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.

 

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

What can you do to make your Toddler understand that she mustn’t be rude? There is a very effective strategy.

It is normal that your Toddler behaves badly when she doesn’t get her own way, but it can be very frustrating for you and her mother. How often does it appear that she is just winding you both up more and more until you are at breaking point. You just want to shout at her or even smack  her to get her to behave. Of course this might work in the short term, but it won’t be a solution in the long term and will not help her understand that her behaviour is not acceptable.

You might say that if you shouldn’t shout at her, what can you do? It is a little like with a Teenager, withdrawing privileges will often work, particularly if it is something your child really loves. Maybe you go to the park on Saturday afternoons and she is able to go and play on the swings, or you go to the children’s farm once a month where she can see all the animals. This will certainly work, but there is also another strategy which has a more immediate effect and works very well.

Your Toddler will certainly have a favourite cuddly toy, who she always sleeps with and who she loves completely. If she is rude and aggressive with you, or her sibling, you can take away her cuddly toy. You can explain to her that if she behaves like that, her cuddly toy has told you that he doesn’t want to stay in her room. He doesn’t want to spend time with a ‘nasty’ girl, who isn’t nice to people.

She will soon learn that she has to behave properly and after a few occasions of doing this, you will find that her behaviour will change. Of course, then you will have to overcome the next challenge and we all know, there are plenty of them with Toddlers!

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.

Does your Child sulk if she doesn’t get her own way? What can you do to prevent this?

What can you do when your child sulks? It will normally happen when she doesn’t get her own way, so you need to teach her that it is not good to do this. It may lose her friends or opportunities in the future so it is vital for you to change this behaviour.

As soon as your child starts to sulk, you need to distract her. Do this by talking about or doing something positive and enjoyable which your child loves hearing about. Make sure she sees and hears what you are doing.

If she doesn’t react at first, keep going, as the more she hears about what you are doing and saying, the more interested she will become. Eventually she will forget all about what she is sulking about, and become engrossed in what you are doing and saying.

This is a very important lesson that you can teach her. She will learn that there is always something else positive and enjoyable just around the corner. This will help her as she grows older, and she will be able to overcome disappointment and move on.

Once she is old enough, around 4 or 5, you, as her father, should start to explain to her why sulking is not good. She will understand, although it may take you a while to get the message across.

How do I keep my Toddler from getting frustrated on long car journeys? Be Creative!

What can you do when you are stuck in traffic with your toddler? You know how tense it can become as your child starts getting boisterous or screaming his head off. So you need to invent some games to amuse him and stop him getting bored.

A good game to try is “the snooker game”. This can take anything up to 30 minutes to play, and will keep your toddler very interested. The objective of the game is to spot cars which are the same colours as the balls on a snooker table.

Most of the colours are easy to spot, so you start off with red, and go all the way through to black. However, have you ever noticed just how few yellow, brown or pink cars there are on the roads? In fact there are virtually no pink ones at all, so the game can really go on for as long as you want it to. Your child will be enthralled.

A variation on this game is spotting makes or types of cars. You get to choose the make to be looked out for, and whoever spots one first gets to choose the next one to find. This too can go on for as long as you need it to.

Try them, they really work, and tell me what you think.

What can you do when your child has a tantrum? Don’t be afraid to call their Bluff!

When your child is a Toddler you will know how often tantrums occur, and sometimes at the worst possible moments. These can be very inconvenient as you know. So when it happens don’t be afraid to call their Bluff!

When my son was throwing a tantrum and refused to listen to reason and kept saying “I’m leaving home, I hate this house!” (Of course he didn’t mean it), I had to find a strategy that could calm everything down. He was three years old at the time and kept saying “I don’t want to live here any more”.

I picked him up and escorted him to his bedroom, and found his little suitcase, and started packing it for him, telling him what he would need when he left home. Gradually he calmed down as he watched me packing his bag for him.

I then walked him to the front door and opened it, put his suitcase outside and said “there you go, good luck!” He became more and more sheepish as the episode unfolded, and as he stood in the doorway, the tantrum was completely forgotten about, he then apologised and said he didn’t really want to go.

He was very well behaved for many weeks after that, and when he threw a tantrum again, I only had to remind him that I would go and get his suitcase, and he calmed down immediately.