Common Misconceptions About Toddlers

We can all agree that toddlers can be EXTREMELY challenging at time. Some are definitely more challenge consistently, compared to others. But hey, remember we aren’t doing the comparing game so just read on only thinking about your little babe.

When you think toddler, do you think – “terrible twos” or “threenager” ? Chances are you naturally think that way because those phrases have just been engraved into our minds. They’re super catchy and most of the time they seem extremely accurate. What I want you to do now, is try to erase that and shift your perspective with these common misconceptions. If you take a step back and really think about this, toddlers are not terrible at all & having more compassion for them is the key to helping them flourish.

Toddlers Are incapable – Nope, they’re fiercely capable.

It isn’t until we have our own children that we realize how enormously capable children are from such young age. As they approach 18 months old, they start to notice where we are going in the car well before they are able to recognize things along the route. If they see a giraffe in a book, they’ll go grab their giraffe stuffed animal from the toy basket.

By allowing our young children to participate in tasks around the house, or every day jobs (chores), the growing child’s brain feels a sense of accomplishment. This then boosts their self-esteem that will be greatly beneficial to them as they progress through life. Providing a young child with tasks they are capable of completing also keeps the child engaged and curious of what other skills they can acquire.

When we assume our child isn’t capable of doing something, when if fact they are, this is when you’ll see an internal struggle with your child. The internal struggle of knowing their capabilities and not being able to show them, then turns into outburst of frustration.

Toddlers Hold Grudges – You’re giving them too much credit

Picture a toddler who wants to stay at the park when it’s time to leave. They melt down. The tantrum may even last half and hour. But once they calm down (sometimes you have to step in and help), they go back to being their cheerful, curious selves – unlike us adults. We can wake up on the wrong side of the bed and be a crabby patty for the entire day.

When Responding to a child who is having a tantrum, keep in mind that they are having a hard time, not giving you a hard time. Toddlers ability to move past the tantrum is how their brain develops. It is our responsibility to teach them that it’s ok to be consumed by our emotions, it’s ok to not get your way and be upset about it, but the show must go on. (ahem, life in general) Toddlers are hot and cold because this is their prime brain development for emotional regulation. They have to feel all of the big feelings and then learn how to not explode over every little thing. Keep in mind, it’s a work in progress and definitely doesn’t just stop when they turn three, or four, or five, etc.

Toddlers Aren’t Nice – Wrong again, they’re impulsive

I don’t think any toddler is malicious. If they see someone playing with a toy, they may simply think, oh i’ld like to play with that toy right now! and then take it from the other child. Or maybe they’ll do something to get a reaction (I’m going to drop this glass and see how my mom reacts) or be frustrated that something did not go their way.

But, they are never mean-spirited, or vengeful. The basics of what they are is simply impulsive – they will follow their urges, whatever they may be.

Toddlers Are Rude – Quite the opposite, toddlers are wildly honest

Toddlers are such a joy to be around because they are extremely direct and honest. Their authenticity is so contagious. They say exactly what they mean and they wear those great big hearts right on their sleeves.

Toddlers will point out any little thing that is curious to them. Like, if you’re on the bus and there is an elderly man in one of the seats you walk past. Your toddler might say something like “wow he’s old” and you’ll be flushed with embarrassment but your toddler thinks nothing of it.

In that same sense, it make being around toddlers very easy. They don’t play mind games, there aren’t any underlying motives and there are absolutely not politics involved.

They know how to be themselves. They don’t doubt themselves. They don’t judge others. Our world would be better if we were more of a toddler mindset.

There are many, many more misconceptions about toddlers that jade the way we parent and respond to them. If you only take these four and shift the way you are with your toddler, you’ll be better for it. I challenge you to see toddlers for the amazing beings they are. Toddlers are pure, loving, curious, feisty, honest, silly, adventurous, wild, carefree, joyful, magical little people. And don’t forget to enjoy this short period of time when you have a toddler. It may seem like it’s “taking forever” for your little babe to grow out of this stage, but it absolutely goes faster than you think.

Hug that toddler of yours today.

xx Kelsey

Parenting Reflection

May you be blessed with a child who…

Defies you so you learn to release control,

With one who doesn’t listen

So you learn to tune in,

With one who procrastinates

So you learn the beauty of stillness,

With one who forgets things

So you learn to let go of attachments,

With one who is extra-sensitive

So you learn to be grounded,

With one who is inattentive,

So you learn to be focused,

With one who dares to rebel

So you learn to trust the universe,

And may you be blessed with a child 

Who teaches you that it is never about them 

And all about you.


