How To Train Your Dragon. Er, Toddler.

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Image courtesy Shawnna Thompson

Guest post by Shawnna Thompson of That’s Me in the Middle

As a first-time mom of an 18-month-old, I find myself constantly conflicted over which way is the best way to raise my kid. This wasn’t really an issue back in the early days of his life. Back when we merely existed in the realm of “survival mode,” with each day passing in a blur of feed, burp, change, (attempt) sleep, swap out breast pads, repeat. As tough as those early days could be, there was very little to think about in regards to the discipline and education of my new baby.

But the moment Crosby became a toddler, stuff got real, real quick. Now each day brings a new challenge, a new discovery, a new phase, a new gray hair…. And with every teachable moment, I become more and more aware of the responsibility I have to, like, raise a decent human being. So, what’s the solution? What is the magical formula for raising a good kid? What is the right style, the best method, the correct approach?

There are endless theories about the best way to raise your kid… and it can all be so overwhelming. The vast amount of information out there makes me want to hurl myself into a vat of merlot. And I know I can’t be the only one feeling this way. I’ve talked at length with my mom friends about this very topic. So in order to save my fellow parents a great deal of time and energy, I’ve done all the research and come up with the very best way to parent your toddler.

Without further ado, here an easy step-by-step guide to train your toddler.

Don’t ever say “no” to your child, it will only teach them to say it back to you.
But definitely say “no” to your child whenever you need to, it builds character and teaches boundaries.

Speaking of boundaries, it’s best to establish firm rules as early as possible.
But give your child independence, they need their freedom to explore.

Establish the parent/child dynamic right away.  Your child needs to know that you’re the boss, always, otherwise they will become disobedient.
But it’s most important to be their friend, otherwise they will lie about everything for the rest of their lives.

Do point out positive traits in other children, such as sharing and using manners.
But do not ever compare your child to another child, it can cause stress for both you and your child. And it will emotionally scar them for life.

Keep your expectations of your child high, so that they learn to work hard and not to give up.
But also keep your expectations low, so that your child can actually meet them and experience the feeling of pride.
If you keep your expectations somewhere in the middle, your child will be boring. And you don’t want to have a boring child, because no one will like them. Including you.

Don’t fight with your partner in front of your little one, it can cause emotional damage and feelings of instability.
But arguing with your partner in front of your kids is good, because it demonstrates conflict resolution.
But only if you argue with a forced smile on your face.

Feed your child only organic homemade, and ideally homegrown food. No sugar or processed foods otherwise you’re setting them up for a lifetime of obesity.
But you don’t want them to crave sweets and unhealthy foods and get eating disorders later in life, so you should actually give them a good mix of food, no restrictions.

Don’t ever force your child to eat! This can cause mealtime stress and resistance on their part. And pit stains on your part.
But you must make sure that your child is getting at least 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day. If not, they will shrivel up and die. Don’t stress. Be casual!

When you toddler starts to tantrum, get down on their level and talk them through what’s bothering them. This is how they learn to recognize feelings! If you skip this very important step, your child will never know the difference between happy and sad and it will be all your fault.
But whatever you do, do not give your child any attention when they’re throwing a tantrum. You must absolutely ignore them at all costs. This tactic is especially relevant if your child tantrums while at the supermarket. For some reason. In this case, you must always drag them out out of the store kicking and screaming. Just leave your groceries behind, along with your sanity.

Definitely teach your child to share, otherwise they will become a big fat jerk.
But don’t actually force them to share because it undermines their ability to think for themselves.

Make sure your toddler is learning a new word every day, otherwise they will become a slow learner.
But don’t force them to speak before they’re ready, it could stunt their speech.

Introduce the potty as soon as possible! Your child needs to become comfortable with it before using it.
But do not introduce the potty at all until your child shows signs of readiness or they will have bowel issues.

Get excited about potty-training! Always give praise and celebrate the successes!
But DO NOT make a big deal out of the mishaps. In fact, you shouldn’t show any response at all. Potty-training should be serious.

Rewards for good behavior are a great reinforcement for children.
But don’t ever give rewards because then your child is destined to be a spoiled brat.

Any and all screen time is bad.
But educational, time-moderated screen time can be beneficial for building your child’s social skills.
But only if you’re coviewing. And only at certain times of the day. And only if it’s been at least 2 hours since your child last ate.

Don’t overstimulate your child.
But don’t let them get bored.
Both can cause acne.

Be the perfect parent.
But not too perfect, your child needs to see you mess up sometimes.
But not too much.
But not too little either.

So there you have it. You now have all the tools you need to raise the perfect toddler.  It’s easy, right?

This post originally appeared on That’s Me in the Middle and was republished with permission. 

Shawnna Thompson is a wife of a husband, a mama of a toddler guy, and a cuddler of two ridiculous beagles.  At parties, you can usually find her next to the cheese plate. On the internets, you can find her at thatsmeinthemiddle.com.

Ali Wilkinson
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Ali Wilkinson

Online Editor at PDX Parent
Ali Wilkinson is the Online Editor for PDX Parent, and is one of the founders of PDX Kids Calendar. She loves exploring Portland with her three small children, especially when the explorations lead outdoors, to music or to ice cream. You can read more from Ali at www.runknitlove.com.
Ali Wilkinson
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