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Mistake 7: Starting Potty Training Too Soon

Some parents cajole their children into using the toilet when they think it's time and issue harsh reprimands when things go awry. That can lead to a power struggle.

Fix it: "Children learn to use the toilet when they're ready," Altmann says. "The process shouldn't be rushed."

But you can set the stage. Show your toddler the toilet. Explain its use. If you feel comfortable doing so, let your child watch you use the toilet and offer praise if he or she gives it a whirl.

What if your child is still in diapers at age 4? "Don't worry," Altmann says. "No child is ever going to go to college in diapers."

Mistake 8: Allowing Too Much Screen Time

Toddlers who watch lots of TV often have more trouble learning later on. And studies suggest that kids under the age of 2 can't really take in what's being displayed on TV and computer screens.

Fix it: Keep your toddler busy with reading and other creative pursuits. Have conversations-and encourage talking as well as listening. "The longer you can hold off exposing your child to TV, the better," Altmann says.

Mistake 9: Trying to Stop a Tantrum

Some parents worry that an out-of-control child makes them seem like ineffectual parents. But all toddlers have tantrums. When they do, it's pointless to try to talk them out of it -- even if the drama is unfolding in front of company or in a public place.

"When we are in public and dealing with a child, we feel judged," Braun says. "We feel like there is a neon sign over our heads saying we are incompetent parents."

Fix it: Braun says parents must remember that the child matters more than the opinions of other people -- especially strangers.

If people glare or offer unwanted advice, simply smile and say something like, "Gosh, do you remember what it was like?" Then scoop up the wailing child and find a place away from prying eyes for the tantrum to run its course. Once it does, offer the child a hug and go on with your day.

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