3 Easy Tips for Parents of Toddlers (No Helicopter Parents Here, Just Responsible Toddlers!)

Attention busy parents:  Could you use an extra hour each day? Here are three tips to create a responsible toddler and get you more Me Time.  With these easy tips your toddler can do a lot more than you let them, even if you are a Helicopter parent!  They can help around the house.  They can be responsible for themselves.  You do not have to do EVERYTHING.  

When I was single and did not have children, I learned an important life lesson:  You teach people how to treat you. This is true of our children too. If you let them jump all over you or walk all over you or run through stores or scream to get their way you are teaching them how to treat you.  If you enjoy your life as it is, stop reading and move on to this post on Fall Decorating or this one about free 5 minute kitchen makeovers instead.

Maybe you want to do everything for your child?  I am still reeling from drinks out when a gorgeous, lovely young woman I admire actually bragged that she picked out all of her kid's clothes everysingleday.  YIKES.  I told her she might be doing it when he is 40 years old if she doesn't watch it.  

Since this is a post with parenting advice, I will gird my loins now for my little angels to be Rotten for the next week.  The last time I shared how to have nice kids who behave well in nice stores, I paid for it, for sure!  But that is OK.  I fail at many aspects of parenthood and do not think that I have perfect kids or am a perfect parent.  At. All.

Here are the 3 Easy Tips for Parents of Toddlers:

1)  Let them try and fail.
Your kids will never learn how to do something well if you do not give them many chances to learn how. Yes, You do it betterfastertherightway.  Let them learn how to do it just like you did.  The wrong way, their way, and then the right way.  Check out the bed making Pinterest post below for encouragement.

2) Let them clean up their own mess.
I do not wipe up spills, potty accidents or toy tornadoes.  If my kids get it out, they put it back.  If they spill it, they get the cleaners out and clean it up.  They are lovingly taught by my hubby and I that they CAN DO IT!  And that they are RESPONSIBLE FOR IT!  In our house,  toys left out mean "I am tired of taking care of these, can we please donate them to Goodwill?"  We use the Love and Logic Parenting Book lingo too, "You only have to clean up the toys you want to keep." Of course there are days when I do tidy up.  And I often do a second "Real' clean after theirs.  But as a house rule, this stands and it is AWESOME how proud of themselves and what they can accomplish these little girls are.

3) Find simple short reminders for them.
Our girls know what is expected of them.  We use the same language, AKA 'Talking Points' so the message is consistent.  "If you bring it, you carry it" "I didn't get the toys out, I don't clean them up!"  "If you are tired of taking care of that, we can give it to someone who needs one and wants to take care of it."  "You made the mess, you can do a good job of cleaning it up!" and Love & Logic again;  "I will help you when you are working harder than I am."

My girls are 2.5 and 4.5 years old, to give you perspective.  With that in mind, here are some things your toddler could be/may already be doing:  
  • Dressing themselves (Selecting outfit, putting dirty clothes in the laundry and putting lightly used pjs back in the correct drawer.)
  • Making their bed (allow imperfection and do not correct.  LOVED this Pinterest Post.)  I started my 4y.o. on this MOST mornings and the 2.5 y.o. wanted to do it too!
  • Helping set the table, clear the table and load/unload the dishwasher with help. p.s. We use breakable dishes, and I am the only one so far who has broken anything!
  • Picking up and putting away their own toys.  Also carrying their own stuff when we go places.  They bring ONE toy along and it usually stays in the stroller/bike trailer/car when we are out and about.
  • Going potty and washing their hands mostly on their own.
  • Eating nicely with adults.  Decent manners, fairly neatly, limited playing "messing around" at least when coached.  We ask them to stay at the table until the meal is finished most of the time.  They have eaten meals with us from babyhood, which helps.  We don't allow grazing through meals: eat or do not eat, no problem, but the meal is served and then the meal is over.

Discipline is hard to do all day every day.  It is so HARD, people!  But. It works. We love the "Love & Logic" techniques.  You can find more information here. We took a few classes, I read some books, watched some videos.  I post note cards around the house with teaching reminders for myself.  

Sometimes my kids do jump on the couch.  Sometimes I feed them tic tacs to keep them acting sweet.  Sometimes I apologize to them for my yelling or overreacting to their behavior.  We often pray together (or they 'prayer' for me) and ask God to help us all be patient and sweet.  Some days I just turn on the TV or let them shred the newspaper all over the living room while I spend an hour on Facebook.  I'm NOT a perfect mama...but I am working hard to be a good one most days.  And I want my girls to grow into responsible adults who can take care of themselves.  And I do not want them to live with me when they are grown.  Do you?

I'm sure you can all share other fabu tricks your kids do, I would like to hear from you!  

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I have a talk called "Life (with toddler) Rules" you can see a teaser for here. I have learned most things I know about parenting from my mistakes.  Painful mistakes.  Then I  share them with you!

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