way. If you find yourself saying “no” to your toddler over and over again, create an environment with fewer untouchables to ease their frustration and yours.
When kids act up, it often stems from feeling left out. Your time is really all they want, so leave the dishes in the sink after dinner and walk the dog together, say hi to the neighbors, gather some leaves for a craft project, and then challenge the kids to race each other home.
Sure, there will be plenty of days when all you want to do after a long day is sit down with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and stare out the window. But I always found that was when my children craved the most attention, mainly because they hadn’t seen me all day.
And third, be consistent. Make rules and establish guidelines, then stick to them to avoid confusion. If it becomes increasingly difficult to get someone into bed, you’re not going to change bedtime, but you can give a kid more choices to get there. When they decide whether to bathe first or brush their teeth, it doesn’t change the end goal, but it does foster independence and gives them agency over their own bodies.
 Start that process early by giving toddlers simple choices in their day-to-day routines. Let them pick out which bib to wear, choose what cup to use, and choose whether to put their coat on first or their hat. Those little accomplishments make them feel proud, capable, and independent.
Simple family chores make them feel more like a part of the family. Toddlers love to help put clothes in the dryer, place napkins on the table, and give the dog a treat. Giving them responsibilities builds confidence!
When they display good behavior, point it out. “You played so gently with the puppy.” Or “It was kind of you to let your friend go first down the slide.” Our tone of voice, body language, and expressions are observed and absorbed by our kids all day long. Criticizing or comparing them unfavorably to another child or sibling can make them feel confused and worthless.
You’ll still have days when you don’t get it all right, but all we can really do at the end of the day is make sure that our kids know that even though we don’t always love their behavior, we love them to the moon and back.

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