It might seem that your toddler just has it made. Someone reads them a story and tucks them in every night. They don't have any chores and responsibilities. They even have an on-call doctor and a personal chef (that would be you). Yet life isn't all rainbows and sunshine for your little toddler. A few sure signs that your child is under stress are increased crying or clinginess and shifts in eating or sleeping habits. Here are some of the reasons your little one may be feeling stressed and the ways to lessen their anxiety.
A heated money talk you had with your spouse may have a lasting effect on your child. Your toddler may not understand all of your words, but they can read body language and sense the tension in parents’ voices. Stress is contagious, and your child may start to imitate your response to it and experience similar feelings to yours.
The best thing to do is get your personal emotions in check. You know how the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others? The same rule applies when handling a stressful situation. Take care of yourself first and do whatever you can to relieve your anxiety: meditate, go for a run, or talk to a friend.
Separation anxiety is a normal developmental stage that usually peaks at 12–22 months. Don't feel guilty if you need to leave your child with a babysitter to run errands, exercise, or enjoy an evening out. The reason your departure upsets your toddler is that they fear you'll never come back. It's important to make your child feel secure, so tell them where you're going and when you'll return. Eventually, they'll realize that your absence is temporary.
To ease the bye-bye blues, try to leave your child with someone they know. If you're using a new sitter, give your toddler some time to get to know them while you're still around. Keep your goodbye brief but avoid sneaking off.
Potty training is a touchy subject and a source of frustration for both kids and parents. If you think your child is ready to start the training, try to talk about the subject in a way that sparks their interest. Get them excited about this great new habit and the fun, colorful underwear they'll get to wear instead of a diaper. Let them know that their toilet habits will prove to everyone how grown up they are.
Toddlers who are forced into toilet training too early may develop a negative attitude that will only prolong the process. If your toddler gets overly frustrated with potty training, step back from it for a while until they seem ready to give it a go again. The best advice anyone can give you is simple: relax and don’t worry too much. Everyone eventually learns to use the bathroom.
If you're going through a divorce or have just experienced a loss of a family member, keep in mind that your toddler will probably feel the effects as well. It’s ok to let your child know that you feel sad but try to preserve their daily routines as much as possible. Maintain the bedtime rituals and continue activities that ensure a sense of normalcy.
Your child can't always distinguish between what's real and what isn’t. While toddlers are too young to watch movies, they can still be spooked by images they accidentally see in a film or the evening news.
Be careful about what you expose your toddler to. If your child sees something unexpectedly that upsets them, comfort them and talk through their fear. Putting on a calming video like the one below will help, too.
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