When I started to think about setting realistic expectations for my toddler, I found that there were some battles that I should let her win. In doing so, I found that our house became a more peaceful place. I also found, however, that there were some areas that my husband and I were not willing to budge on. When setting realistic expectations, there were some that we considered important, even if difficult initially for my toddler to learn.
Safety is simply non-negotiable. Parents have a responsibility to help their toddlers learn about safety. Teaching your toddler to hold hands and look before crossing the street, to stay away from the over burner when it is hot, and to stay away from the pool without an adult present are essential in keeping your toddler safe. Parents have responsibility in this area, and should battle their children on it when necessary.
Learning manners is a difficult task for a toddler. In many ways, they fail to grasp some of the understanding of please and thank you. However, my husband and I feel strongly that it’s important to raise our child with a strong understanding of polite manners from an early age. In fact, both of my daughters said the words “peez” and “tank oo” as soon as they started walking, and they used them correctly. Did they always grasp the meaning behind the words? Probably not. But we put a lot of value in learning the importance, and think that will come in time. Therefore, we continue to reinforce positive manners and speech with our toddlers on a daily basis.
This has been a very important part of my family’s routine, and as a result, we tend to be fairly strict with it. I believe in the value of a good night’s sleep for my toddler, and though she would often like to stay up all night and not miss out on the pleasure of our company, we know that she is tired and needs to rest. We have a good bedtime routine (dinner, bath, quiet playtime or TV show, book, bed) that has consistently worked with both of my children. In addition, we believe that children need an early bedtime. It allows them to get all the sleep that they need, and my husband and I to get alone time together, which is also important. By being consistent, we’ve actually had less battles on this area as my toddlers have gotten older.
Though I have learned not to force structured meal times three times a day, I do believe that it is my responsibility to provide my child with healthy food options every day. We always offer fresh fruit and vegetables, and try to have healthy meals as much as possible. Grilled chicken, for example, is a favorite for both of my toddlers. While we do offer special snacks for dessert, like ice cream, a chocolate bar, or a cookie, my girls know that these are special treats. Of course, my daughter asks for fruit snacks every day, but knows that mommy won’t say yes every day.
Overall, we have learned to pick and choose our battles where our toddlers are concerned. These four areas are non-negotiable in our household, and our children are learning that. As a result, we are fighting about these less often as they grow up. By figuring out which battles are most important to you and letting the others go, you can help your home be a more peaceful environment for your whole family.