It’s important to look after yourself when raising a toddler. It’s also a way of looking after your child. You play such a big role in how your child develops - they’re always learning by watching what you do and how you talk to and act with others. So how are you feeling? Are you getting enough support?
Parenting takes a lot of time and patience. It’s important to find a way to give yourself some time too. Parents, caregivers and children all have good and bad days. You must look after yourself to look after your toddler.
Think about any support people and places you’ve used during the first year - are they working, and are they enough? By reconnecting with yourself in this way, you’ll be better prepared to connect with your completely loveable, though sometimes tricky, toddler.
Most children love the company of others. Playgroups, Te Kōhanga Reo, or other groups give your toddler a chance to spend time with other children. Meanwhile, you get to meet other people who are also looking after kids.
You might like to join a playgroup or support group, and to go to some parenting education sessions. Plunket staff and volunteers will know what’s on in your area.
Another way to link with other families and children is to support Plunket by becoming a Plunket member or volunteer.
Children sense when you are stressed and upset, but they do not have the developmental level to understand what’s wrong.
You might well be feeling angry and frustrated. But if you can seem calm, even if you don’t feel like it, you’ll both feel happy again sooner. Try to use a calm, quiet voice, even if you feel like yelling.
Try to avoid becoming stressed and angry with your toddler—it can make the situation worse and make you feel even more upset. Sometimes it helps to walk away for a moment to calm yourself before you deal with the problem.
If your family is involved in caring for your child, it can be a good time to talk about what works best for all of you. Your toddler will understand their world best if you all have good communication and work together. This includes your friends. That way, there’s a plan, and you can be consistent for your toddler as a group.
Being consistent works well for children, so routines are good. Simple rules and patterns with things like food, sleep and play support children to be comfortable in their world.
You can also help by planning around your child’s needs - for example; don’t take them to the supermarket when they’re tired and hungry.
Children often can’t understand adult rules. When you try to explain what you want them to do, it’s good to think about whether they understand the words you’re using.
While routines do work well, make sure you have some flexibility also.