The Happiest Toddler calls certain annoying things your tot does, Yellow-light behaviors. These things, like whining, begging, pouting, interrupting - to name a few! - can BUG THE HECK out of you, especially if you’re tired or stressed.  Your child’s annoying and defiant behavior may even call up bad memories from your own childhood, causing your temper to flare and making you overreact. But when you Connect With Respect (using the Fast Food Rule and Toddler-ese), look for Win-Win Compromises (instead of getting locked into stubborn won’t-wont struggles), and enforce mild consequences like the clap-growl and kind ignore, you’ll be thrilled to see how quickly you and your tot can turn conflicts back into cooperation! The key to having a happy home it to set clear and consistent limits. Limits teach toddlers the difference between right and wrong, safety and danger and so on.  Setting clear limits is super important.  We all want to raise our children with humility and kindness, but we also need show courage and resolve.  Start each day with love, but when your child pushes, limits that are important to you…don’t cave in.  When push comes to shove (and shove to bite!) you must caringly, respectfully use your power to keep order. Here are four tips to effective limits:

  1. Be reasonable: Tots have limited impulse control, so remove dangers and temptations (like fragile items) and make your home fit your child, rather than vice versa.

  2. Keep it simple: Don’t use long sentences to set limits. (“It’s time to put away your crayons. I don’t want to have to ask you again.  Please don’t make me nag.”) Simple statements work best. (“Crayons stay in the den.”)

  3. Be consistent: Consistency helps kids learn right and wrong.  Of course, no one is 100% consistent all of the time. On occasion, you can choose to bend the rules.  But when you do, make it really clear that you’re making an exception (“Our rule is we only eat in the kitchen, BUT since today is Daddy’s birthday, we do something special and have a picnic in the living room.”)

  4. Avoid mixed messages: Your tone of voice and the look on your face HAVE TO send the same message as your words. Want your child to know you mean business? Crouch down (just a bit above her eye level) and speak with a deeper voice and more stern, serious face.

Smart parents also know how to pick their battles. Some limits are impossible to enforce.  For example, it may be impossible to make your tot eat broccoli, poop on the potty, or overcome fears.  So when you see you’re getting into a struggle that you can’t win, switch from giving warnings to using some good old charm, compromise and ingenuity. You can read more about this in The Happiest Toddler on the Block.

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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.