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  1. Thanks for the encouragement! I’m glad I found this article (made me cry) because my twins (one boy/one girl) are wearing me down. They are two and it has been an exhaustive two months. Structure has been something I have strived at and right now…I need grace…

    1. I also have twins 2.5 years old boys, and I’m soo exhausted. Glad to have found this article. May God give strength to all momma’s of toddlers.

  2. I can’t tell you how much I needed this post today. I came across it on Pinterest and I cried while reading it. I have a 20 month old little boy, who has really been testing me lately. He’s very good when we’re out and about. In fact, I frequently get complimented on how well he behaves. However, when we are at home, just the two of us, he is just impossible. One of my biggest challenges right now is teaching him how to treat our 2 dogs. Thankfully, I have wonderful dogs who tolerate A LOT. He can be very sweet to them and kisses and hugs them, but he tends to not know when they’ve had enough even if I’m telling him that he was good giving them hugs and kisses, but now they’ve had enough. He also loves to make them run which would be fine if making them run didn’t involve running dump trucks over them.

    1. I feel the same, I cried. Sometimes I feel like a failure but I’m trying. It’s just me and my daughter, she’s clinging, seems like I tell her no more and more everyday. She acts like she will do it one way or another. Thanks for posting your comment

  3. Over the years I have lost my faithfulness in god, but when I hear people like you spread messages of “love” it really reminds me of the joyfulness and virtuous side of religion- so thank you for that. reading your blog has been truly refreshing!! I have a VERY smart, and consequently very mischievous independent little 28 month old old and a VERY demanding and emotionally exhausting 11 month old right on her heels. Searching for the positivity in all the chaos makes a world of difference. Even just a “can do” attitude with whatever parenting style you choose- they respond very well to confident instructions. I notice when I respond the the “catalyst” I.e. a whole roll of toilet paper jammed in the toilet with hast and malice- she repeats that negative behavior ten fold. I strive to be a positive nurturing mom who doesn’t need to raise her voice or use aggression and fear to parent. Thank you for helping me on my journey! You’re an inspiration 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for this! My son is 2.5. Until 3 weeks ago he was a perfect napper (3 hour nap at 1PM every day for over a year). Then he stopped. Every day has been a trial since then, and I needed this encouragement so very badly! Your ideas sound outright brilliant, things I never would have thought of because they’re so different from how you parent older kids.
    When you mentioned how you don’t obey the first time either, an enormous metaphorical light bulb exploded in my head! and your explanation for giving them time in an enclosed space rocked my world. I’d always thought he needed more outside time to run around, but your argument for also including time in a small place was so perfectly logical I can’t believe it never occurred to me. Plus, that means I can take a decent shower! (you know, the kind where you actually wash AND condition your hair!)
    But when you said I won’t totally screw him up because God’s love will fill in the gaps of my failure, my heart just broke. Nothing could be more encouraging, more uplifting, nor more hopeful than being reminded that God is ultimately parenting my child. I am only a tool, and that is absolutely freeing.
    Thank you so much.

  5. Amazing how posts like this can be found just when you need it most. I am currently 22 weeks preggers with kiddo # 2, our daughter is 27 months old and lately she has been acting out terribly to the point that I’ve actually become an ugly mommy and have hated the way I am around her. Hubby and I were at each others throats last night in terms of disciplining her and we’ve both realised our respective approaches haven’t been working too well. I’ve now printed this blog post and I’m going to read it with him tonight. Such simple and logical ideas which I can see working. At least I hope they will, don’t think I can handle a tantrum-y toddler plus a new born 🙂 Really great read and much appreciated

  6. Thank you! I have a 2.5 yo and 4 month old. My toddler was always so compliant before our second darter was born. Now I find myself always full of anger and empty of patience. My older daughter knows there has been a change and has to share my time, attention, and energy, so she gets it however she can. Usually a negative response. I find myself begging for forgiveness nightly when the girls are in bed and apologizing to my toddler often for losing my patience, very humbling.

