You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘Monkey see, monkey do’; it’s the perfect way to approach parenting young children.
You can tell them something until you’re blue in the face, but the best habits and behaviours are based on what they see their parents doing.
You are their very first and most important role models. Basically, you must show them how to behave.
You will find your parenting efforts will become so much easier, and there’ll be much less frustration if you act in the way you want them to behave.
Here are ten things you should do in front of your toddler:
#1: Show your toddler: Brushing your teeth
If you thought wrangling your toddler to get dressed was worse than having teeth pulled, you’ve probably not tried to brush your toddler’s teeth. Teeth brushing means tight lips, arms and legs flailing everywhere, and bellowing yells of ‘NOOOO’.
The whole idea is to make brushing teeth fun, and sometimes even that doesn’t work. But the very best thing you can do for your children’s oral hygiene is to let them see you take care of your teeth.
They’ll become much more curious and want to be like mama and dad. Make it a daily ritual in the shower together. Remember, though, getting frustrated or forcing the issue will make teeth time something they’ll come to dislike.
When Do You Start Brushing Baby Teeth? has more information.
#2: Show your toddler: Saying sorry
Want your toddler to grow up and take responsibility for their actions? Then you need to take responsibility for yours now.
There’s no such thing as the perfect parent. Every parent makes mistakes. Parents snap or yell from time to time, but saying sorry can repair your relationship with your child.
If you lose your temper and yell at your toddler, be sure to apologize afterward. Explain that you shouldn’t have shouted and you’re sorry.
Humility is a great gift to impart to your toddler, and it’s easier to teach children when they are younger than when you have a raging teen on your hands.
Find out 6 Surprising Reasons Why Parents Yell At Their Kids so you gain a little more in control of your behavior.
#3: Show your toddler: Making mistakes
Perfection is unachievable most of the time. All you can do is your best. You will mess up and get things wrong, and that’s ok. Instead of trying to hide your mistakes from your child, use them as teaching moments.
Show your child it’s OK to make mistakes. It’s normal, it’s to be expected, and the world doesn’t end. React calmly, and without talking negatively about yourself. And then show the child how you can fix the mistake.
Isn’t that a great way of showing your child how to cope when things don’t go to plan?
The end game here is to teach your child to accept her own mistakes without judgement. And, she’ll know she can come to you without fear of judgement. After all, you’ve made plenty of mistakes yourself.
#4: Show your toddler: Body positivity
If you want your toddlers to grow up to be people who love and appreciate their own body, you need to model this for them now.
Don’t let them hear your inner critic when it comes to your body. Don’t let them see you obsess over the scales. Don’t judge your body harshly in the mirror.
Show your toddler how amazing your body is. Show him the silvery stretch mark reminders of when he lived inside your tummy. Talk to him about how your body nourished him during pregnancy and beyond.
Talk to your toddler about how strong you are. Be mindful of how you talk about your body in front of your child. Focus on the positives and the incredible things your body can do. Show him how good it feels to move and jump and dance.
Be mindful of how you speak to other people about their bodies, too. Don’t tell people they’ve lost weight; instead, focus on how happy they look.
If you need any reminders, be sure to read 5 Reasons Your Body Is Better Now That You’re A Mother.
#5: Show your toddler: Looking after yourself
Show your toddler the importance of looking after yourself.
Go for a walk to get out of the house and clear your head on a bad day. Eat healthy foods so you have enough energy and your body feels good. Spend an hour soaking in the bath and listening to your favorite podcast.
Whatever you do for self-care, make sure your toddler knows you are doing it.
Talk about the importance of taking care of yourself. Ask your toddler about the things she likes to do to feel good.
Need some reminders of what self-care looks like? Check out 6 Small Acts Of Self Care To Avoid Self Destruction.
#6: Show your toddler: Emotional regulation
If you want your toddlers to learn how to regulate their emotions, you need to show them how. It’s not rocket science, is it? It’s easier said than done, that’s for sure.
Emotional regulation is a skill you might need to work at. If you didn’t learn this skill in childhood, you might still struggle with your emotions now.
If you can afford it, therapy can help you to understand your emotions, and how to teach this skill to your child.
Don’t worry if you can’t afford therapy; being more mindful of your feelings and how you express them is a great starting point.
There are some tips on how to teach this important skill in Emotional Regulation – 5 Ways To Teach It To Your Child.
#7: Show your toddler: Singing and dancing….
… like no one is watching. Get down and boogie with your bubba! It’s great fun and good for your health too. Singing and dancing can boost your mood and get you bonding with your toddler.
Don’t worry about looking silly; your toddler won’t judge you. Close the curtains, crank the music up and let yourself go wild.
Your toddler will love the physical play and the sound of the music. You could make this a part of your daily routine or use it as a tool to reset when you or your toddler feel a bit grumpy.
#8: Show your toddler: Conflict resolution
Are you adept at conflict resolution? Do you live in a peaceful, harmonious, and respectful house all of the time? Or do you fall prey to bickering and defensiveness?
There’s no need to be the perfect couple, but you should try to be mindful of how disagreements play out in front of your child. It won’t necessarily be easy, but it will undoubtedly be worthwhile.
Work on your communication skills as a couple, so that you can disagree without falling out. Catch yourself before you respond defensively and instead try to communicate constructively.
Your child will likely learn his conflict type from you, so try to model healthy conflict resolution instead of shouting and shutting down.
#9: Show your toddler: Caring
Make sure your toddler sees you caring for other people. If you see a stranger upset in the street, ask him if he’s ok.
If you walk past a homeless person, offer to buy her a drink or something to eat from a nearby cafe.
If you’re buying flowers for a friend going through a hard time, tell your toddler why you’re doing it.
Children learn by watching what we do, so the more often they see you being caring, the more likely they are to take on that trait themselves.
#10: Show your toddler: Reading
If you want your children to love reading, you should show them how much you value it. Children don’t often see adults reading books. We usually read when they’re tucked up fast asleep in bed.
Don’t feel guilty about reading in front of your child. If she’s distracted with a toy or happily playing by herself, it’s ok for you to read a short chapter of a book.
A toddler will notice what you are doing, and see that books are something to be enjoyed – even for grown-ups.
Taking time out to read will also show your toddler the importance of downtime.
As parents, we can easily get caught up in doing things. We rush from laundry and cleaning to making dinner, and dash from the shops to playgroups, but it’s essential to teach our kids it’s important to slow down, too.