By Bette Freedson, LICSW, LCSW, CGP
“If Only I knew then…” How often do working mothers, or any mothers, say that to themselves as they think back on the toddler ages of their kids?
Toddlerhood comes on with a fury of needs and activities that keep mom’s reflexes responding and her head spinning. There is barely time to meet every need and deal expertly with every situation whether the mother is working inside or outside the home—or, as is often the case– both. Realizations of what could have been done differently, and lessons learned, are often revealed in reflections of the past.
What some of the older moms have learned through experience might be helpful to some of the younger moms now in that wild, wooly and wonderfully sweet period called Toddler.
Here is what I learned then– that I know now–and wish I had known thenâ€¦
- Believe in the unconditional love of your toddler for you.
- Set realistic and reasonable limits.
- Stay consistent in your reactions and responses as much as possible.
- Keep disciplinary measures short and to the point.
- Depersonalize your child’s reactions to discipline, limits, and you.
- Keep in mind that children of toddler ages are concrete thinkers, and are not born with innate understanding of concepts grownups may take for granted.
- Know that curiosity is normal. Give answers that are short and make sense. Toddlers do better without tons of detail.
- Inform yourself about normal emotional development.
- Trust you have no need to fear their fears. Know that it is okay for them to need reassurance and a sense of security.
- “Me” time is important. No need for guilt.
- Adopt the motto: This too shall pass. —Second motto: Chaos will not make me crazy.
- Know you deserve to have support.
Bette J. Freedson, LICSW, LCSW, CGP is the author of the “Relax and Learn Seminars: Skills For All Seasons,” a repertoire of workshops based on the principles of effective stress management. In her work Ms. Freedson emphasizes the power of the mind/body connection to improve decision-making, increase effective coping, reduce time wasted in conflict, boost morale and productivity at work, and create greater harmony in relationships.
Ms. Freedson practices clinical social work at The Listening Place in Lynn, Massachusetts. Besides maintaining an additional private practice in South Berwick, Maine, Bette is Social Work consultant to Maine School Administrative District #35.