With a toddler and a newborn in our house, it seems like we are dealing with a new transition every week. Whether it's potty training our toodler, helping him quit his pacifier and adjust to a big boy bed, or getting our newborn on a schedule, it's hard work. In fact, it's THE hardest work many of us will ever do.
It takes fortitude, preparation, timing and a little bit of serendipity.
There are a ton of books written on each of these milestones. Each requires much of the same planning, so here are a few tips to help you survive the challenges to come.
1. Plan Ahead
This is the most important thing you can do. Be prepared as much as possible for what you're getting into. Read books, talk to your pediatrician, and do your research. But remember that you know your child best. How do you think they will handle a difficult transition? Let your answer guide your plan.
2. Words and Deeds
As you prepare for the transition ahead, talk about it beforehand to help get your child ready. By marrying words to the deeds, it plants a seed in your child's mind.
3. Don't Backslide
Easy to say, hard to do. There will be moments you want to give in. After all, the easy thing to do is let your child sleep in your bed rather than his own big boy bed. Or she'll cry so hard for her pacifier that the simple thing to do is give it to her and allow yourself to get some sleep. Stay strong and stick to your plan.
4. Be Patient
These are the moments that deep breaths are made for. Children test parents at every turn. Prepare yourself mentally and physically for the inevitable tests to come.
5. Keep It Light and Positive
If the transition you're working on doesn't come easily, try not to show your frustration. Kids pick up on adult cues. Stay positive and find something good to say. It could be as easy as "Good try. We'll work on it again tomorrow." Let it go at that.
6. You Never Know…
Whichever transition you face, it's uncharted territory for your child. You cannot predict how they will react. Some transitions that might be seem challenging will be a breeze. Others, not so much. Convince yourself that you can handle anything. Then prove it.
7. Ask Around
How did your parenting friends handle similar situations? Their advice might prove invaluable. Conversely, their experience might be completely different from yours. But as the saying goes, knowledge is power.
8. Cool It on the Comparisons
Speak to your friends, but don't too caught up in what the parents down the street did and how quickly their child got potty trained or adjusted to a sleep schedule. Each baby and each child is unique. Plus, the only reality you should stay focused on is your own.
No matter how quickly or slowly the transition occurs, positive reinforcement is a must. Discuss the transition during the day to remind your child how proud you are of her.
Another way to reinforce is to reward your child. It can be as simple as a treat when she goes potty or a special outing when she transitions to her big bed. The bottom line is that a small reward can help usher in big changes.
11. Stick to It
You will want to give up. You will criticize yourself and your child. You will be frustrated. Accept it and realize it's temporary. Then get back to business.
12. Walk With Baby Steps
Success will not occur overnight. Just when you think your kid has something mastered, they will show that they really don't. That's ok. That's when your child needs you the most — not to be disappointed, but to be understanding. This is when you both learn perseverance.
13. Take One Thing at a Time
Many of these transitions occur around the same time. Focus on one big task, make sure it sticks and then move on to the next one. Don't overload your child or yourself. Allow him to enjoy the confidence that comes with accomplishing one task. It might even make the next transition a little bit easier.
And remember, these transitions are minor compared with the major milestones that loom ahead — going to school, dating, and driving. You will likely need a new list of tips to deal with those.