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

How to Keep Track of Child Memories

I started emailing my kids about four years ago. Right after my youngest was born. I came across this idea and thought it was a really fun and current, way to keep memories for my kids.

I created email accounts for each of my kids. I am the only one with the password. I sent out their email addresses to all of their relatives and asked for them to send little notes or photos randomly, to the email accounts.

When my kids turn 18, I’ll give them their account with full access to all of the emails. 

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Why did I start?

I started because I’m terrified of forgetting. I get anxiety from thinking I won’t remember something really important in their life. The email accounts give me and the rest of their family the ability to not let them forget those fun and memorable moments.

Why I love it

I love it because of the New Years. Every year on January 1st, I send each of my kids an email summing up the year. The email entails major and minor events. For years like these past two years, (ahem, co^!d) It has served as a great reflection of their character. It is a reminder of what they’ve been able to overcome at such a young age. I also love it because It’s another form of dialogue for us. I don’t always get to say the things I want to say out loud. But I always say them through writing. 

My hope

I hope that when they look back through all their emails, that they’ll see they were loved and supported by many people throughout their childhood. And with that I hope it gives them the confidence to take on adulthood.

Artwork Storage

Are you a art wannabe hoarder like me? What’s that? I’m the type that really wants to keep all of my kid’s art projects, paining etc., but I also can not handle any sort of clutter in the house. I keep art for a week at a time then I end up tossing it. Until now. Now I scan the artwork into my computer or onto my phone and email it to the kid’s address. This serves as a way for me to store the artwork without the clutter, and it gives my children the opportunity to look back on the things they have created. Granted by the time they are 18, I doubt they’ll want to look at the same flower they painted 15 times, but hey, you never know.

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School Photos

You know those (typically) awful school pictures you spend about $100 on in the fall and the spring. Now you can keep a copy of those for your kids in their email. Scan it with your phone or you computer and send away. It’ll be a great trip down memory lane, looking back at those.

Send whatever you want.

If you think of something funny, something important, a milestone, a memorable moment you might forget, anything, send it in the email. The age of technology is here and now, let’s use it to our advantage and not forget these moments from our children’s childhood.

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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Where’s The Manual??

Parenting would be soooooo much easier if they just gave you the manual for a child as you were leaving the hospital. Instead it’s a, here’s a free (but not really free) wheel chair ride to your car with your new baby….good luck.

Not helpful. So then we resort to how we were raised. Granted we don’t know what the hell our parents did with us during the newborn phase *chances are they don’t remember either* So we have to wing it.

As we go on, we figure out things along the way that are helpful to our baby and to us. Minutes turn into hours, that turn into days soon we are years away from their first day earth side.

All the while we’ve just been figuring it out…

And that leads us to this:

There aren’t any manuals. There aren’t any cure alls. There aren’t any magic wands that guarantee your child will be a successful, happy & healthy adult. There isn’t anything.

THERE.IS.YOU.

You are the manual. You are the fairy godmother. You are the one that will alter how your child develops into adolescence then into adulthood. It’s just you. 

So, here’s the parenting tip. Do what works for you and your child. See their needs and meet them where they are. Social media can be a great resource and our worst nightmare. Try not to compare how your child is to everyone else’s. Social media is the highlight reel of a family’s life. For example: Just because that family looks like they all had an amazing time on their Fiji vacations, doesn’t mean they actually did. What you probably weren’t show was the three year old throwing multiple tantrums on the travel days. Maybe one of the children got sick from foreign food. The parents could actually be in a heated argument because of the stress of traveling with family. The teenage daughter could be absolutely miserable because she didn’t want to go on the trip, she wanted to stay home with her friends. Oh don’t forget the baby, that baby probably isn’t sleeping because, well, it’s a baby!

But what you did see, is a “happy family, all smiling, standing still with an amazing background, on a lovely, expensive vacation” that we interpret as a “goal.” Try not to compare. Try not to wish upon a star. Try not to think “why do their kids behave themselves all the time.” Try not to live outside your family.

Try to do this instead…

Be consistent. Be loving. Be present.

You kids don’t need lavish trips to make them well rounded adults. You children don’t need Elite elementary, middle & high schools. Your children don’t need to do every extracurricular activity under the sun. Your children don’t need all of the newest fashion trends. You children don’t need x,y & z.

Your children need you. They need you to see them. To hear them. To be present with them. The rest will come when it may.

Parenting is NOT easy. But you were meant for it.

xx Kelsey

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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

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