Managing your child when he is a Toddler is one of the most challenging and rewarding periods of his childhood.

Well, you made it through those early months, and now you have the Toddler years to look forward to. These can be really fun years as your child grows and develops. He will look up to you and learn very quickly from you, whether it is how to hit a ball, ride a bicycle, learn nursery rhymes, or simply socialise with other people. His brain is like a sponge and everything you do will be observed and taken in. Sometimes you will only realise exactly what he has registered when you are least expecting it. So be ready to be surprised.

Some people say that the mother is the most important point of reference for your child during these early years. This may seem to be the case, but don’t let it put you off. I believe you are both as important as each other, only in different ways.

These initial years can have a huge impact on the closeness of your relationship with your child later on. Trust, respect, and love is built up during these early years, and all of these will help you overcome the challenges that lie ahead as they grow up. They will allow you to be truly involved with your child and be able to offer a balanced upbringing to him. You will never be a peripheral figure to your child, and together with your partner, you will be taking just as important role as she does. Remember, you as his father, also have a duty to be involved in every aspect of his life.

The few years when your child is a toddler can be very tiring and stressful high energy stuff. They are so inquisitive and want to discover so much and so quickly, but their attention span is very short. Beware they can be a danger to themselves without you watching over them. When you couple your toddler’s naivety and inexperience with their sudden energy spurts, you have to balance the need to let them discover and explore life, with the need to keep them safe themselves.

These are also really fun times, as you and your partner are the total centre of your child’s universe. This is a huge responsibility, as you are your Toddler’s idol, role model, comforter, play mate, provider and protector. However, the sense of satisfaction and joy for you, not to mention for your child, during these years, as you build closer and closer bonds, is nothing short of incredible.

When the inevitable challenges of bringing him up present themselves, which they certainly will, hopefully you will feel that you have some potential options and solutions. And trust me, there will definitely be some occasions where you feel you need some.

 

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How important are you as a Role Model for your child?

Sometimes you can forget how important you are as a positive Role Model for your child, and just take this vital part of the Father child dynamic for granted. Your child will observe and copy everything you do, all the time, even if you are not aware he is doing it. Boys particularly will observe very closely what you as their father are doing.

As the joint most important Role Model in your child’s life, you have a huge responsibility to lead by example, however difficult it appears to be at times. The way you behave will be considered as normal and acceptable behaviour by your child. If you are considerate and calm, your child will be. If you are aggressive and loud, you child will also be like that. The question is always, ‘what constitutes a good Role Model for your child’?

Remember at all times, ‘your children are what you make them’. Whatever you are doing or saying you must always keep this in mind. Your child will reflect how you are towards them and others on a day to day basis. The following tips on being a good Role Model are fairly obvious, and certainly not meant as a lecture, but only as an ‘aide memoire’ and is also certainly not an exhaustive list. The goal is simply to help you improve the quality of your child’s life going forward as they pass through childhood.

Work hard at what you do (paid or unpaid)

Be nice to people, even if they irritate you

Be polite and kind to everyone you come across in life

Be tolerant of other people’s differences with you

Always help others if you are able to

Never be aggressive, nasty or react violently

Be a good citizen and respect the laws of the country

Be a good listener and give your time to people you meet

If you haven’t got anything nice to say about someone, then don’t say it at all

They all seem fairly obvious, but in the heat of the moment, we often forget. Your children look to you as their beacon and you must truly lead by example.

 

Is it ever acceptable to lie to your children?

This is often one of a father’s (parent’s) real dilemmas. What level of openness and honesty should you have with your child when she is a Toddler or under 7? Should you tell her exactly what is going on and risk upsetting her, or are there ever times when lying to you child is acceptable? Every parent wants their child to be brought up to be open and honest and therefore you may worry that if you are not like that with your child every time, she may assume that not being honest is acceptable and normal behaviour.

It really depends on the sensitivity of your child and you may feel that a ‘white lie’ is acceptable if it is done to protect your child from something, particularly if they are not yet of an age when they can understand the full consequences of it. The dilemma of course, is that you may not want to tell a lie to your child.

Once your child gets a bit older and becomes more mature, you will decide when she is ready to hear the truth every time. But initially this may be very hard for her to take in or accept. Irrespective of the age of your child, you may decide that on very serious issues, you will never lie to her. This rule however, can be very difficult to stick to, but if you always keep in mind that your child deserves to be treated with respect, then you will always make the right choice for her.

If you do decide not to tell your child something and tell her a lie, you must ensure that there is no way she can ever find out the truth, until at least she is an adult. If she does, then it will say to her that this is an acceptable way to behave. Always remember, your child, particularly as a Toddler and up to puberty, will look to you as her role model and if you do something, then she will do it as well.

Your child only has one chance to make a first impression!

A key social skill that your child needs to learn at a very young age is the ability to make a good first impression. He will only ever have one chance to do this with everyone he meets. So whether it is for an entrance interview to a new school, or a job interview, or meeting a new business contact to seal that important sales contract, first impressions are vital. So how can you help your child to succeed at this?

You can start at a very young age, when he is only a Toddler and encourage him to stop whatever he is doing when someone arrives at your house and go and positively greet them. A firm handshake, whether you have a son or a daughter, will always start the first meeting off in a good way. By stopping what he was doing, shows your visitor that he is important and worth stopping everything to go and say hello to. All your visitors will appreciate this from your child.

When your child greets your guest, encourage him to look the person straight in the eye when he says hello. Many children will look down or away when they first greet someone, so encourage your child to make immediate eye contact. Your child is not inferior to your guest, so being deferential is not needed. Your guest will certainly notice the confidence and warmth of the greeting from your child and will appreciate it. Your child will also feel good about himself and it will help his self confidence.

Not only will this make a good first impression, but it also shows your child has good manners, which will just reinforce the excellent impression that your child has created. This is a very important communication and life skill and will be liked by everyone. It will help make your child a positive and outward going individual, which is a great social skill for him to have as he grows up and moves into adulthood.

First impressions last, and you should make sure your child knows this. He will thank you in later life.