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The Perfect Parenting Strategy To Shift From Chaos To Calm

Every parent wonders from time to time if they’re approaching this whole parenting thing the best way possible.

We get stuck wondering things like, is this the best way to deal with this? Or am I totally failing as a parent? 

When you’re overwhelmed and confused about what to do, it’s hard to move forward effectively.

The good news is, you can parent with confidence by understanding how to approach any situation with the perfect parenting strategy.

In this post, I’ll define what the perfect parenting strategy is, and provide 3 guidelines to use with your toddler or preschooler to turn your home from chaos to calm. 

I hope this will give you a roadmap so you can get upgrade your parenting strategy and become clear and confident in navigating your way through whatever your toddler or preschooler throws at you – metaphorically or otherwise!

What’s the perfect approach for parenting your toddler or preschooler?

The perfect parenting approach to turn your home from chaos to calm is one that balances warmth and responsiveness with clear expectations and boundaries, also known as authoritative parenting.

This parenting approach is associated with the best developmental, academic, social, emotional, relational, and mental health outcomes for children now, and in the long run.

In other words:

Parents who use this parenting strategy recognize that they don’t have to choose between warmth and supportiveness OR expectations and boundaries.

They embrace both, maximizing the positive impact for encouraging positive behaviour and fostering positive mental health and wellbeing.

And the added benefits is that by adopting this approach, you’ll be able to keep long-term outcomes in mind to become a more calm and consistent parent, preventing a lot of the problems associated with positive-only or punishment-only approaches.

So, what are the key components to the perfect parenting approach? I’m so glad you asked…

Component #1 – Understand and Respond to Your Child’s Needs

The best parenting approach is one that, first and foremost, is characterized by a high level of warmth and responsiveness.

Approach your child with respect, kindness, and empathy.

Acknowledge, understand, and respond to your child’s individual feelings, interests, and needs with sensitivity, acceptance, approval, and affection.

This is a crucial component because it creates a positive emotional atmosphere and promotes strong and healthy parent-child relationships, fostering trust and openness that encourage children to move towards you when they’re in need of advice or emotional support.

It builds a solid foundation for your kids coming to you in later years, instead of moving away from you or hiding difficult situations.

Most parents start out on the right track but then get stuck in feelings of frustration and overwhelm as their babies develop into toddlers and preschoolers.

At this stage, they begin to assert their own individuality – which often includes ignoring, outright defiance, tantrums, and a lot of other big feelings and behaviours.

Parents end up trying different ways of managing the behaviour, but when those approaches don’t work, they become frustrated, reactive, and left feeling anxious, guilty, ashamed, and that they’re failing as parents.  

The key to consistently showing up with high warmth and responsiveness with your toddler or preschooler – especially in those busy or difficult moments – is to put yourself in their shoes. 

To get back on track in those difficult moments, ask yourself this:

  • How would I want someone to respond to me if I was in this situation? Or,
  • If my child was with someone else, how would I expect them to respond in this situation?

This can really help keep things in perspective.

Component #2 – Manage Expectations and Boundaries

Parents who manage expectations and boundaries are in tune with what their child is capable of, set high standards for what’s expected (within their individual capabilities), and encourage and support them in meeting those expectations.

They have firm boundaries around what is and is not acceptable.

And they calmly and consistently follow through when those expectations and boundaries have or have not been met.

If you’ve been calmly and consistently approaching your child with warmth and responsiveness, but it doesn’t seem to be working – like things just aren’t getting better or maybe are even getting worse – this is likely the piece that’s missing. 

Without this component, you can provide all the love and comfort and support possible and still not be able to effectively help your toddler or preschooler with their big emotions or behaviours.

So, what can you do?

A really useful strategy for setting expectations and boundaries is to calmly tell your toddler or preschooler what’s expected, using simple “if, then” or “first, then” language, and follow through.

For example, if your toddler or preschooler is refusing to clean up their toys because they want to go outside, you could say “first, we need to clean up the toys, then we can go outside and play.” And stick to it. 

Or if your child is throwing their food around at the table, you could say something like “If you throw your food again, then I have to take your food away until you’re sitting calmly.” And stick to it.

If your toddler or preschooler does what’s expected, make sure to give lots of praise and positive attention for doing what’s difficult for them in the moment, and meeting your expectations.

If they don’t, it’s important to hold firm on your expectations and boundaries (ie, not go outside and play until the toys are cleaned up, or take their plate away briefly until they’re sitting quietly).

Calm, consistent implementation is key.

Component #3 – Allow Opportunities for Autonomy and Learning

Allowing opportunities for autonomy and learning means that once you state your expectation, you avoid nagging or repeating yourself over and over again.

Instead, give your child the space to decide how to move forward.

This means letting go of control, and understanding that sometimes, they’re not going to meet your expectations and they’re going to cross boundaries.

Allowing your child the autonomy to choose how to move forward, and sometimes to fail, is necessary for them to be able to improve their emotion regulation, behaviour, and accountability.

And beginning this process at a young age will set a strong foundation for later years, when the stakes are much higher!

Here’s where you’ll really start to see your child’s emotion regulation and behaviour improve over time, and where you’ll start to feel more confident in your parenting approach.

Of course, this will take consistency, time, patience, and a lot of practice!

Consider starting with areas that are easiest for your child (and you!) to achieve success and see results, and work up to more challenging situations as your child’s skills improve and your confidence grows.

The approach you can use to start in areas of high probability of success first, is:

  • Choose a situation your child already does most of the time, where the stakes for failing to meet the expectation is low, and opportunities to try again are high.
  • Then use the “first, then” or “if, then” language and follow through
  • Finally, in order to apply it to the areas that really matter, just continue to apply the strategy to increasingly challenging situations, until you’re basically using it throughout your day without even thinking about it!

Once you’ve gone through this process,  you’ll be well on your way to feeling confident in your parenting approach, tackling the chaos, and creating more peace within your child, yourself, and your home!

Putting it All Together for Your Perfect Parenting Strategy

There you have it! The 3 components of your perfect parenting strategy to make the shift from chaos to calm. 

It may sound like a lot, but like most things, practice makes perfect. Just focus on getting 1% better every day.

This will help you make consistent progress over time, and in just a few short weeks I’m confident that you’ll see and feel the difference in yourself, your child, and your home!

What’s next? Download Your Step-By-Step Guide To Using “First, Then” or “If, Then” Language with Toddlers & Preschoolers

If you need help getting started, my Step-By-Step Guide to Using “First, Then” or “If, Then” Language with Toddlers & Preschoolers  will help you start using this strategy the right way so you can help your child, yourself, and your family shift your lives from chaos to calm.

Click here to download Your Step-By-Step Guide To Using “First, Then” or “If, Then” Language with Toddlers & Preschoolers now >>