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.

 

Do you realise how observant your Toddler is?

Little children are like little sponges, and soak up everything that is happening around them, whether it is what you do, which they will copy, or what you say, which will eventually be repeated. This can be the most embarrassing as it will come out when you are least expecting it. I learnt this through experience, which eventually cost us a friendship.

I had offered to make a video at a friends wedding and give it to them after they returned from their honeymoon. As you do, before they got back, I was checking the video and doing a little editing to make it as perfect as my amateur talent could do. While I was reviewing the film, I had forgotten that my 3 year old son was sitting quietly in the Corner of the room playing in his play pen.

As I was looking through it, there was one particular shot which caught our friend at the wrong angle, and caused me to make an ‘off the cuff’ remark to my wife “I didn’t realise that Annabelle had such a big nose”. The comment was then forgotten about, particularly as that wasn’t the case in reality.

The next day she came round to our house and we welcomed her in. No sooner had she got into the lounge and my Toddler shouted out, “Daddy says you have a big nose!” At that moment, I wished I wasn’t a father, and that the ground would open up and swallow me whole. I was so embarrassed, and tried to say that my son was saying something like ‘be noise’, or an invented word ‘benose’, but he wouldn’t have any of it. He repeated and kept saying very loudly “no Daddy, you said big nose”.

Our friend was hugely offended, although she tried to laugh it off, but that day was the start of the end of our friendship. I have never made the same mistake again, so be warned.