As you read that, imagine all the times you saw your child behavior as a personal vendetta against you. Now read it again. We parents tend to fall into this mindset that our children are purposefully doing things to us out of spite, but in fact, it is us who are spiting our children for not releasing our own issues in order to parent our children. When we learn to step back and release our agendas and focus on the actual behavior itself, we are able to nurture the body’s natural response to situations. For instance, our toddler isn’t giving us a hard time by throwing a tantrum….they are having a hard time with their emotional control. Step back, read the situation, then step back in and empathize with your child, “I see you’re really frustrated because you can’t have that toy, can I offer you a hug?” or “wow, it looks like that made you really sad, do you want to talk about it?” By identifying what your child may be feeling takes you out of your head and into theirs.

So I challenge you, step back take a moment to get out of your head, and step back in with an agenda-less mind. Help, console, problem solve, be present. Oh and P.S. It’s not easy, so don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t master it the first couple of tries. You’ll evolve and watch how positively you child responds.

xx Kelsey

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Let Them Be Little…

Let them be little…

Let them have their space to make noise, even though it makes your head pound.

Let them have the tantrum…because they’re just learning how to communicate and deal with their big emotions.

Let them get dirty…because they’re learning through nature.

Let them take out all your pots and pans…because they are mimicking you and are inspired by you.

Let them tell you the hour long story…because they are using their imagination.

Let them push your limits…because it is a reminder to be in the moment.

Let them cry…because owies hurt and sadness is real.

Let them enjoy nature for all it is…because it is an everlasting treasure in our world.

Let them wonder and be curious….because they are broadening their thinking about expanding their minds.

Let them be silly…because that silliness will help get them through a lot in their life.

Let their personality and character shine…because the more they are comfortable in their own skin, the less self-esteem issues they’ll have later.

Let them fail…because learning happens through failure.

Let them love with their whole heart…because this worlds could use a lot more of that.

Let them be little…


I wish I had someone constantly reminding me to let them be little, when my children were little. There is so much joy and beauty in a child. We mustn’t diminish that spark. They are only little once. And I PROMISE you, even when you’re in the THICK of it, it goes by much faster than we’re ready for.

Children are simply learning how to exist in this great big world. Our world is a busy one. Let your children be your reminder to slow down and enjoy what is important in this life.

xx Kelsey

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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12 Phrases to use when talking to children

Talking to kids can come so easily. They have thoughts about everything and stories for miles. They see the world in a completely different light, and could ask enough questions to fill an afternoon.

But sometimes finding the right words for talking to kids can be really, really challenging. When choosing how to respond to the marker on the wall, or the seemingly unending why-can’t-I battle, or in simply keeping healthy communication open with kids who don’t want to talk, the words don’t seem to come so easily.

In challenging situations, our frustration and/or overwhelm seems to bubble over, clouding any cohesive sentence structure we might have put together. The pressure is on, we need to “use our words,” but all we can muster is a non-verbal utterance resembling something like a cross between a growl and a guttural sigh. I find that in these really challenging moments, it helps for parents to have a few familiar and effective phrases in our back pocket. Words that have already been carefully selected before we lost our minds.

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Here’s a list of my favorites:

1.“At the same time…”

Using the word “but” can complicate already tense conversations. Often seen as negating whatever came before, it can create confusion and hurt feelings. The phrase, “I love you, but…” or “I’m sorry, but…” comes off as “I love you, but not enough,” or “I’m sorry, but not really.”

Instead, use the phrase, “at the same time”. This phrase validates both what comes before and after as coexisting.

“I love you. At the same time, I can’t let you hurt other people.”I’m sorry you’re upset. At the same time, running away isn’t safe.”

2.“I need you to…/you need to…”

One of the biggest invitations for power struggles comes when we make our requests sound optional. We say things like, “Are you ready for lunch?” or “How about we get you dressed?” or “Do you want to pick up your toys?”

Those phrases are great IF we actually mean to give our child those choices. When we don’t, we need to be more clear. “You need to come to lunch, please.” “I need you to get dressed, please.” “You need to pick up your toys, please.”

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3. “I see…”

“I see two children who both want the same toy.”
“I see you look very upset…”

Stating your observations as you come upon a problem helps to prevent you from placing blame or making assumptions. And that keeps everyone more open to problem-solving because you’re starting from a place of trying to understand, rather than trying to place blame.

Simply start by describing what you see in a completely nonjudgmental way. Then invite the children to help you fill in the rest.

