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Positive Parenting for Toddlers


parents with toddler girl pointing at camera


Parenting a toddler isn't always easy; every year brings new joys and challenges. Your toddler is naturally curious and eager to explore - while you may still be learning how to set limits.

Here's some advice to help keep parenting positive.

Toddlers need playful, supportive opportunities to learn about the world and how to express themselves. Encourage your toddler by providing a loving, secure and nurturing environment that includes limits and positive discipline. 

Provide Comfort

  • If your toddler is sick, hurt, or lonely - reassure, rock or hold her. 
  • Be responsive, sensitive and available as much as you can.

Respond and Notice

  • Telling children what you want is more effective than telling them what you don't want.
  • Divert your toddler from potentially harmful or dangerous situations by providing something more acceptable to play with.
  • Find activities you both enjoy. Spend time talking with and listening to your toddler. 
  • Read stories, go for walks and play games together. 
  • Show interest in your toddler's activities and spend lots of one on one time together. Your toddler loves spending time with you.

Provide a Sense of Trust

  • Keep your home and environment as safe as possible to allow your toddler more freedom to explore. 
  • Protect his independence when your toddler learns to walk, he may walk a short distance away from you, but make sure you remain nearby so your toddler can return to you.

Review and Re-enact Experiences

  • Talk with your toddler about things that have happened in her life. As she gets older, tell your toddler stories about when she was small. 
  • Show your toddler photos of when she was younger, and answer any questions she may have. These memories can give your toddler a sense of her past and create a feeling of security. 
  • If your toddler goes through a difficult event, talk about it. Review it, play it out, and discuss it when your toddler is willing and able to do so. Events such as the birth of a sibling or a friend leaving town, are important and it helps to talk about them.

Create Warm Memories

  • Make a photo album and look at it with your toddler. 
  • Maintain a collection of his crafts and artwork. 
  • Make videos and keep a record of special events. 
  • Establish family traditions; they help your toddler feel secure and able to look forward to things. 

Provide a Sense of Security

  • Being away from your toddler once in a while will help her sense of attachment, but these separations must be handled well. 
  • When leaving your toddler with someone else set up a goodbye ritual and leave with confidence. Provide your toddler with some things to do while you are away. 
  • Give your toddler a photo of yourself, a security blanket, or familiar toys. Let him know when you will return, and make sure to come back on time. 
  • If your toddler is very upset about being away from you, try to do it gradually. Remain present during part of the first few days.
  • Talk about feelings and naming emotions so your toddler can start to understand her own feelings and make her needs known.

Be Predictable and Positive

  • Being as predictable as you can will provide your toddler with an additional sense of security. 
  • Keep to a routine for meals, bedtime, and so on. 
  • Set clear rules and follow through on them. 
  • Give your toddler a few minutes' notice before leaving or changing activities.
  • Always comfort and soothe your toddler if he is sick, hurt, or upset.

The above information is adatped from the AboutKidsHealth website. AboutKidsHealth provides trusted answers to questions asked by families.

Resources & Links:
Effective Parenting and Disciplining Children

Last Updated: August 14, 2013