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.

 

How do you keep your children close to you from babyhood to adulthood? It is possible, you just need the right approach and philosophy…………………Every Day

How do you know if you have got it right with your children? How do you judge if you are a successful parent as you watch your child grow up? What mistakes and pitfalls can you avoid and what ones are inevitable? These questions and many more are always in the mind of you as a parent. What you do know is that you want to be the best parent possible to your child.

So where do you start? Right at the beginning, as soon as your child is able to communicate with you. This is the door through which you must walk with your child and never let it close on you. Open communication between you as your child grows up, will allow you to overcome virtually every problem that presents itself to you. In fact even before issues become problems.

As a parent, never have any subject which cannot be discussed openly by you and your child, however uncomfortable it is for you. Strategies like always having a special time of the day when you talk about what has gone on, for both you and your child, will really work. This could be at supper time, or when you child is in bed, or those tender moments just before going to bed. You will find that this lays the foundation for a very strong relationship as your child grows up, and will make your bond together unshakeable.

At these special times, you also need to be telling your child your daily challenges as he needs to be able to relate and understand your world. Of course you need to tailor what you say depending on his age. You say your bit and encourage him to say whatever he wants to. You will be amazed at what you learn. The conversations will change as your child grows older, but will always be open and frank. Those key links you build together will always work whether your child is 2 or 22.

It is really worth making the effort on this, and you and your child will have created a bond which will help you both, and enhance your relationship together for the rest of your lives.

It is possible to amuse your Toddlers whilst stuck in the car and avoid stress for all the family. Try these games and distractions and enjoy the ride.

Playing games in the car will normally stop your child getting bored and agitated. A good one that you can play with him, is ‘the snooker game’. You ask him to spot the colours of cars in the order of the balls played in a game of snooker. You start with white, then a red, then yellow, and all the way up to black. Have you ever noticed how few yellow, brown or pink cars there are on the roads? In fact there are hardly any pink ones at all. You can keep this game going for as long as you need to. It will keep your child amused for a long while, as well as distracting you.

Another game you can play is looking for the type or make of car. For example a Volkswagen Beetle, or an Aston Martin DB9. If you want the game to last a little longer for your child, then choose a rare type of car. If you want your child to find it quickly, choose a more popular model. There are many variations on this theme that you can use depending on how creative you want to be. For example, it could be marques of lorries, buses, vans or even caravans and trailers.

If you prefer to play more educational games with your child, you can play ‘Capital cities of the world’. This game is both interesting and educational for you and your child and keeps him focussed on fun learning instead of getting frustrated because he is bored in the car. Start with very easy ones such as the Capital city of England or Scotland. You call out the country and your child has to guess its Capital city. Once he gets used to some of the answers, you can progress to other more difficult ones from European or South American countries. You will be amazed just how much knowledge your child will pick up and retain.

As you know, the car can be a very challenging environment with your small child. Occasionally if the games don’t work, you can start singing songs together. This will work well for you and can be used as a means of passing time between two points on the road. If it is fifteen minutes until your exit, you can devise a game for all of you to sing songs, one after the other and you can all give marks out of ten. For example, between two junctions on a Motorway, suggest to everyone in the car to sing an agreed song or nursery rhyme, until the second junction is reached. There must be no exceptions, and everyone must join in. Let your child choose the song as soon as the one you have chosen is finished.

You will see that time passes very quickly like this and it is very good for strengthening bonds between you and your child. It also reinforces your child’s sense of doing fun things with you. Remember you want to have really good fun with your child, and that is an important part of your relationship together! For example, while going under the Dartford Tunnel, you and your child could sing “10 little ducks went swimming one day”. The goal would be to finish the song exactly at the moment when you leave the tunnel. Your child will be enthralled.

You can also invent stories to tell to your child in the car. He will be captivated. For example, you could invent a story about ‘The Wicked Witch of Gott’ (this is a totally made up name). She is an old witch who sits at her window watching the children go to school. If somebody pulls a face at her, she will cast a spell and that face would become permanent on the child who pulled it. You can only get your normal face back if you go up to the Witch’s house and apologise to the Witch in person (nobody wanted to do that). The only other way to get your normal face back is if the wind changes direction. You can adapt this story with different characters and draw it out or shorten it depending on the length of time you are in the car. This will be subconsciously teaching your child to be polite and not to pull faces at people, also to respect others who are different.

Your child will love stories which are told by you, so you can be very creative with them. For example, you could invent one about a family of dinosaurs and its prehistoric adventures, with each dinosaur representing one member of your family. You can let your Toddler choose who is what dinosaur, then you can recount a story which you can make up as you go along. If you let your child choose who you are, you might find that you always end up being the Brontosaurus! I wonder why……

Make sure you kiss your child goodnight or he will remind you, irrespective of what you are doing. It could be very costly!

When you tuck your Toddler in at night, always kiss him ‘good night’, and when you go and greet him the next day, kiss him ‘good morning’ as well. If you do this from birth, it will become second nature to you both. It is yet another little brick in the castle of emotional ties that you are building up with your child, which will stay with both of you for the rest of your lives. Even if your child is asleep when you do this, subconsciously he will know and sense you have done it. It will also allow you both to close off the old day, and start an exciting new one together, the next morning.

This habit will last all the way through to adulthood, and if you happen to forget one night, you can be sure your child will remind you. I once had an embarrassing episode with my daughter, while I was taking an evening phone call from a potential new employer. I had answered the call before I had kissed her goodnight. She was 3 years old at the time.

I was downstairs trying to sell myself for this particular new job that I wanted and she was standing at the gate to her bedroom shouting “kiss me goodnight Daddy”. I could hear her very clearly, but was trying to remain focussed on the call. Eventually having been distracted for about 15 minutes, the call was about to end and the person interviewing me said “next time you should say goodnight to your child before you do a phone call like this”. I was shocked as I thought she couldn’t hear my Toddler. I then stumbled out some lame excuse, about why I hadn’t said goodnight to my daughter yet, before saying goodbye to my interviewer. I didn’t get the job by the way, so be warned…..

This and many more anecdotes and tips are in my Book Help I’m a Father, by Mark Hearn, which is available through Amazon

How can you as a Dad, improve the general quality of life at home when you have a demanding Toddler tiring your partner out? It is possible and there is a special benefit as well!

This is always a challenge for young parents when you have Toddlers in the household, but a little extra effort can reap dividends for you both. Even if you are exhausted when you arrive home from work, and you feel you don’t have enough energy to have a little playtime with your child, force yourself to make that extra special effort.

Always say hello to your child, wherever he is in the house and listen attentively to what he has to say to you about his day. It will be time very well spent. He will always want to greet you when you have been away, even if only for a few hours and he will remember the effort you have made for him for many years to come.

It will also give your partner a break, which she will really appreciate and recognise the effort you have made. Even though she knows you are very tired from being out all day, the fact that you have made that special effort to relieve her, will help improve your relationship together. It will give her instant relief from the pressure of children, and it will definitely improve your sex life.

This may seem like a wild claim, but as she will be far more relaxed when she goes to bed, it will definitely be more rewarding than if she is exhausted. It’s a bit like knocking over a set of dominoes. You relieve the pressure on her, she spends time on herself, she relaxes, you get tired from playing with your Toddler, you need relaxing, she spends time on you, you feel better, she feels better……it’s a win/win situation……