  7. This article is beautifully written and provides some great ideas to use during these trying years! I just wanted to add that after talking with a good friend of mine who is a child psychologist, he warned me on the repercussions of using a high chair or bed as a time away spot! He mentioned you should never make a child feel trapped which can create fear and anxiety. A bed should be a calm soothing place for a child to feel safe and secure to sleep. Even adults are supposed to only use beds as a place to sleep and….well you know :). Negative association with a bed creates sleep problems. The same is true for a high chair, it should be used in a positive manner to ensure happyand healthy eating habits

    1. (It posted before I finished) His suggestion was to purchase a bean bag, special comfy chair or even a small child size tent. Put a basket with a calm down jar, blanket and a stress ball and put the child in this spot as a calm down area away from everyone else. When the are calm and feel they are ready to rejoin the activity they may do so. By following this procedure you are allowing the child to feel in control…which is often why most battles occur and teaching self regulation! You will find that at first your child will not stay there…this will be very trying for a day or two…just keep taking him or her back and say you may come back when you are calm the first time, then say nothing each time after that. They will eventually stay there…just be her consistent. You might be surprised that after a few days some children learn to go to the calm down spot on their own!! I’m really excited yo implement some of the wonderful ideas here. Thanks for a great post!

  8. I found your post at just the right moment. Lying in bed feeling utterly drained nd such a failure…. I have a 2 and 6 year old. Always fighting and never listening. Typical siblings and because im a “work at home mom” my voice usually isnttheard unless im yelling 🙁 your ideas are awesome an i plan on using them… all of them! I do have a question for you…. i keep children in my home and recently ive been catching the little boy (5) playing with himself. I know this is completly normal behavior….espfor a boy BUT im not entirley happy with the way his mom tolddm she handles thus at home. When i told her about it she said she has gad a conversation with himabiut ut and has told him that he can only do that in private in his room with the door shut. I am really struggling with this. I dont have boys but i really feel like i wouldnt tell my 5 year old that thats ok to do just shut the door….. :/ im looking for a christian opinion on this from a mother with a son.

    1. So sorry for all the mistypes! Been a long day and im using the nook…. not very good at this:)

  9. We taught my 2-year-old to say “yes mommy/daddy” when we give him an instruction, and when he remembers to do it by himself, it’s one of the cutest things he does. We praise him and give him big smiles when he remembers to do it himself, and he beams.

    And I read something really interesting about tantrums recently. I don’t have the link, but I bet a Google search would find it. It was an article about what scientists learned about tantrums (and what many parents and teachers most likely already know!): Tantrums have distinct phases. Phase one is anger, and there’s not much (constructive, at least) an adult can do to stop the fit at this point, other than be sure the child isn’t hurting himself or anything/anyone else. The second phase is sadness, and this is the phase where the parent can step in quickly and comfort the sad child. Most children are not in a “teaching moment” when they are angry, but they are more likely to actually hear and listen when they are being comforted by a gentle, firm, loving parent after their anger has passed.

    We use this in my house by having time outs in cribs when a toddler has lost touch with sanity. This gives them a safe place to deal with their anger, and mom or dad asks them if they are ready to do the correct behavior: show their sibling nice hands after hitting, use a nice voice after yelling in anger, or picking up a toy that was thrown. If they’re not ready, they say no, and spend a few more moments being angry. After a few mom/dad check-ins, they say yes, and easily and happily “do what they are supposed to do” without having an attitude. This lets them be in charge of themselves, and do the right thing when they are ready to have a good attitude about it. Every kid is different, but this is what works for us so far!

  10. Omg, that’s totally where i am now! 3 1/2, 13 mo, and due in 2 1/2 mo…I am at my wits end. My 3 yr old has really increased her defiance lately, and little man shreaks/screams for EVERYTHING. I’m mentally exhausted.

    I’m all for room/crib time. But my son doesn’t talk yet so I’m not sure how to gauge how much he’s understanding.

