There are lots of false rumours about toddlers. They are so misunderstood. Toddlers are stereotyped as tiny tyrants who cause trouble for fun.
I mean, sure, they do that some of the time, but it’s certainly not their full-time job.
Toddlers are unpredictable, wild, beautiful creatures.
They can fill your heart with love and drive you crazy all at the same time.
They are still tiny enough to get away with things, but are developed enough to know their own mind – and this is a good thing, until you try to leave the house in a hurry.
7 False Rumours About Toddlers
There are plenty of false rumours about toddlers. And plenty of opinions about how best to parent them.
In fact, as soon as you have a toddler, you will discover every person you’ve ever met is an expert on all things toddler, and they know exactly what your toddler needs at any given time.
Unfortunately, a lot of these people talk nonsense. In fact, they are probably telling you old wives’ tales.
To help you ignore the nonsense, here are 7 totally untrue things people say about toddlers:
#1: You Need Pinterest To Entertain Them
Nope, that doesn’t mean there are benches of toddlers, sitting in otherwise empty playgrounds, busily adding things to their Pinterest accounts. But you could be forgiven for thinking toddlers require a lot of effort to keep them entertained.
Social media is full of helpful suggestions: you could make your own moon sand, you could dye some spaghetti pink, you could freeze some toy dinosaurs, or you could, well, you could do it all really, couldn’t you? If you wanted to. But the important thing is you don’t need to.
Your toddlers won’t suffer or remember a childhood of neglect if you’re not a Pinterest mum. Really. They’ll grow up just fine anyway.
#2: Toddlers Are Naughty
This idea of naughty or ‘bad’ toddlers is very unfair and makes parenting more difficult. Parenting a toddler isn’t easy. There are lots of big emotions and daily struggles that need to be carefully navigated together.
And sometimes there will be tantrums. Tantrums are hard enough to deal with without the entire supermarket queue looking at you both with disdain. Your toddler is not naughty, and she isn’t a bad kid. She’s just going through the perfectly normal stage of toddlerhood.
This stage will be a lot easier to get through if you can respond with empathy and understanding. Your life would also be a lot easier if those around you could do the same.
#3: They Don’t Understand
It’s hard to remember to think before you speak when you’re within earshot of toddlers. You might think because they’re playing happily or momentarily distracted, they’re not paying attention to what you’re saying.
But any parent who has accidentally stepped on a plastic toy will tell you just how quickly toddlers can pick up new swear words.
They’re listening and learning all the time. When you talk about them as if they’re not there, they hear you. They hear the way you speak about them and the things you say.
Your friends might know you’re kidding when you make jokes about your toddler, but your toddler won’t. Instead, she will hear you say her drawings are rubbish and she’s hard work and you hate playing shops with her.
#4: They Need To Go To Childcare
It’s accepted in many Western countries that toddlers spend time at childcare to give them a chance to socialise with other children, and so parents can go back to work.
In fact, this is often used as a way of shaming stay at home parents. Childcare is incredibly important for those who need or want to work, and who don’t have family nearby to help out, but it’s not going to teach your toddlers any social skills they can’t learn with you.
Your toddler learns social skills by observing and mimicking the way you interact with society, so you don’t need to worry your child is missing out by not attending nursery.
#5: Toddlers Need Their Independence
Toddlers are beginning to explore their independence. They are doing it safely, and staying close to you so they don’t feel overwhelmed. They might insist on getting themselves dressed, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need you anymore. They might disappear as soon as you walk into playgroup, but they will regularly look round to check you’re still there.
Toddlers go through stages – being clingy, wanting to be held, or wanting your help with everything. This is totally normal and is often a way for them to reconnect with you to feel safe. Unhelpful comments from other people might leave you worrying whether your toddler is going to be dependent on you forever.
That won’t happen. Don’t rush things. Just continue to be a safe, loving and trustworthy person, always there to help your child work towards independence.
#6: Toddlers Should Be Sleeping Through The Night
Not true. Not all toddlers sleep through the night. There is no magical age by which your child will definitely be sleeping through the night. I’m sorry, I know you wanted to start a countdown, but the truth is that all toddlers are different and yours will sleep through when she’s ready.
Some babies sleep through the night, and some toddlers sleep through the night. Some don’t. Some primary school aged children don’t even sleep through the night.
Just because your child is a toddler now, doesn’t mean she’s suddenly going to turn into the world’s best sleeper. One day though, you will manage a full night’s sleep, I promise. You hang in there.
#7: Breastmilk Is No Good For Them
We are repeatedly told ‘breast is best’ for babies, but there’s not much support for women who choose to breastfeed past infancy.
In fact, many people mistakenly believe that breastfeeding holds little value after the first six months of life.
There are plenty of benefits of breastfeeding a toddler and breastmilk actually changes as infants grow, to ensure they get the nutrients they need. For example, breastmilk contains more fat after the first year of life, when fat plays an important role in brain development.
The Countdown To The Third Birthday
‘The terrible twos’ is a very misleading name for a period that can actually last a lot longer than a year. There is no magical off-switch that appears on a child’s third birthday, and you don’t suddenly become an expert in the cool handling of a tantrum-throwing child.
It can sometimes feel as though society has put a maximum age limit on toddler behaviour, and if your child looks too old to act that way, you might experience disapproving looks from complete strangers. Don’t worry. Being a toddler doesn’t get easier at three.
Your child is still fighting for her independence, she’s still struggling to find the right words, and she’s still learning how to deal with those big emotions. All this means you should expect the odd tantrum and tricky situation from time to time.
Parenting isn’t easy, but neither is being a toddler.