Parenting a toddler can be one of the most amazing experiences in life, and yet it can also be one of the most challenging with new roles, expectations, and responsibilities. I am going to share some thoughts as it relates to parenting toddlers. Before we get started, sit back and have a couple laughs with these hilarious parenting quotes.

“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.”—Erma Bombeck

“It is amazing how quickly the kids learn to drive a car, yet are unable to understand the lawnmower, snow blower, or vacuum cleaner.”—Ben Bergor

“Like all parents, my husband and I just do the best we can, and hold our breath, and hope we’ve set aside enough money to pay for our kids’ therapy.”—Michelle Pfeiffer

Now that we have all had our fair share of laughs, let’s talk business. As a mom of a toddler myself, I have felt the joy and frustration of raising a toddler. Everybody tells you different things and you may find yourself stuck trying to sort through the good advice from the “just advice” category.

These tips will let your child know that you love them for who (s)he is.

We all have different ambitions and goals for our children’s future. Sometimes these ambitions can blind us from letting our child just be. Accepting our children unconditionally for their unique gifts, personality, and quirks is the biggest blessing we can give them. Why? This teaches them that they are accepted and valuable just the way area. Low self-esteem is in epidemic proportions in western civilization. In a lot of ways, the basis of our self-esteem starts in childhood, so that leads us to our first parenting toddler tip. Here are practical tips to help you transition from experiencing the terrible twos to perhaps the tremendous twos.

Catch your child being good!

Often times we can get in a rut as parents of criticizing and disciplining. Catch your child doing something good and try to compliment them at least three times for every one time you have to discipline them.

Communicate their feelings back to them, briefly.

They need to know you understand them! For example, my daughter gets angry for not getting another cookie; I say to her, “Wow Cassia, you are really angry. You want that cookie! But you can not have the cookie because you already had one.” Try and communicate back to your child what (s)he is feeling. This minimizes tantrums and other acting out behaviors.

If you and your spouse differ on parenting ideas or discipline, talk about it separately from the child.

The child needs to believe that you and your spouse are a unified front.

Create bedtime routines and waking up routines so your child knows what to expect.

Compromise on the negotiables.

Children will be more compliant on the majors if they feel a sense of power as well on some of the minor issues.

For example, you’re at the park with your child and you say “Okay Sally, it’s time to go back home.” Sally throws a fit because she is not ready to go home. You say, “OK, Sally, you make the choice, do you want to leave now, or do you want to play for 2 more minutes?”

When you are planning on ending an activity give your child about a five-minute warning to help prepare them for the transition. “Okay, Robbie in about five minutes we are going to leave the water-slide park.”

Ask for your child’s opinion on things!

This helps them realize that what they say matters.

Use time outs consistently when needed and give your toddler a warning when it is coming.

Some babies start needing time outs as early as 12 months; others many not need time outs until they are two or three. The general rule of thumb with time outs is one minute of time for each year old they are. Talk to your significant other about what specific behaviors warrant a time out and which behaviors require less forms of discipline such as ignoring. Be on the same page!

Let your child know when you have made a mistake.

We want to teach our child to be honest and humble and admit when they make mistakes. We also want to let them know that no one is perfect. What better way to show them this than for us as parents to admit when we make mistakes? Saying a genuine “I’m sorry” goes along way.

Get professional help when you need it or ask a trusted friend for help when you are struggling with your child.

As parents, sometimes we all need help.

Parenting a toddler can be tough and it can be very rewarding.

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Kelly Johnson is therapist from Aurora, CO. Kelly sees people for a wide variety of issues, but has a special passion for empowering people with a strong sense of self esteem and identity which results in healthier relationships and families.