  11. I’m so thankful the Lord set me “stumble” upon your site. I’m in my early 40’s. My husband and I weren’t able to have children and felt led to be foster parents. To put a very long story short, we now have four children ages 1, 2, 3, and 4 (sibling group). When went from zero to four children in less than a year. We’ve now had the oldest three for 2 years now; the youngest came to us straight from the hospital. We hope to adopt them, but it’s looking more apparent they will go back to their mother.

    Up until this month, my husband and I both worked full-time; I am now staying home full-time (having two full-time “jobs” was killing me). I knew the adjustment would be a process, especially for the kids since they have been in a wonderful daycare the last two years. But I’m having a hard time figuring out a good schedule that works for all of them, especially since the 4 year old easily becomes bored. Living in Oklahoma, July/August are HOT, so outside isn’t always an option. Anyway, I’ve been feeling almost overwhelmed and feeling like the biggest screw up of a parent in the world. The Lord has used your words to calm my spirits a bit. Thank you.

  12. Hi, thank you for this post! I’m a daycare provider of infants, toddlers, and a preschooler. Lately the toddlers have been driving me bonkers! The older one (18 months) is being sneaky waiting for me to turn my back and then she does something I just told her not to do. She tackles the other toddler (17 months) from behind and when he’s on the floor she tries to bite his back if I don’t pull her off first! Or she’ll climb on things I repeatedly told her not to, redirect her and show her what she can climb on (the playhouse), but she keeps doing what I’ve told her not to climb on and then she gets hurt but continues to do it! Or they’ll both sneak into the lockers (which they know is a no-no) or the bathroom to pull out diapers from the cabinet and I constantly tell them to stay out and redirect them either by giving them stuff to play with, taking a walk, timeout or finally naptime! I know they learn from consistency and repetition, but how to I get them to mind and behave? I’ve tried smiling and telling them in a nice voice but I get so frustrated. I’ve tried the highchair and the playpen but she tries to climb out of the highchair! I tell them over and over we can’t do _______ because they’ll get hurt or it’s not nice… but they can do _______ and I don’t think they’re being teachable. That’s something I keep praying is that they’ll be teachable and I’ll have wisdom, but my love tank is depleting!

  13. Your 1st two paragraphs are my life story. I can totally relate to this and am so happy to find another mama who “gets” it! THANK YOU.

  14. I agree with most of your comments. In my life, I turn to the Lord to be guided on how to be a mom. It is important to understand that we need to take into consideration that every child is different. Our oldest one is very verbal. She needs to talk and be explained things. But the youngest one needs to be told what to do because she becomes a brat if you let her out of control.

    I have a concern with the “Yes mom” thing. I want to make sure that my daughters can say no to someone who might want to do them harm. I believe that teaching critical thinking instead of blind obedience is critical in the world we leave in.

  15. I found your post much later than everyone else but I needed it so badly today. I’m an adoptive mom and a foster mom of 3 siblings: almost 3, almost 2, and 8 months (they’re all 13 months apart). I struggle so greatly with my insecurities about parenting them the right way and “making up” for the deficiencies of their biology. I constantly feel like I’m losing the battle.

    They used to sleep very well but now it’s summertime in the northern mountains and they’ve decided they don’t need to sleep at all. I can’t keep up with them. I’m tense and angry and tired. It’s hours of fighting them to go to sleep. Hours of fighting them for naps. Dread when I hear their cries in the morning. I try to be a fun mom but it just ends up being more work and more stress for me. I don’t know how to love them like I should.

    A friend pointed out to me recently that 3 years ago, I was crying because I didn’t have any babies. Now I’m crying because I have too many.

    1. Oh friend, I’m praying for the challenges you face! Parenting those little so close to together is hard! Mine are almost that close, so I get it. These days will be exhausting and no doubt they will bring tears. But with God’s strength, you will indeed get through it. And sometimes you’ll even miss it. Keep being as consistent as you can and stay on your knees!

