The day that our darling child turns into a screaming, tantrum-throwing, dictator is always a shock, so it’s good to know that the demanding toddler is a phase, not a life sentence! But what can we do when it happens?
Create sensible expectations
We can help our children to achieve good behaviour by crafting behaviour patterns that allow them to recognise what’s expected of them and work towards it. For example – if you have a child that struggles to concentrate, and you have a long boring car journey ahead, talk to your child about all the strategies you have put in place to forestall boredom eg a finger spinner, a pompom maker, a story that you’ll listen to together, a travel pillow and a blanket so they can nap … This allows your child to understand how long the journey will be and that they will be expected to at least try to sleep at some point in the process.
Pick your battles carefully
When you have a nanny there can be a temptation to overdo the disciplinary aspect of child care just because you’ve got that extra person involved. However, it’s really vital to ensure you prioritise the really vital elements such as eating well, dressing appropriately for weather conditions and interacting with others in a respectful fashion.
Give your child choices
One major tip from our nanny candidates who’ve cared for demanding toddlers is that if you give your child a choice, it can still lead to the same outcome – for example asking your child whether they want a banana or a pear still leads to them eating fruit. Offering the option of wearing sandals or training shoes still gets you child out of the house in shoes!
Use early warnings
One of our most experienced nannies suggests that using a timer on your phone to alert your child to the end of an enjoyable activity. This works really well for two reasons:
- the timer isn’t personal – it’s not you saying ‘time’s up’
- most toddlers love pressing buttons and playing with devices, so allowing them to turn off the timer is actually a reward rather than giving up their fun.
Allow plenty of time for ‘changes of direction’. Our guideline is to allow ten minutes to end any activity, 20 minutes if it involves moving from place to place!
Toddler years are frustrating – many children don’t have either the words or the physical skills to do what they want, what they see you and other older children doing with ease. While they are infuriating you, it can be difficult to understand that they are infuriated with themselves and the world in which they find themselves struggling to master activities and feelings that they aren’t quite ready for.
Accept that every toddler has their moments, as our picture famously shows and above all, it’s important to remember that this passes – you’ll probably find that your little one has specific times of day or activities when they are unusually uncooperative and it’s good to trade those times off with your nanny so that, where possible, you get to share the tough periods around!