It's no secret that parenting battles can often end in tears, tempers and tantrums (both theirs AND yours!), even before and after the inevitable 'terrible-twos' phase. The good news is that you're not alone, and these are familiar experiences for most parents.
The even better news is that they will eventually grow out of it, but for those ready to wave the white flag, here are my top tips for managing three of the most testing everyday parenting challenges:
1) Fussy Eating
- Fussy eating is a surprisingly common phase of children's development that tends to begin around the time that children realise their ability to exercise independence. The most important thing to remember is that it's usually just a phase, but in the meantime, here's my advice on how to help make mealtimes that little bit easier:
- Children are more likely to respond positively to food they know is good for them. Make sure their portion sizes are appropriate, and remember they learn from your reactions!
- Get kids involved in preparation, and make food look interesting. This can really help your child engage with their food and give them a sense of achievement.
- Be patient - it can take up to 20 attempts before a new food is accepted! Stay calm and give them food that you think is appropriate - not just what they want.
- Whilst you're in the thick of it, fussy eating can seem quite worrying. Although it's unlikely to cause significant nutritional problems, there is no harm in supplementing your child's nutritional intake whilst you try to get them back to healthy eating habits.
- Note: If you are concerned about your child's eating behaviour speak to your GP for help and advice.
- No matter how tired your child is, it can still be a struggle getting your little one to go bed! All parents have the same complaints: 'won't go to bed', 'can't fall asleep' and 'keeps waking up at night'. For a peaceful night's rest, try these simple steps:
- Make sure your kid is active during the day - this will make them feel more tired at bedtime
- Have a regular bed routine every night starting about 30 minutes before they go to bed.
- A warm bath before bed will help them feel sleepy.
- Bedtime stories are really important especially when children are scared to go to bed.
- Try to maintain a consistent sleep time at night and wake time every morning, to help get their bodies used to a regular sleep/wake cycle.
3) Potty Training & Toilet Habits
- Mastering the art of potty training and forming good toilet habits with your child is a challenge that parents are often nervous to tackle. Along with remaining persistent encouraging your child, here is some advice to bear in mind:
- Remember that 'normal' is different for everyone, but what's really important is that going to the toilet isn't difficult or painful. Making sure your child's diet contains lots of fruit and fibre and a good fluid intake will help with regularity.
- Parents often worry that their child might not voice their concerns when they aren't there. Accidents can be embarrassing for children and new environments can increase anxiety, so let them know it's OK to speak up whether that's at home, at a friend's or at school.
- Try to put a consistent toilet routine in place for your child and remember to praise them every time, even if they don't 'perform'. Simple things like putting them on the toilet after breakfast will help them get into a habit.
- Constipation can be common when children reach pre-school age. If you think your child is struggling and you feel you need extra help, don't be scared to ask a healthcare professional if there is anything else you can try to make it easier for them.
Dr Ranj is working with Abbott to highlight the need for more realistic support for parents with fussy eaters. For more information, see fussyeaters.co.uk.