Juli Auclair talks to Jen Singer, author of "Stop second-guessing yourself", about how to parent toddlers and what the most common mistakes are that parents make with toddlers.
Juli Auclair: Raising a toddler is a really big challenge, no question about it, and if you've ever found yourself saying kids should come with a manual, well now, they do and it's called Stop Second-Guessing Yourself The Toddler Years. The author, Jen Singer, is here to tell us some of the biggest mistakes that parents of toddlers make and how to fix them and I'm so glad you're here because, boy, could I use your help? I always find myself saying that to you, but we have toddler so you know. Jen Singer: I had 2 toddlers at the same time because I had a 1-year-old and then a 2-1/2-year-old and I-- Juli Auclair: And that's crazy. Jen Singer: It was absolutely crazy because one would go one way and one would go the other way. Juli Auclair: It's hard to control them. You know, toddlers can be frustrating and exhausting and absolutely wonderful all the same time and I think it's because they're so unpredictable and they throw tantrums that parents, maybe, start using some parenting techniques that they normally wouldn't or shouldn't, right? Jen Singer: Well, that's true. They forget that their toddler isn't their baby anymore and so they go for the easy fix for the bigger problems and that causes larger problems in the long run. Juli Auclair: Okay, let's talk about these 3 big mistakes. For starters, you say, sometimes, parents scrimp on discipline when they shouldn't. Tell me about that, what do they do? I'm probably doing it too. Jen Singer: Well, you know. They're so darn cute, so you think that Oh they're so little, I'll just let some things go and, in fact, 63% of moms surveyed on MommaSaid.net say that during temper tantrums and their kids not listening to them saying no is a big, big problem. However, you've got to just say no and I'll tell you why. When you're in a store and your kids throwing a fit, if you just say, Oh, we're gonna leave if you don't stop that, and then you don't leave, you've now set up for the rest of their lives that they're gonna know that mommy's gonna buckle. So -- Juli Auclair: She's gonna cave. Jen Singer: She's gonna cave if I keep it up. Juli Auclair: So, just saying no is huge. Obviously, you have to do that, but you also recommend a discipline plan. Now, tell me how that works? Jen Singer: Yeah, you have to set a plan and you have to follow that plan and no matter who's watching the child, they have to follow that plan too. So, if you decide that you will not allow temper tantrums in the supermarket, well, then you pick up that kid and you take that kid to the car no matter how much they're screaming and how embarrassing it is and you do that every single time. Juli Auclair: And stay consistent with your spouse, I would imagine, is important. Jen Singer: Your spouse has to do it too, which is sometimes a hard sell, but yes, everyone has to do it and they're gonna know who's the softy. Juli Auclair: Okay. It's usually me. Alright, the next mistake, underestimating what your toddler can do. What do you mean? Jen Singer: My cousin told me that his toddler had just learned how to walk. He turned around for a second, turned back around, and his son was standing in the middle of the kitchen table. That happens. It has. That's toddlerhood and, again, your toddler is not a baby anymore. So, you need to sort of anticipate what they're gonna do, which is really hard to do because they're very crafty little creatures, but what you can do is watch other toddlers who are a little bit older than yours and see what they are getting into and then childproof accordingly. Juli Auclair: So, you need to maybe childproof before you even thought that you should. Jen Singer: Get down on your hands and knees, walk around, think like a toddler, think what can I stick into there? That's what you'll do in order to figure out what your child might get into too. Juli Auclair: Okay but, also, you say you need to let some things go, so you're not sort of in their face every step of the way. Jen Singer: Yeah, you know, your house should have a little spot where your toddler can sort of roam free and you're not yelling no, no, no all the time. Sacrifice your Tupperware for an afternoon, let them play with it because that's how toddlers learn, is through playing. Let them play. Don't make it like a jail cell for them. Juli Auclair: Let them take every single DVD out of the TV compartment. Jen Singer: For us, it was the magnets off the refrigerator, the magnets on the refrigerator. Juli Auclair: They all find something. It's fun for them. Okay, mistake number 3 finally is using short-term solutions that create long-term problems. Jen Singer: This is a big one. On MommaSaid, about a quarter of moms said that they admit to letting their toddlers sleep with them just because they were so exhausted. Juli Auclair: Yikes! Jen Singer: But, now, they're setting up their toddler to think, hey, I slept there last night, I get to do it every night and you can't do that. Again, this goes back to discipline plan. Set up a bedtime plan when it's not bedtime and say, You know, we're not gonna let our toddler sleep on our bed, you're gonna always go to your crib and then stick to that because the moment that you pull away from that, they're gonna remember that one time that you let them float a boat in the toilet or whatever it is. They're gonna remember-- Juli Auclair: Is that what you did in your house? Jen Singer: Yeah, we did that. Juli Auclair: Yeah. Hey, everybody floats a boat every once in a while, but you said that you also need to keep it simple because they can stretch out bedtime. My son needs to get extra drink and a little back rub, and a book, and there's always something else. How do you stop that? Jen Singer: Well, if you keep that up, they're gonna act like, you know, Britney Spears at the Four Seasons and expect that every night and before you know, your bedtime ritual is an hour and a half long. Keep it as simple as possible. Read a book, change the diaper, put him to bed. That's it. Juli Auclair: Alright, it sounds like I need to go home and set some rules. Jen Singer, it's always a pleasure to have you. Thank you so much for coming in. Jen Singer: Thank you. Juli Auclair: Alright, and if you need a little more help maintaining your sanity, they are plenty of more tips in Jen's book, Stop Second-Guessing Yourself The Toddler Years. It is in bookstores now. Go get it. Thanks for watching Parents TV. See you soon.