Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Toddlers & Routine!!

I'm going to express my opinion here as a parent and a child care giver, some may say this doesn't work with their child, but honestly I have to ask if you haven't given up a little too soon, or given up at the first sign of a tantrum. Research has proven that babies and toddlers that have routine in their lives are happier, less cranky children. Why is this? Because babies and toddler who are subject to whatever an adult throws their way can be insecure in their environment, but if you have a set time or set routine for things with your child every day, you start to eliminate the fussies, the "I'm tireds" or "I'm hungry" tantrums. Why is a routine so important?  Because a set routine trains your child's body and mind to be hungry and tired at a certain time. They will know what to expect.

This may sound complicated for many, but really doing this is supposed to un-complicate things. I've worked with a few parents who say " Oh when he's tired he'll let you know, he'll start to get cranky". HELLO??!! Is that really the way you want to communicate with your child? Wait for them to get cranky before you do something about their needs? I mean seriously, if you had to whine and whine for food or drink before someone gave it to you, would you feel like that environment was secure for you to live in? No, you wouldn't.

If you do not have a set snack, nap, feeding time for your infant or child, most likely your child is running the show. And that isn't the way it should be.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. Our mornings are a little less structured, but always starts off with breakfast and lots of play time. Every day my child gets lunch between 12 and 12:30, then nap time starts at 1pm. Nap time includes, story time right before being tucked in. It gets the toddlers and babies alike ready for the transition between eating and running around and playing. They are learning during story time to wind down and get their bodies ready for a nap.

Many parents have problems with their toddlers staying in their beds or fighting nap time. Here's what I say to that, I have a very very stubborn two year old who loves to think of every excuse not to do what you ask him to do. He can be creative too.  But if you are giving up on the scheduled nap times, or waiting for your toddler to crash on his own, you aren't doing yourself any favors. Say your child crashes at 5pm because he threw a fit at nap time and you gave in and let him watch a movie instead. Well now your 5pm nap time, has moved his morning wake up time to 3am!! "HI MOM AND DAD!"  Isn't it worth it to take the extra effort to lay down the law, let your child throw his tantrum, but enforce the rules of scheduled nap times? I think it is. My child is a consistent 6:15am waker. I can set an alarm to him, why? Because he's on a schedule.

Does this mean that I might not have some running around to do one day that might push lunch or nap time back a bit? Of course not, things happen, you have stuff to do, appointments, things that might conflict, but once your child has adapted to this routine, its easier to throw off the schedule a little, but as long as you stick to the routine once you get home, you should have a happy toddler.

So I ask you:

If you get a tantrum every time you say, "Ok nap time!" instead of a kid excited to go up and read stories with mommy or daddy and excited to get in his bed because his body is trained to be tired at a certain time, then you may need this bit of advice.

If your child is on a schedule in his day care and your day care providers have no problem with tantrums, then you might want to think about coordinating the same routine at home on the weekends if you are getting a cranky toddler.

I say this because I have had so many parents ask me how I handle this child care thing without getting burnt out. When parents pick up their kids and ask "Oh I bet he was horrible going down for a nap or eating today huh?" And I say no, they look at me like I'm some child whisperer. I'm not, its exactly what any day care or child care provider should do for your child. Its setting up secure boundaries and babies and toddlers love boundaries, it makes them feel safe.

If you are afraid to let your toddler throw a tantrum, I have to ask, who does it hurt? So they are screaming and yelling because you told them to stay in their bed because its nap time, and he's crawled out of bed and is throwing a tantrum on the floor. That's fine, let him throw a tantrum. Shut the door and let him cry. He will either pass out on the floor from his crying, or he'll stop crying. When he stops crying, you walk back in his room and say "ok, now that you are done with your tantrum, its time to get back in bed". If the tantrum persists, repeat above scenario. Don't let your child run the show. You are the parent. It takes 13 to 14 days to establish a routine, sometimes a lot longer for older toddlers who have never had a routine.  Day 1 will be horrible, Day 2 might be worse than Day 1 because they remember day 1 where they didn't get their way, Day 3 will be better, Day 4, there will be less kicking and screaming, Day 5 you might just have a child ready and willing to take that nap and so on and so forth, by two weeks of this, you should have a pretty cooperative toddler.

This doesn't eliminate the terrible twos, but it does help eliminate un-necessary crankiness. You can establish any routine that works for you, your baby and family even with a newborn and my advice is to do it as early in infancy as possible.

Please Please, take my advice, your sanity and your tired body will thank you later on down the road! ;)

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