Dads Get Real About Raising Toddlers –
You’re entering a wild world of wonder and joy. Spanning from ages 12 months to 36 months, the toddler years include some of the most important mental, emotional, and social developments for your child. They really need you during these years and won’t want to miss this time of growth. You will still have questions and uncertainties but hopefully, you’ve started to trust your instincts as a dad and know that you are a great parent.
“While we were expecting our first baby, we read all the baby books, and took the childbirth classes, but we were excited to create our own parenting style—not our parent’s or what our friends were doing, but ours,” said Dave, a local dad of two.
Hopefully you and your partner have also spent the last 12 months getting into the groove of your parenting style. You will find that a team approach to your toddler is often helpful. At times it can be a roller coaster of emotions, with your toddler going from tears and tantrums to hugs and laughter within moments. Make sure to keep those lines of communication with your partner open so you can create a nurturing environment for your child and each other.
Your toddler is a sponge. They are learning at rapid speed, so be sure to show them the way. Everything you do and say is being watched and repeated so stay calm, be patient, and stay positive
When you’re with your child, be with your child. Put your phone down and catch up on work later. Engaging in the moment is what it’s all about. And that’s when the teaching and learning occurs. Don’t be surprised when you end up learning something from your toddler.
Find your Tribe
You know what? It does take a village to raise a child. There is a lot to balance between parenting, relationships, friendships, jobs, family, finances, your home. The more you can find support in other parents and friends the better. Whether it be your church, local club, childcare group, or just like minded folks in similar life stages, having support can turn trying tears into laughter before you know it.
Some toddlers seems to go through a phase where they prefer one parent over the other. Many times, that preferred parent is “mommy.” It’s hard not to take it personally or start to feel rejected when you go in your toddler’s room in the morning with a smile, excited to see her, and she shouts, “No! Mommy.” Once again, this is where a team approach and creating parental equality can have a benefit. Try not to take it personally, be deliberate in spending one-on-one time with your toddler. If this mommy preference is getting to you (or mom) pick a daily routine and own it. Perhaps, you spend more time with your child at bedtime. Or start a fun activity, like an evening walk, where it’s just the two of you. Find something you both will look forward to.
For toddlers (and parents) consistency is important. Make sure mom and dad are on the same page when it comes to your toddler’s routine (mealtime, naps, bedtime, playtime, etc.). Having a routine can help create a safe and secure environment for your toddler. They learn what is expected and learn to follow your rules. The same goes for discipline; decide together, how you plan to approach your toddler and their behavior. This way, your toddler will understand quickly that mom and dad are in charge, regardless of who is cooking dinner or tucking in for the night.
Enjoy your BF
In those moments when it feels like too much, or you are exhausted, Embrace the hanging-out aspect of having a toddler. Now is the time when your toddler wants to be with you 24/7. They are your number one fan and think you’re the greatest! Your toddler will no doubt start to have a vivid imagination too, so have fun and play along with their games and toys, and if they want you to hop around like a bunny, go for it!
An active and present dad has a direct and positive effect on his toddler. The earlier you can get involved in your child’s life, even during pregnancy, the more constant that relationship will remain.