Training Terrific Toddlers

“Toddlers are busy creatures who can do more in one unsupervised minute than some of us accomplish all day.”

Charming and sometimes challenging, toddlers have overflowing energy and a stunning capacity to learn. Though young, they have amazing– and often ignored– potential.

Typical toddler training includes bathroom basics, picking up toys, and getting along with others. Consider three additional ways to train terrific toddlers:

  • Showing respect for others.
  • Behaving in public.
  • Completing simple household tasks.

“My parents gave me consequences as a child. Now I suffer from a condition known as “Respect for Others.”

Showing respect for others doesn’t come naturally. It takes practice. Practice at home what you want to see in public. Practice with your toddler every day, and then practice some more. Showing respect for others includes things such as:

  • Looking at someone that is speaking to you. Try getting their eye-lock before you speak to them at home. If repeated consistently, it will become a good habit.
  • Using good manners. If a child is physically able to say the word “cookie” then she can also utter the words “please” and “thank you.” Rehearse good manners at home by modeling them. Then, help them practice good manners everywhere they go.
  • Speaking softly in quiet public places. Try teaching fun phrases, codes or hand signals that can be used later to remind your child, “Stay quiet, we’re in a library.” Spend a worthwhile few minutes reviewing the rules and signals before entering your quiet destination.

“I used to wonder why people couldn’t control their kids in public….and then I became a parent.”

Watching public battles between a parent and child is slightly painful. How can we avoid being the star of that kind of show?

Choose an unpleasant scenario that happens regularly when you are out with your little one (such as a supermarket meltdown.) Next, pretend play the entire scene, this time with a happy ending. Practice it with your child from beginning to end. Keep it short, fun, and repeat the scene once or twice. The next time you tote your toddler to the grocery store, praise the simplest of his efforts. Never give a treat or toy to a toddler who kicks up a fuss for that item at the store. If you follow this rule consistently, the child will realize that:

  • Whining for something is a dead end.
  • Asking nicely means: sometimes I get something nice.

“It’s not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” – Ann Landers

It’s tempting to plop a child in front of a video, or shuffle them off to play outside. Though kids enjoy unstructured play time, they also find satisfaction in jobs well done. For a toddler, working alongside a patient parent can be more fun than random play. Helping with occasional chores lays a positive foundation in a child’s early life. Here is a brief list of simple toddler tasks:

  • Sweep the steps top to bottom
  • Wash their own toys in a sudsy sink
  • Sort toys
  • Wash walls and doorknobs
  • Water plants
  • Consolidate laundry into one pile for washing
  • Match socks
  • Dump trash cans into the garbage bin

“Children are not a distraction from more important work; they are the most important work.” – C.S. Lewis

Children are quick and eager to learn. They love to please the people they love. The time involved in training a toddler is an important investment. The toddler who shows respect and gratefulness will encourage others. The child who practices self-control will be a joy to take out and about. The little one who completes simple jobs will know the joy of helpful work. Through all of this, the parent will be building a positive relationship with a happier, more confident child.

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