Toddlers -- full of energy and eager to test your limits as well as their legs -- can be a particular challenge for parents. But even though children don't come with an owner’s manual, the adventure can be more fun if you're aware of a few common mistakes parents make and how to avoid them.
Mistake 1: Being Inconsistent
Toddlers do best when they know what to expect, whether it's what time they bathe and go to bed or what consequences they'll face for misbehaving. The more consistent and predictable things are, the more resilient and agreeable a toddler is likely to be.
If you're not sure how best to react when your child dumps food on the floor or ignores bedtime, sit down with your partner to decide ahead of time how you'll both respond -- and then stick with it.
"You don't want to send mixed messages," pediatrician Tanya Remer Altmann, the author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents' Top 101 Questions about Babies and Toddlers, says, "you really want to be consistent."
Mistake 2: Overdoing Family Time
It's fun to spend time with the whole family. But some parents go overboard on family time.
Clinical psychologist Thomas Phelan, author of 1-2-3 Magic, says, "Kids cherish time alone with one parent." He points out, "One-on-one time is fun for parents too, because there's no sibling rivalry to contend with."
Fix it: It's easy to spend one-on-one time with a toddler. Phelan recommends simply getting down on the floor together and playing. At bedtime, enjoy reading a book together or tell stories to your child.