What is the secret to a happy toddler? Unconditional love, definite boundaries, and a loving, nurturing, secure environment filled with people who love both him and each other are some of the most crucial ingredients to toddler happiness.
A Recipe for a Happy Toddler
Here’s the lowdown on some of the ingredients that go into making a jolly and energetic toddler.
- Unconditional love means love that doesn’t change—in quality, quantity, or strength—no matter what response it gets or how unlovely the recipient is. It means that you’ll love your toddler just as much when he’s a screaming demon throwing things around the room, screaming, and pulling your hair as you do when he’s a gentle charmer, picking forget-me-nots in the yard and bringing them to you in a bouquet. And you’ll let him know that he’s loved no matter what. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences for wrong choices or actions, but it means that those consequences will be dealt out in love.
- Definite boundaries means, to a toddler, security. Your toddler acts as if he want a life without boundaries, but to get that wish granted would actually make him miserable. He needs the structure of definite boundaries that he is not allowed to cross, with definite consequences for crossing them.
- A loving, nurturing environment is another key to a happy and bouncy toddler. It’s not enough to be loved, and to have people focused on pouring love into you and giving you security and the definite boundaries you need. If those people don’t love each other, the toddler in the middle is going to end up confused, hurt, and scared; a victim of a maelstrom that he wasn’t even a part of. So if you want to raise a happy, confident, toddler, love on his dad, love on his mom, love on his brothers an sisters.
What a Happy Child is… and Isn’t.
Since your goal is to have a happy toddler, think for a moment what a happy child is—and isn’t. A cheerful toddler is almost completely unstressed, walks through life confidently, and is sure of the people he is attached to. He can wake up in the morning singing, and go to sleep with a smile on his face.
But it’s important to realize even a happy toddler is allowed to cry sometimes. Hard things happen, and they’re important character building experiences for our toddlers. The difference between a happy and an unhappy child is not that a happy child doesn’t cry; but that he can cry and then wipe his tears and be happy again. He still has troubles, but he has the resilience and inner strength to overcome those troubles and see the sun shining beyond them. An unhappy child doesn’t have that impetus, and is stuck in a forever grey-land.
Give your child the tools to see the world in sunshine and bright colors, and you’ll be giving him one of the greatest gifts in the world. A child who can face anything cheerfully is a child who is capable of finding joy every day of his life, no matter what the big bad world may throw at him.
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