Help Me Grow | United Way of Utah County

11 Helpful Phrases to Confidently Parent the Toddler Years

We’ve all been there (or will be there soon!). Your child is trying to tell you something, but you just can’t figure out what he is trying to say. Your child isn’t ready to be done with the activity he is in the middle of when it’s time to leave. Or maybe you are trying to play referee between two children. My amazing friend and coworker put together some phrases that all parents can benefit from. This list is too amazing and helpful not to share it with everyone!

​1. Show me. It’s so frustrating when you just can’t understand what your child is asking for. Invite your child to show you what he wants. Then name the item to help your child’s vocabulary expand…or prepare to expand when she begins talking.

​2. First we’ll do _____ [i.e. brush teeth], then we’ll do ______ [put pajamas on], and last we’ll do ________ [get in bed for a story].

3. Do you want this or this? Give your little one two options. This is so versatile and can be used anytime. Do you want grapes or strawberries? Do you want the red pajamas or the blue pajamas? Do you want to ride in the stroller or walk beside mommy?

4. Say yes more than no. This helps children become optimistic and drastically reduces whining.

5.  I like the way you _________. Name the behaviors you like. Instead of saying “good job,” try saying, “I like the way you are using your inside voice.” Not only did you tell your child exactly what you liked, you also reinforced what you want behavior you want to see in the future.

6. Do you want his toy? Let’s trade one of yours. Establish the pattern of having him choose a toy to trade. It might also help your child decide if he wants the other toy more than the one he is already playing with.

7. 5 Minute Warning. This trick will seem like magic because it will help your child transition from activities better. You’ll save yourself from bracing for another meltdown because your child isn’t ready to be done yet. A 5 minute warning can also be less or more than 5 minutes – your younger child won’t know the difference, and he will recognize the signal to prepare to change.

8. It’s your turn until the timer goes off, then it’s his turn. Everybody gets a turn. This helps encourage sharing while making the timer the “bad guy.”

9. When you get a little bigger you’ll be able to _____________, but now you can ___________This helps give an appropriate alternative within their skill level.

10. Inside voices, please. This is a great phrase to use when you need your child to lower the volume of his voice.

11. Get your jumps (or wiggles) out, then we’ll goThis is another great phrase to help with transitions.

We hope that some of these phrases can help you TODAY with parenting your toddler. Try out all these phrases and see what a difference it can make in your day today!

Do you have any other favorite phrases that make your life easier? Share them in the comments below.

Tagged under