January 7, 2019

Five Toddler Tips that Work For Us


We’re knee deep in toddlerhood and from our own experiences, I wanted to share a few toddler tips that have really worked for us.

Five Toddler Tips that Work For Us

Choose Your Battles:

 Like all parents, I have my non-negotioables. This includes anything concerning safety, inappropriate behavior in a restaurant (or manners in general) and a few other things. However, there are certain situations where we’re okay with giving in and letting Nate make the choice. From a few books that I’ve read, studies show that allowing your toddler to make some of their own choices help with independence and a sense of self.

For instance, as Nate gets a little older, he has way more opinions about what he wants to wear and not wear. On the day we went to see Santa, I had a vision of a certain outfit, which included a dressier little boot. Naturally, Nate was not having it and we ended up in a pair of white converse that were dirtier than I would have preferred. At first, I resisted: “we have to look good for Santa”. But I quickly came to the realization that it was NOT that serious.

Give Options with the Same Results:

With toddlers, it’s all about control. Lately, Nate hates putting a sweater on, but that’s another thing I won’t negotiate on when it’s 20 degrees outside. If I give him the option of 2-3 sweaters, he’s much more likely to oblige. The results are the same (the sweater is on), but with a bit less of a struggle.

Five Toddler Tips that Work For Us - Brooklyn BlondeGive a Countdown: 

Imagine if you’re in the middle of a show that you’re really into and out of nowhere, someone shuts the TV off, without any sort of heads up. Or if you’re having a blast with your friends and you’re abruptly told “it’s time to go!” You’d probably find it a bit frustrating, no? Now, imagine that happening through a toddlers mind.

I’ve learned that giving Nate a countdown reduces tantrums significantly. For example: after school and a full day of activities, I let Nate unwind on the couch and watch a few of his favorite shows. When it’s nearing the time to turn it off, rather than doing it abruptly, I’ll give him a 15 minute heads up with a “Nate, we you have 15 more minutes…” and then again 5 minutes and at times, even 1-2 minutes before. It always seems to work and if he does get a bit moody, it’s way less than if I didn’t give any countdown at all.


A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a friend of mine who works in early childhood development and psychology. She mentioned something that was so simple, but hearing the words out loud really made me hear them: “toddlers act out because they simply do not have the words or skills  to express why they’re feeling frustrated.” By empathizing, we’re showing them that they’re heard and teaching them how to start dealing with their emotions.

There was a period where Nate was hitting his friends in school. When the teacher had “a talk” with me, I thought I failed as a parent. I couldn’t help but take it personally, but after digging a little deeper, I realized just how common it was. After it happened again (the teacher would always tell us), I tried my best to have a heart-to-heart with Nate. One day after school, instead of reprimanding him and immediately telling him that it’s not something he should do, I used a different approach. I asked him why he was frustrated enough to hit someone and his response “they grabbed the toy from my hands.”

At that point, I acknowledged why that might upset him, but in the future, he should tell his teacher. He nodded and I swear, I felt like something clicked in his head. I’m not saying it won’t happen again, but hopefully it helped trigger something.

Sticker Charts:

 This is a new thing for us, recommended by the same friend who studied childhood development. The goal is to really focus on positive behavior in the form of rewarding, not bribing (big difference).  For example, if Nate says “please and thank you,” in the past, I’ve always tried to make it a point to call out how proud I am for using these words. Now, we’ll use a little sticker chart and it gets him so excited to see these behaviors acknowledged in a fun way. Here is a really good article from Psychology Today if you’re interested in reading more about this tactic.

I hope you found these helpful! If there are any tips that have helped you in the same department, please share! We’re all in this together.

Another post you may enjoy:

Dining with toddlers and kid-friendly restaurants in NYC.



  • Young

    I don’t have a child, so I can’t even begin to imagine the struggles. I think the fact that you take each learning moment to reflect and grow as a parent shows you’re a phenomenal mother.

    The Style Intermission

  • Rena

    Although our children are already grown up since many years I know for sure your tips really make sense and it is so helpful that you share them. Thank you!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  • Anika May

    The first photo is so cute despite the tantrum haha!

    Anika | anikamay.co.uk

  • Francine

    Hi Helena,

    One tip that worked really well with my three boys (and still does for one of my 9-year olds, KK) is to have them fold their hands. Yes, fold their hands! That simple act sort of resets their focus. When my boys were little, I also had them count to 10. Now, I have KK say the alphabet backwards while his hands are folded. It REALLY takes the steam out of a tantrum or just a stinky mood in general.

