'Toddler whisperer' says this is what you should do if your child is acting up 3 years ago

'Toddler whisperer' says this is what you should do if your child is acting up

Being the mum of a toddler is a lot of things.

It's exhausting and loud and messy – and also possible the most amazing and fun and love-filled few years of your life.

Dealing with a toddler can, however, sometimes be a little, well, stressful and sanity-testing.

Which is why we happily take on board any advice we can get our hands on when it comes to parenting these mini humans. And when it comes to advice on toddlers, few are better to dish it out than Dr. Tovah Klein, child psychologist, director of Barnard College Center for Toddler Development in the US. As well as this, Klein is also a mother of three boys herself, meaning, of course, this woman is so qualified, she is know as the 'Toddler Whisperer.'

And lucky for us, PureWow recently rounded up her three most valuable lessons when it comes to dealing with toddlers. So the next time you are finding yourself tearing your hair out over some toddler drama, mama, remember these three:


Put yourself in your child’s shoes

“Once you start to observe and understand your toddler, you’ll be able to understand (and sometimes even anticipate) their reactions and concerns. I call this ‘seeing the world through your toddler’s eyes,’ or your Parenting POV (point of view). It’s when we as adults shift our view from seeing the world from an adult perspective to that of a child’s perspective—a shift that can happen immediately or take some time. When this happens we suddenly are in a position to support our children in a way that is clear and much, much easier to carry out. Why is seeing the world from a child’s point of view so important? Because that’s the best way to understand them, to guide them with love and encouragement, and to avoid shaming and controlling them.”

It’s not your kid, it’s his brain

“All of us experience our emotions long before our reasoning kicks in. But for toddlers this difference is even more dramatic. Toddlers often feel the full force of an emotional response without having the ability to rationally ‘think’ their way out of it. Through the toddler years, connections are being made between the higher level of the brain [where executive functioning happens] and the emotional centers. In fact, this is the most important learning and wiring occurring in toddler brain development. But connections take years (many!) to create and become automatic. This network develops over many, many life events. This linking between thinking and emotion happens in the hundreds of small interactions your child has with you and other important people every single day. Every time you comfort your child or walk them through a routine, you are helping form these connections.” Above all, remember: “They really cannot manage intense or negative emotions too well (yet), and stopping themselves from doing something they should not is equally hard at this age.”

So you lost it and snapped at your kids. Here’s what to do next

Klein describes a scenario wherein an exhausted parent yells at or criticizes a child who refuses to put on his shoes (because of course). How to recover? “What’s crucial for parents to see and understand is that during the toddler years, the needs of the child (for autonomy and exploration, coupled with support and comfort) and the needs of the parent (for time for self, or the need for the child to be good) come into constant misalignment…A child in hysterics because you put his boots on for him to get out the door in a timely fashion when he wanted to do it himself (in spite of his dallying and not doing it) can be downright maddening. Sometimes you handle it well; sometimes you don’t. It may sound odd, but the mishap is not the problem, so long as there is a positive reconnection, a repair. The key at times like these—when their needs collide with ours—is how you reconnect with your child. Coming back together again, without blame, lets them know you are here for them, always, even when bad moments happen.”

So there you go, mama. Happy toddler parenting!