PLN Answers Your Parenting Questions: Toddlers (Part 2)

As part of a new series, Parent Life Network tackles the most common parenting issues for new parents with expert advice from professionals… and other moms. If you missed Part 1 on newborns, we’ve got you covered.

Now that your little one is mobile, starting to communicate and explore the world around them, parenthood presents a whole new set of challenges. From fussy eating, meltdowns and navigating the world of discipline, PLN has gathered advice from Parenting Experts, Nanny Robina and Alyson Schafer, as well as real parents, to help navigate the toddler years.

What is the most effective way to discipline a toddler?

Nanny Robina: A toddler between the ages of two and three will learn much faster if you always respond the same way. He’ll probably learn his lesson after four or five times. Consistency is key. Don’t change the method, as results will not happen overnight.

Alyson Schafer: There is no need for punishment or rewards. We need to socialize kids towards constructive behaviour.

Stacey Cameron: I believe in positive parenting. Toddlers aren’t going out of their way to act in a way you don’t like. I talk to her, cuddle her and talk about feelings and expectations.

Kathy Zaremba: Positive discipline and time-ins instead of time-outs (holding your child and talking with them instead of sending them to their room). Make sure all consequences are natural and age appropriate.

What is the best way to encourage a lifelong love of learning at this age?

Nanny Robina: If your toddler has specific interests, include them. Choose books he enjoys, games he loves to play with, interactive videos, activities and other learning tools that are relevant and age appropriate. By choosing actives based on your toddlers interest and are age appropriate, you will prevent them from feeling forced because they will actually be enjoying themselves.

Parents need to teach children that mistakes are not bad, they are opportunities to learn.

Alyson Schafer: In those early years you can accidentally discourage a child by making them feel badly when they make mistakes. Part of learning is trial and error and if every time you have an error, your parent grimaces or you think they somehow love you less, you are going to be less likely to experiment… Parents need to teach children that mistakes are not bad, they are opportunities to learn.

Stacey Cameron: Let them learn by playing, exploring and getting messy.

How do you know if your child is ready to begin potty training?

Marci Kidney: ‘They’ say when they can communicate what they need to do in the potty. I say they are all very different and the key parents should focus on is being there. Most importantly take a seat somewhere and dig deep inside for patience.

Alyson Schafer: I really believe that one of the first steps of potty training is just taking an interest in the potty.

Nanny Robina: There are signs to look for, for example a damp diaper over a three-hour period could indicate better bladder control and awareness when passing a bowel movement. If they feel the need to go hide, that would indicate your toddler is aware and also has some control.

What is the best way to introduce a new sibling to a toddler?

Alyson Schafer: To feel de-throned by a sibling gives a sense of insecurity. The best way to regain security in the life of a child is for life to go back to normal as much as possible… When they see that life is not all that different with the baby, they feel more secure and are able to build a relationship.

Kim Booth: We made a big deal about them becoming a ‘big’ sibling and including them in the hospital as soon as they could get there after the birth.

Nanny Robina: When you bring a new baby home, introduce your toddler and allow your toddler to explore the baby. You may feel like jumping in and suggesting he doesn’t poke or hurt the baby. Try to refrain from doing this, as less interaction from you at this time will go a long way. He will explore and feel far happier knowing the new baby is not a threat at all.

Stacey Cameron: We found it helpful to let her help when she wanted, but never forced her to. We also explained what we were doing for the baby and why she was crying. We tried to keep her routine as consistent as we could and made sure to make special time just for her.

What is the best way to encourage healthy choices in picky eaters?

Nanny Robina: Start healthy and rid your cupboards of junk. If you only introduce healthy choices, your toddler will not know the difference. This is something you as a parent have complete control over. The key to a picky eater is to not always give in to the junk they are requesting but to offer two choices and make both choices healthier options.

Stacey Cameron: She fights eating dinner so we make sure to cook one thing she likes but don’t force her to eat it all. What she doesn’t eat we keep in case she is hungry later.

We made healthy food placemats that they colour as they eat foods from each category, and each colour.

Alyson Schafer: I would keep up the exposure. Exposure does not mean putting it on your tongue and tasting it. Serve a variety of different foods and thank them for taking the polite bite. Thank them for their bravery in trying something new. Try not to talk so much about food at the table. Breaking bread and being social is what mealtime should be about.

Marci Kidney: It is best to serve snack-sized pieces and put together a fruit and veggie tray. Get creative by simply mixing it in a way that all the colours stand out.

Kathy Zaremba: We made healthy food placemats that they colour as they eat foods from each category, and each colour. They wanted to complete their placemats each day.

What are the best ways to deal with drawn-out bedtime routines?

Marci Kidney: We try to bathe every single night, and just leave out the soap most days. The warm water and soothing feeling contribute to calm and relaxing feelings.

Alyson Schafer: When the story is over and the alarm goes ding, that’s it, bedtime. That is all the time we have for stories.

Nanny Robina: Let your toddler know prior what is going down at bedtime and stick to it. We will read two books and then its sleep time. Stick with it and see it through.

Kim Booth: Wine. Lots of wine. 😂

The toddler years are challenging for even the most seasoned parent, but just because they are tough doesn’t mean they aren’t fun. Check out the PLN blog for more advice on toddlerhood as well as Alyson Schafer’s latest book, Ain’t Misbehavin’, which offers a quick index to 150 common parenting perils. Nanny Robina is available for private and group consultations.

Melissa Robertson

Melissa Robertson

Melissa Robertson divides her time between writing her for the Parent Life Network and wrangling her three children that have lovingly helped her earn the title 'hot mess mom'.