    • Helena

      I love that! will have to try! Thanks, Francine!

  • janine

    Those photos are too adorable! 🙂 Those tips sounds really helpful, I don’t have a toddler, but I can imagine how parents can really benefit from that!
    xx Janine

  • Brittany

    I really like the countdown tip! My son is 17 months old and we’re fully into the tantrum phase. He is starting to understand more and more, so I plan to implement this in our home as he gets a little older 🙂

  • Lauren

    Can you provide the names of some of the parenting books you have read that you really like?

    • Francine

      I know you were asking Helena, but I thought I’d chime in with my absolute favorite. ‘Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers’ by Tracy Hogg was a life saver. If you have a baby, read her first set of books, ‘The Baby Whisperer.’

    • Eva


      Great tips! I currently have a 3 going on 13 and wowsers she can really have her moments. I shared the tip about “shutting the tv abruptly off” and he laughed so hard because he knew he was soooo guilty of this. Not only do I need to have patience with my little one but also helps to share tips with my partner so we’re both on the same page. I have to remind him she’s not a baby and you don’t snatch or shut things off when she’s right in the middle of something she finds enjoyable. Also thank you for the tip on the sticker chart. We’re desperately trying to get her to eat foods. All she ever wants is milk and juice. It’s tough to get her to eat anything solid. The sticker chart I’m hoping will help. Thank you again! Love your site!!

  • FRP Cable Tray Manufacturer

    Nice and amazing post this one is, thanks for sharing…

  • Peppermint Dolly

    Love that shot – it’s real and honest!

    Rebecca | http://www.peppermintdolly.com

  • Deva

    Nice post

  • Samantha

    Love this so much! My son is 16 months so he’s a bit young for some of these tactics but I’m totallly taking mental notes! Would love to know your favorite child development books, by the way.

  • Nat

    Love the article. Still adapting my toddler’s new found voice. So adjusting to his tantrums has been quite the challenge. Thanks bella for the tips and examples! They gave me some inspo xoxo

  • MoniquE

    Love your blog and motherhood posts! My son is only 2 months old but i’s great to read about toddlers too! Great post! Love from Brazil

  • Pam Johnson

    My son is 28 so I’ve been out of the Toddler life for a while now. But I ALWAYS ALWAYS allowed my son to voice his frustration (respectfully). My patent line was ” Mommy doesn’t understand whining, so please take a moment and use your words and tell me what’s bothering you” Even before he could speak clearly this worked! It works to calm them down because now they have to gather themselves and concentrate to try to let you know what they want. This pretty much established how we communicated even through the teenage years. Which make the Toddler years look like a day on the beach..lol

  • Ilona

    Love this blog!

  • May

    I love the countdown tips. It’s better than “now” command and teach them about time. Thank you for sharing the tips! It’s very helpful!

  • Tracey

    These are great! I have a 15 month-old and the tantrums are starting!! More of this!

  • Diana

    I dont have a child yet, but I do love reading your posts on parenthood and I think these tips are really helpful and will be useful for me in the future. Thank you for being so real and honest, I’m sure many people will criticize Nate’s behavior in school, but the truth is, it happens more often then not. Love you Helena!

  • Melissa Walker

    Hitting is very common – as a mom of three young boys, it happens a lot in our house. The book series ‘Hands are not for Hitting’ (and also ‘Teeth are not for biting’) seems very simple, but reading it consistently really works. Another trick I learned in preschool is to have them breathe deep during/post meltdowns to calm down. We say ‘smell the flowers, blow out the birthday cake’ to get them to breathe in through their nose and out through their mouth. It’s the only way I can get them to stop crying post meltdowns. You are doing a great job Mama!

    • Helena

      Hi Melissa,

      This is so helpful and I’m ordering the books tonight. Thank you!!


  • Kellen

    Excelent post! I already used the sticker card and it was very good. Thank you!

  • lydia @makinglamadre

    YES! to all of this. The countdown you mention is something we definitely have implemented. A grandma at the park actually suggested it, in a passive aggressive way, and I took note. The other thing we do is “1-2-3′ warning or countdown if he is not obeying or following rules. When we get to “3” he has to go to his room and it is working pretty well. Would love any other tips on manners if you have them. xx

  • disability psychology perth

    Forced choice options between 2 or 3 items are a great solution

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