  16. Hi Kim, wondering if you have any advice for talking back? I have a usually very sweet and very helpful just turned 4 year old girl, but running into some problems with disrespect and backtalk. Usually it happens when she gets frustrated at something (it can be anything-as simple as the fact that we are going home after pre-k and not somewhere “Fun”, or her getting upset that I disciplined the dog for running in the road), or I have told her “No” to something, and she has either told me “I don’t like you” etc in a very nasty voice and mean looks. I tend to just have her go in her room because when she gets in one of those moods she can usually go cool off there and after her “timeout” is usually fine the rest of the day. These are def. more frequent since starting pre-k, we hadn’t really had to use a timeout except very rarely all summer, now I would say maybe 3 a week at least. Then I go in and have her tell me what she did that wasn’t ok, and say sorry and re-explain to her about being kind to each other and using kind words, etc. What else would be a logical consequence?? Thanks!!

    1. My first thought would be that I would be sure and tell her that it is rude and disrespectful to talk to an adult that way. It’s unkind to talk to another kid that way. There is a slight difference. I think this is important to point out because sometimes children don’t understand the difference. Neither is ok, for sure. But it’s is absolutely disrespectful to talk to an adult that way.

      As far as consequences go, a time out isn’t far off from being logical for this. You might just say, “since you can not treat me with respect, you will not be able to be with me.” I would also note that if this is happening when she comes home from preschool, she might really need a little time alone to unwind. Some kids are like that. A few other options might be to have her say 5 kind things every time she says something unkind. However, at 4, that will be difficult for her to think of on her own. You’ll probably have to tell her kind things that she could say. I have also on rare occasion flicked the cheek of a youngster that couldn’t control their words. I don’t do it hard- the goal isn’t to hurt the child. Just enough for them to stop and think about what they are saying (this works well with a child who is throwing a fit in public).

      Be encouraged my friend, it gets a little easier to talk about these things. In the next year, you will see a big difference!

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  18. I have trouble finding consequences to give my 3 year old. He either doesn’t seem to care about any consequences I give or if he does then he just screams and throws things and bangs all over the house. I have tried putting him in his room and told him if he is yelling and screaming he is to be in his room (and accepted to myself that he will throw things in and bang around his room) but he either won’t stay in his room or will open and slam the door repeatedly. I try to walk away from the tantrum and ignore it. I hope this is the right thing to do. He often will follow me down the stairs refusing to be in his room. He wants control. I have gotten a lot better at not reacting and being consistent but I just feel like I am walking on eggshells with him all day long and I am tired of saying the same thing hundreds of times and fighting with him every step of the day. How do you deal with outright defiance and rudeness especially when not at home? Meal time especially is a battle. For one, stopping to wash hands and sit and eat interrupts what he wants to be doing and even if he’s on board with eating he gets out of his chair repeatedly or plays with his hands or utensils resulting in an hour long dinner time most days. I have a rule if he gets out of his chair I will take the plate away but this is a daily battle. I want him to eat enough and not waste food. He can be the most pleasant person to be around or he can just be outright rude and defiant to everyone around him. Any suggestions are appreciated.

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  20. I have 3 children now 4, 3 and 19 months. All three of my children are very different. My oldest is by far my best behaved, but she is the most logical. When she does something I can reason with her and explain why we don’t do something. She’s been like this since she was about 18 months. My second is my problem child, the wild child. People tell me it’s normal with boys.

    One of the things I’ve learned so far is consistency is very important. If you set a house rule follow it no matter what. If the rule breaker did something accidently, it still needs to be addressed, even if only to explain why they are not getting punished this time. It keeps them from getting confused. Another thing I do when talking to my toddler about their acrions is to be face to face. I crouch down to their level and insist they look me at me. If they refuse, then I come back when they are ready to listen. Next I make them repeat what I say, to the best of their ability. I keep it simple, “no hitting. OK.” She needs repeat no hitting and say to say, “OK, mommy.” it helps improve their speech, so double bonus!

  21. Thanks Kim for mentioning the Mom’s Notes. We a couple that are good for parents of toddlers, The 2-part “Structuring Your Child’s Day” and “Training Toddlers”. They are available on MP3, PDF, CD and Notes now. We are glad we have been a helpful resource to you!

    1. I should have re-read this. Sorry! The second sentence should say There are a couple Mom’s Notes presentations that are good for parents of toddlers.

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