Children, especially toddlers, thrive on routines and boundaries. Having set schedules and clear rules give them a sense of structure and security. Toddlers feel safe and comfortable when they know what to expect. This is why it’s essential to tell them what they are about to do, where they are going, and the schedule for the day.
Of course, this doesn’t mean they will always follow your rules and boundaries! A toddler’s life is about testing limits and seeing how much they can get away with. Don’t take it personally! Testing boundaries doesn’t mean they will be rule-breakers as they get older. This just means that they are behaving like typical toddlers.
While it can be tricky, the burden of sticking to boundaries is on you, the parent. Yes, it’s challenging and very tempting to give in sometimes, but it works better for everyone to follow rules and boundaries already set and explained to your toddler.
Let’s take bedtime, for example. Your typical routine is a bedtime story, a goodnight kiss, and lights off. This has been your routine for months, and it works for everyone. One night, your toddler asks for two stories instead of one. You read two stories, and she goes to bed. You give in because “it’s just this one time,” and you’re too tired to argue.
However, the next night, she asks for two stories again. When you tell her that you only read one at bedtime, she will tell you that you read two the previous night, so why can’t you read two stories again tonight?
And this is how issues begin. From lights off, your toddler might suddenly ask for a nightlight, an extra snack before bed, or an extra trip to the bathroom, and before you know it, your bedtime routine is now an hour long. You step back and think, where did you go wrong? The answer is that you didn’t stick to your boundaries.
Remember that toddlers see the world in black and white. It’s hard for them to understand that sometimes the answer is a yes, and sometimes it’s a no to the same question. For us adults, we know that sometimes situations change, and we need to be more flexible. For toddlers, it is easier to follow the rules when the boundaries are always the same.
Being consistent doesn’t mean that your toddler will stop trying to push boundaries and bend the rules. You must realize and accept that this is part of their childhood, and it helps them understand their world better. It’s also important to re-evaluate your rules once in a while to see if you need to change something that’s no longer working for you and your family.
Change is inevitable, and if your child needs modified rules, you can change them to make them work better for you and your family.
High-quality sleep is crucial if you want your child to be well-rested and in a good mood during the day. Setting well-explained and reasonable boundaries are essential to a peaceful bedtime routine; sticking to them helps you and your child get the vital sleep you need.