How to Set a Smart Toddler Schedule

How to set a toddler schedule

Toddlers are known for being testy. While they learn the ways of the world around them, they are constantly learning and exploring, experiencing new things, and processing everything that they are taking in. In addition to learning how to communicate effectively, as well as understand others, a lot of this can be overwhelming for both the child and the parent, which can make getting anything done a challenge.

When it comes to setting up a daily schedule, it helps to stick to a routine, but allow yourself some wiggle room.

Make a List

Knowing what you need to get done is key, but how you will go about doing that may change. Keeping a list can help you stay organized and on-task even when things run a little later than intended or other things come up. When it comes to basic everyday essentials like breakfast, bath time, bed time etc., it helps to have a routine and stick to it. Routines help toddlers adjust to certain tasks, but sticking to them too much without much deviation can be tricky for you and sometimes bothersome for kids, especially if they aren’t sure what to expect or were expecting something else. In either case, routine activities should adhere to the same general rules every day, and all other activities and tasks can be scheduled around them. That way, if something doesn’t go according to plan, you still have the bare essentials down so you can stay on top of things and your toddler can rest easy.

Prioritizing Preparation

With toddlers, it helps to be ready for anything. With kids, it can be hard not to find a single stretch of time, whether it be in the morning before breakfast or right after dinner, where it makes sense to try and get everything done at once. It may make sense at first, but this can conflict with a toddler’s need for structure. Skipping a certain activity, especially if it is one that is part of your regular routine, it helps to have some alternatives in your back pocket to prevent any crankiness. Keep a diaper bag or other purse with some backup snacks, toys, and other tools that can help you in a pinch when you really need to get something done.

Be Flexible

It’s hard to balance structure and routine with being busy and unpredictability, and it can be even more challenging when a toddler is thrown into the mix. If something needs to be changed, rescheduled, or forgotten all together, you want to know that your child will be able to handle it. Routine is good for kids, but they shouldn’t grow too reliant on it either. Teaching them to be adaptable is important, so in between routine play times, snack times, and errands, make sure you add some variety to your daily routine whether it involves scheduling a playdate, going to a different park, or even alternating certain activities on different days.

Minimizing Melt-Downs

Sometimes, things come up and they can’t be ignored. Whether it’s a family emergency or a surprise visit from relatives, the change in routine can be difficult for your child to process if they are still very young. Providing some kind of set schedule and routine can help give kids a sense of normalcy, but it can also be harmful too. This is why no matter what happens, whether it is a an emergency or a small change of plans, it helps to sit down and talk with your child. They may not understand why things need to change and may feel uncomfortable as a result, but providing them with an explanation and some reassurance that things will be fine or certain things can be done later will help instill them with a sense of calm.

Remember, scheduling with a toddler can be difficult. Keep some basic building blocks in mind when it comes to routine, but keep things open, flexible and subject to change if need be. The everyday routine of some activities can give kids the balance and stability they need, but the exposure to the unexpected will help them in the present as well as later in life.

Time-Out Mistakes and How to Solve Them

Child on time out

Disciplining a child can be tough, no matter what your methods, but one time-tested method that many parents resort to is time-out. Time out can be enacted to calm a hysteric, tantrum-throwing child or help drive a point home about certain behaviors. It can also provide kids with time to think about their actions and about how they carry themselves, too. As time-trusted and wide-spread as this method of discipline is, many parents don’t always experience the results they expect to gain from it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends time-outs as an effective discipline strategy, saying that “ignoring, removing, or withholding parent attention to decrease the frequency or intensity of undesirable behaviors” is “especially important in promoting positive child behavior.” But in order for time-outs to be truly effective, parents need to know how to go about enforcing them.

The Empty Threat

Saying you’re going to send a child to time-out might sound like a warning, but for some kids, it could soon become an idle threat that they know won’t be enacted. Sometimes, saying that time-out, or any other disciplinary measure, is imminent can get kids to reevaluate their behavior on the fly and adjust accordingly, but when only threatened enough times, kids may begin to think that time-out is not a reality. When warning kids to use time-out, do so in a firm voice and be prepared to follow through. Like any other punishment, time-out can be adjusted to the situation, but acting on your word can make this method much more effective on a consistent basis.

Too Much or Too Little Time Out

Some experts claim that time-out length should correlate with a child’s age. Kids under the age of two are not likely to be affected by any kind of time-out method, but otherwise time-out (when timed properly) can be helpful. Some studies support the age/minute method, dishing out 2 minutes of time-out for a 2-year-old and 3 minutes for a 3-year-old etc. But others think that a flat, and consistent, five minutes is enough. See what works best for your kids and go from there.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Time-outs don’t help when your child might actually want a time-out. If your child is acting out in places where they already don’t like being, such as the grocery store, giving them a time-out is only giving them what they want. Find other small disciplinary measures to take, such as removing a privilege or a toy, or delaying some other activity later on.

Location, Location, Location

“Go to your room!” may sound like a common disciplinary phrase, but sending a child to their room for time-out may not have the desired or intended effect if their room is full of their own belongings, toys, etc. Find a place where kids are more or less forced to focus on their actions, such as a laundry room or bathroom where they may not forget about their punishment and find themselves distracted.

How to Raise an Optimistic Child

Life can be challenging and difficult. As helpful as it can be to remain realistic about life, optimism still has power to do good things. It can act as a motivator as well as a means of thinking positively, even if things don’t turn out the way you expected. Being optimistic can help provide you with a perspective that is healthy but helpful, and raising a child to be optimistic can be both enriching and enlightening as a parent.

A New Twist on Complaining

Finding something to complain about is easy, but if you stop and catch yourself you might realize that the thing you were griping about wasn’t actually that bad. Kids mimic their parents’ behaviors, and things like constant complaining can be something they learn from you if you do it often enough. Complaining comes naturally, and it’s easy to give in to feeling annoyed or inconvenienced, but if you stop and think for a moment, you may be able to find a positive side to things. Kids can learn a lot from this kind of behavior, and if you find your child complaining too, don’t discredit their feelings but instead provide an alternative. If your child is complaining that they can’t go to the park because it’s raining, provide them with ideas for indoor activities, get them excited about the other things they can do instead. This kind of behavior can become a habit, and when it’s second-nature, you may find yourself naturally complaining less – and your kids as well.

Work Together

If there is something bothering your child, take the time to ask them about it and work along with them to find a solution. Sometimes, if things aren’t working out, kids may want to quit or give up what they’re doing, whether they are trying to solve a math problem for homework or learn how to ride a bike. Providing support and encouragement can help kids learn valuable lessons, especially when they see that they aren’t alone.

Share a Story

For kids, everything is new. When new problems or scenarios develop, it may be a completely fresh experience for them. When things go wrong, or not as expected, kids may feel sad, upset or even devastated. Try to share a similar story from your everyday life or your childhood to show them that everyone has difficulties and that they can be overcome. Providing a similar success story, or even a not-so-successful story, can help kids relate to others while also being less hard on themselves when things don’t go their way.