We all know how tough it is to raise a toddler, but not many people realise how tough it is to BE a toddler. Toddlers lose all day long! They’re weaker, slower, shorter, less verbal, and clumsier than almost everybody they know. That’s why they love stomping in puddles (to make a big splash) and showing off their “massive” muscles. It’s also why they can be so darn stubborn, refusing to listen or to give in. 

They just want to win a few!

You can’t protect your child from all the defeats he’ll suffer while he’s growing up. (And you wouldn’t want to. They build character.) But you can help your little one become more self-confident and resilient so he bounces back from disappointments more easily. 

Building Confidence: How to Show Toddlers You Believe in Them

The more your child knows you believe in him, the more he’ll believe in himself. Here are some easy ways to boost your toddler’s self-confidence. . . fast! 

Listen with Respect.

When you listen to your child with patience and respect, you send him the message that you really value him as a person.

Ask for Help: “Can You Carry This for Daddy?”

Asking your tot for help tells him, I know you can do it. He’ll beam with pride when he shows you how capable he is. For example, say, “Honey, my hands are sooo full, can you please help Mummy and carry my purse?” 

Offer Options: “Which Ones Should We Get?”

There are so many decisions to make every day; let your child make a couple of them. One-year-olds aren’t great decision-makers. But by 2, your tot will love being asked to choose: “Which flowers should we buy, the pink or the yellow?” Asking your child his opinion shows him that you think he’s smart and you have confidence in his choices.

Two big rules about choices:

  • Don’t offer too many options. Your toddler’s immature brain may get overloaded with too many choices. “Do you want milk in the red cup, yellow cup, green cup, or purple cup?” Thirty-nine flavors of ice cream? Tilt! Tilt!
  • Never ask your child’s choice if you plan to disregard it. For example, don’t ask him which flowers to get if you’ve already decided to buy the pink ones no matter what. 

Let Him Work It Out: “You Can Do It!”

It may take your toddler five minutes to do something you can do in five seconds, but don’t rush him! Put your hands in your pockets, zip your lips, take some slow, deep breaths, and encourage his efforts. (“Wow! You’re really trying hard!” “Good job, you’ve almost got it!”) If you can refrain from hovering and jumping in, your patience and body language will give your little one the message I trust you to figure out even tough things. Let him work at it, even if he gets a little frustrated. Of course, offer some help if he’s really getting upset. 

Play the Boob

The basic idea of “playing the boob” is to make your child feel smart/strong/fast/etc. by making yourself seem, well, like a bit of a “boob.” That might mean acting klutzy, confused, forgetful, or like a literal pushover (maybe you get “blown down” with one of their huffs and puffs). See more tips about playing the boob here!

Why It’s So Important to Make Your Toddler Feel Triumphant 

This is one of the most important parenting concepts you’ll ever learn: If you fill your child with many little triumphs and successes throughout the day, he’ll automatically become more respectful and cooperative. Why? Because even primitive little toddlers understand the rule of fairness: After I win a bunch . . . you get a turn.

Think of it this way: Say you go to Las Vegas and win a million dollars. You feel great. Like a winner! Your pockets are bulging with cash. Then, on your way out, you pass a person begging. You might give him $100, maybe even $1,000. Why not? You won so much, you feel in a generous mood. It’s no big deal to you. On the other hand, if you’ve lost your life savings, you may not even give the beggar a penny. Why? Because when you feel like you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to give.

That’s exactly how it is with your toddler. If your toddler feels like a loser all day long, he is much less likely to cooperate with you. But if you let him “win” little victories all day long, he’s much more likely to let you win a few little struggles (such as trying a tiny piece of broccoli). He’ll be thinking, You know what, Mum? I’m such a winner today, I’m gonna let you win this one.

More Toddler Tips:

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.