Try the following tactics to make life with your toddler easier:
Use short sentences and give alternatives to behaviors you don't like. "Instead of saying, 'Play nice,' say, 'We don't hit, we hug,'" says Alan Greene, MD, a pediatrician and member of the clinical faculty at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Watch your tone of voice. "If you're yelling and out of control, your kids will be, too," says Dr. Greene. "You want to be quiet but firm; get down to their level and maintain eye contact." Sometimes lowering your voice is more effective than screaming.
Focus on correcting one behavior at a time. For instance, work on your toddler's yucky habit of spitting for a few weeks, and ignore his dinnertime messes. As soon as you've conquered one problem, move on to the next one.
Make sure your child has plenty of opportunities to be a total toddler. That is, get her outside (or in bad weather, in a room where she can run around like a maniac and shout loudly) at least once a day.
Don't waste your time on battles you won't win. No toddler in the world can be quiet throughout a whole church service. And if she'll only eat peanut butter and jelly for a week, no one will die.
Keep your sense of humor. Someday you'll think it's funny that your child insisted on wearing snow boots to the swimming pool.
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