Toddlers – boundaries, routine and sleep

“Parenting with love and leadership”.

Study after study shows that toddlers love and indeed crave routine! It helps them feel safe, secure in their world. They also need to recognise who’s in charge of their world.  It’s our job to set limits and reasonable boundaries, consistently. And it’s their job to test those limits as their normal growth and development drives a strong desire for a sense of control, choices and independence.  Toddlers learn more easily by consistency and repetition. 

Here’s our proven 10 best tools;

  • To help them happily engage with the fun and the more mundane tasks of their day, especially around sleep, remind them of the next step of their routine with short concise phrases. If they know what to expect next, there is usually less resistance.  Toddlers learn more easily by consistency and repetition. 
  • It’s ideal for toddlers ( and a healthy share of responsibility) if both parents can alternate participating in or managing the bedtime routine, settling to sleep, overnight waking. This usually needs a practical plan that can work between the work and other life pressures of both parents. 
  • Either parent can alternate with bath and books then bedtime. If there is currently a favoured parent, then include the other parent in the enjoyable part of the evening routine such as bath or books for a time. 
  • Toddlers better respond to your tone of voice and facial expressions. Saying “no” too often during the day devalues it’s impact. Aim to use a firm, calm tone and get down low to their level with  “no” associated mainly with safety, health and wellbeing. Remove them firmly from the area of incidence if everyon’es safety is at risk. 
  • Don’t forget the firm part of gentle parenting, just as important.
  • Your toddler probably has better comprehension than you may realise. But about 5 seconds of listening focus.  So as the parent and leader, firm, calm, confident tone. Concise verbal guidance, rinse and repeat. 
  • You can’t make toddlers sleep! But you can put consistent boundaries by verbal guidance and other tools around where and when they sleep. It can be “quiet time” instead of “sleep time” during the day, staying in their room for a reasonable amount of time and ideally on their bed (even if they read books).
  • When you decide what age appropriate boundaries you want to put in place for your toddler, then consistency and following through is really important. It builds respect and sense of security from your toddler as they learn/accept who is in charge.  
  • Same process as in the adult workplace, what qualities do you admire and respect in an affective leader? Parenting is a leadership role.
  • Toddlers don’t understand mixed messages. And each caregiver needs to be on same page, even at daycare where possible.
  • Practice at implementing boundaries and setting limits builds confidence in your leadership role as a parent.  Seeing the evidence in the results from your toddler’s growing positive response and ultimately delighting in their joyful, curious, active and engaging behaviour is the goal.