4 Things to Thank Your Toddler for Today

Image via Julia Pelly

We all know that praising what's good is a far better way to get little ones to behave than punishing what's wrong, but sometimes it can be tough to do. When you have a toddler (or two) under foot as you try to cook, clean, or work, it can be really hard to find the good and stop yourself from saying, “No, no, no!” all day. When you step back and really think about your little one (after they've gone to bed and you start to miss them) there are probably hundreds of things you absolutely love about them and a whole lot of ways they've shown their greatness through the day. Below are four things almost every toddler does that you should take the time to praise tomorrow.


While toddler help isn't usually as helpful as they'd like it to be (like when they are trying to sweep but end up knocking a whole set of mugs off the counter) the intentions behind their offers are good ones. Your little one loves you and wants to contribute. Next time they offer to help, thank them for being so thoughtful and try to direct their help in a way that's manageable and age-appropriate. Most toddlers can pick up their toys, do simple sorting, and put things in a bin.

{ MORE: Button-Up Baby: Tips Help Your Toddler Learn Independence and Dress Themselves }

Showing affection

Toddlers love to be affectionate with the people they care about. They might give big hugs and sloppy kisses, or simply ask to be held and cuddled as you read a story. Showing affection means that your toddler loves you and is learning how to share their love in positive ways. The next time they show affection, praise them for being so loving and tell them how it makes you feel. Letting toddlers know that they made you happy will brighten their day and make them want to keep making you happy.

Showing patience

While toddlers aren't known for their patience, they actually show a great deal of patience on any given day. Toddlers rely on their caregivers for just about everything and are totally reliant on caregiver schedules. This often means that they have to wait, at least a little bit, to get what they want. So the next time your toddler stands by calmly as you fix them a meal, or they wait patiently in line with you at the post office before going to the playground, praise them for their patience. When my son is being particularly patient I usually remind him that “patience is waiting for the things we want” and then I thank him for being such a big boy.

Following the routine without being asked

While there are usually a few parts of every day that toddlers aren't fond of (like getting in the car or going down for a nap) they are particularly adept at knowing and understanding routines and, as long as you're consistent, following them without complaint. Let your little one know how helpful it is when they follow the routine, especially when it's not their favorite part of the day. Saying, “Wow! You're such a big girl and you help mommy when you get into your highchair by yourself,” makes more sense to them than saying, “Mommy really needs you to get in your car seat right now so we can go pick up your brother.”

{ MORE: 8 Steps to Loving Your Child Through Purposeful Discipline }

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4 Things to Thank Your Toddler for Today

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More

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