The Best Parenting Tips For Toddlers From Childcare Professional

Parenting can be challenging at any stage of a child's life, especially if you're a new parent.

You may be comforted to know that decades can go by before you master the "tricks of the childcare trade," which took nanny and child expert Laura Amies 22 years in the industry to learn, she revealed in a viral video on TikTok, where it received over 34,000 likes at the time of writing.

Speaking to Newsweek, Amies—also known as the "Toddler Tamer" from the television documentary series Toddlers Behaving (Very) Badly on Channel 5 in the U.K—said she has "a passion for sharing heartfelt, logical advice which can have a positive impact on family life."

Here we unpack a few of Amies' top parenting tips...

1,2,3...You or Me?

This technique is used "when a child is struggling to toe the line," Amies said in the video, such as when it's not snack time yet your child is clammering up on the side of the kitchen, trying to "hunt out their own snacks."

Or it might be the case that you think your child has had enough time in front of the television and the remote needs to be put away now.

The idea behind this technique is that we want the child to start building "that foundation of making good decisions" and "to understand that even when we don't want to do something, sadly sometimes we've just got to," Amies explained.

A woman reading a book to toddler.
A woman reading a book to a toddler on a sofa. A video of a nanny with 22 years of experience in the industry sharing her "tricks of the childcare trade" has gone viral on TikTok. iStock/Getty Images Plus

In an article for the Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit based in New York City, Grace Berman, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), said: "The more decisions they [children] can make, the more practice they will have."

It's also crucial to enter a dialogue with your kids about decisions that impact them, such as deciding whether to attend a friend's birthday party, for example.

Clinical psychologist Rachel Busman told the Child Mind Institute: "It's really important to include kids in those conversations because you're modeling a lot of really great skills.

"You're also conveying that your child's thoughts and opinions are important, and that there are many points that go into making a decision," she said.

Use Calm, Clear Simple Language

For example, in the case of the television time scenario, you could tell your child: "I'm going to count to three. When I get to three, you can find a remote for the remote control or I will," Amies said.

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

Amies said if kids come to see that we're true to our word it helps them "process where their boundaries lay and respect that what you say is true."

For example, a parent may attempt to influence their child's behavior with threats such as "If you do that, Santa won't bring you any gifts."

Amies said: "In that moment, a child understands that they should behave purely to receive a gift. And the chances are, 'Santa' will ALWAYS bring a gift, so even if the child goes on to behave in a negative way, there's no opportunity to learn where that boundary is."

Follow Through, Be Consistent

Amies said: "Depending on how loose or firm your boundaries are on these kinds of things, it's going to take your child a little while to figure out" where you stand on the matter.

In the case of the aforementioned television scenario, Amies said if you were to tell your child to "put the remote down" and your child said "No!" and then you say "Ugh, fine" before going off and doing whatever you need to do, "your child knows that boundary is quite flexible."

She said: "If that's the situation that you're in, it's totally fine. But just know that you have got to be firm, consistent, calm."

The nanny noted "it's really easy to find yourself on repeat" when it comes to asking a child to do something, especially when you are busy and multi-tasking.

"However, children are very good at figuring out where your focus truly lies," so if you repeat your request several times, while focusing on other tasks, "they do not get a sense of urgency or desire to hop to it," she said.

The most effective way of getting a child to do what you've asked them to do is by "dropping to their level, placing a hand on their arm to make a connection with them and making eye contact whilst clearly stating my request," Amies said.

She would then "inspire motivation" using a phrase like "I'm going to go [insert place], I wonder if you can have your shoes on before I come back....go, go, go!"

Stephanie Cox, a licensed mental health counselor based in Florida, said: "Consistency is the most effective way for parents to enact effective behavior change in their children," in a February 2022 article for Psychology Today.

Be Predictable

Amies said that when you've carried out the "1,23...You or Me?" technique enough times and have seen it through, meaning "you've meant what you said and your actions have backed up your words," that's when "the magic happens" and you see that your child is learning lessons.

...And Supportive

Amies noted it's also important to be understanding of your child and support them through this new lesson they're learning. "Even though it's frustrating for them, it's a new lesson and they need your help," she said.

Notice the Good

The nanny added it's so easy to "develop a negative narration in relation to children's behaviors," because "life is busy, often stressful and children will naturally push against boundaries and require huge amounts of patience, which is tough."

She advised, wherever possible, to "notice the good stuff." For example, make a point of telling them that you spotted how kind they were or how lovely their drawing is.

Building their self esteem with supportive phrases like "I can see how hard you tried to build your lego" will have a ripple effect and generate more positive behaviors, "the opposite of which can be said when we only ever comment on the negative," she warned.

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