4. “Tell me about…”

Similar to #3, the key to this phrase is not assuming. Whether you’re trying to understand what’s going on in a tiff between friends, or curious about the work going on in a painting or block structure, it’s better to ask for the child’s input rather than jump to assumptions. “Tell me about your picture…” works better than “What a lovely bear!” (especially when the bear was actually a dog.) “Tell me about what happened…” works better than jumping right in with, “I can’t believe you hit her!” (especially when the hitting was preceded by 2 hours of taunting.)

5. “I love to watch you…”

This is a great phrase to keep at the ready for every day, proactive relationship building (which always pays off when times get tough).

Simply letting a child know that you are watching them and enjoying them can go a long way in building their positive self-perception. Sometimes the best thing we can do to motivate good behavior and build good relationships is simply to notice the wonderful good that already exists.

“I love watching you play with your brothers.” “I love listening to you play the piano.” “I love to watch you build with your legos.”

It’s a simple phrase that lets a child know we notice them, while at the same time reminding us to slow down enough to be noticers.

6. “What do you think you could do..”

As experienced problem-solvers ourselves, it can be tempting to swoop right in and fix every problem. But it’s important that we give kids ownership of and practice with the problem-solving process.

“What do you think you could do to help your sister feel better?” “What do you think you could do to make things right with your friend?” “What do you think you could do to make sure everyone gets a turn?” “What do you think you could do to take care of this spill?”

Notice that children are not only invited to come up with a proposed solution, but to own it. “What do YOU think YOU could do…”

7. “How can I help…”

Similarly, there are times when a child clearly needs our help, but we want to be sure we help, not rescue. We want to offer our abilities without taking away their responsibilities. “How can I help you with this broken glass?” “How can I help you clean your room?” “How can I help you understand your homework?”

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8. “what I know is…”

There are times when our kids tell us things we KNOW are not true. But when we jump to, “That’s a lie!”, they typically shut down or become defensive.

Whether it’s lying, magical thinking, or a complete misunderstanding, we can avoid an argument or an overreaction by calmly starting with what we know.

“What I know is that there were four cookies on the plate when I left.” “What I know is that toys can’t move by themselves.” “What I know is that Jesse’s mom wasn’t home today.”

9. “Help me understand..”

Similarly, inviting a child to help you understand, is less accusatory than “explain yourself”. It communicates that you don’t understand, but you WANT to.

“Help me understand how this got here.” “Help me understand what happened.”

10. “I’m sorry…”

Kids aren’t always the ones making the mistakes in these difficult situations. Sometimes our imperfections are the best starting point for important learning opportunities. When we apologize for our shortcomings, we model how to make appropriate apologies, but also teach our children that we all make mistakes. When they see us acknowledge and apologize, they learn that they can do the same. Additionally, when we repair our relationships, we make them stronger.

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11. “Thank you…”

Along with all the hard situations, we have to acknowledge the great ones (or even a great sliver of a really hard day). Just like we want to know our hard work is appreciated every day, our children want to know that their effort is noticed as well.

“Thank you for packing your lunch this morning.” “Thank you for being such a respectful listener.” “Thank you for helping your sister.” Even, “Thank you for doing your jobs. I know you wanted to do other things first. (Unspoken: Because you threw a big fit beforehand.) I really appreciate you doing it even though it was hard.”

12. “I love you”

With all the words we search for, these three should come easily and frequently. With our words and with our actions, our kids should know that through thick and thin, we ALWAYS love them.

There are two truths that seem to be true in regards to child development:

  1. All learning and development happen in the context of human relationships.
  2. Healthy human relationships, particularly in families, are built on unconditional love.

Before, during and after our most challenging situations with our kids, we should convey to them that they are always safe and loved, no matter what. Love can compensate for all kinds of parenting mistakes. Even when we can’t find the right words, or when those words just don’t come out like they should. When they come from a place of love, and when that love is consistently made clear, we eventually find our way back together.


Parenting is one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life. There is not one way of doing it, there isn’t a manual of the right and wrong things to do. There are just suggestions of what has worked for some. These have worked for me with my five children, do they work every time? Nope. Because my children, like all children are not the same every moment of every day. Above all, patience is what I strive to have. I try to model with the best of my ability, positive and constructive communication as well as empathy. Growing up is a really hard thing to do, and I think that we as parents tend to forget that because we made it through. Have grace with your children. It’s a great big world and they’re trying to find their place in it.

xoxo

Kelsey

Rating: 1 out of 5.
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