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How to Cope with A Spirited Toddler

by LI JUN 02 Apr 2022

There is no doubt that having a toddler can be particularly challenging. You think the baby days are hard but once they start walking and attempting to talk you enter a whole new chapter of your life that makes things a little more, well, challenging. A toddler can be fun, don’t get me wrong, but a toddler that is described as spirited is a little more complex and requires you to approach the toddler years a little differently.

What is a spirited toddler?

Many experts believe that 1 in 10 children can be described as spirited. There is nothing wrong, or to be concerned about, but there are a few behavioral differences that you may notice that could indicate that your child would be described as spirited. These are:

  • Your child doesn’t accept instruction at face value
  • They fight fiercely for what they believe in, always wanting to be right and be in charge of themselves.
  • Despite their strong-willed nature, they can also be very emotional, sensitive, and can struggle to understand and manage big emotions.

So if you do believe that you have a spirited toddler there are a few things you can do to help you cope. So here are some of the best approaches you can take.

5 Ways to cope with a spirited toddler

Establish a routine and stick to it

One of the first things you need to consider is establishing a routine and sticking to it. Spirited children like order and knowing what is coming, so having a routine and sticking to it is essential. This means things such as a strict bedtime, managing expectations for snacks and mealtimes, and even sticking to similar things. If a routine is going to change, discussing this and giving them warnings can also help.

Routines do need flexibility, but as long as you can loosely follow a routine for the basics, then things won’t be so unsettling when you do decide to do new things.

Set expectations and give warnings

As we have mentioned in the previous point, giving warnings when things are going to change can help your spirited toddler to manage their feelings and reactions to things. You need to consider how you can set expectation levels as well.

For example, to a toddler, you could say that you are going to the park later, but then something comes up which means you can’t go. A quick explanation will be fine, and that would be the end of it. For a spirited toddler, if they have expected to go to the park then they will find it hard to comprehend the change.

So try and manage those expectations and make them aware of things you know will likely not change. Routine is key, and setting expectations and giving warnings for these things can help

Find discipline strategies that are effective

When it comes to your relationship, the trust and bond that you have are of the utmost importance. So you may need to consider what discipline strategies you use and ensure they are effective. There are natural consequences and logical consequences.

Natural consequences are a result of a bad decision. For example, refusing to put on their coat on a winter’s day. A natural consequence would be to go outside and be cold, only for you to have the coat to hand when they eventually give in.

A logical consequence would be to not allow them outside until their coat is on. The logical consequences are ones you choose as a parent whereas the natural consequences will occur all on their own. But the main thing to remember is that it all makes sense. Punishment will deter the bond and trust you build up in most scenarios, so you need to think about how you discipline in a different way.

Your closeness and bond will be your superpower

The main thing to remember with your spirited toddler is that your closeness and your bond will be your superpower. This means that you build up trust and they feel comforted by you and your presence, your closeness, touch, and cuddles. So be mindful of that as you start to focus on how you approach things. You will have a huge impact on your little one.

Be mindful of their emotional needs

Finally, we have mentioned that a spirited child can often struggle with dealing with big emotions, so be aware of that. Using the above strategies can help you to overcome times when emotions can run high.

Hopefully, these tips will help you to cope with a spirited toddler.


About the contributor:

Sarah Anguish is a northerner at heart, now living in Norfolk with her husband and three children. Alongside running a family lifestyle blog she works for her local NHS stop smoking service, juggling the highs and lows of being a working parent around the needs of her busy family.

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