When you have a child, you'll inevitably experience some trying times that leave you questioning your parenting abilities. When you have a toddler, those trying times are pretty frequent. More often than not, you'll probably wonder if you're doing a good job or raising your child "correctly." Thankfully, and somehow, toddlers seem to just know when you need a confidence boost, despite their limited vocabulary. The ways toddlers tell you you're parenting well, even if they may not be verbal, can be everything you need to gain some self-confidence back and, personally, I think those non-verbal reminders are just the best.
Don't get me wrong, I will always love it when my daughter says, "Thank you" and "I love you," especially when both are said on one of our harder days. However, there's just something about the actions she uses to show me her feelings that make those two sentiments all the more powerful. After all, actions do speak louder than words. Through all the toddler tantrums and her frivolous use of the word "no," I know that my daughter feels safe and connected to me and that, my friends, is everything.
So, when and/or if you're down and doubting your parenting abilities, stop and look for the clues your toddler might be using to tell you that you are, in fact, doing an absolutely wonderful job. It might take a while to notice and might be something relatively "little," but when your toddler does the following things, chances are it means you're a great job at this whole parenting thing.
They Smile And Laugh At You, Regularly
The best sound in the world is hearing your child laughing. The best thing you can possibly see is a giant smile on your kid's face. Well, at least to me. It is such a sweet sound to her and sight to see, and it definitely means you're doing something right. Your child is in a happy, healthy environment where they feel comfortable expressing their joy.
They Give You Hugs And Kisses
There's something in the power of a hug or kiss that just give you that extra boost of confidence in yourself and what you are doing. When your toddler sets out to give you a hug or kiss (especially when it's unprompted) you can be assured that it's because they think you've done something right.
When They Pat Your Back
This is one of my favorite ways my daughter tells me I'm doing a "good job" parenting. Every night before she goes to bed, we give hugs and kisses. On days that have been particularly trying, my daughter will hold on a little extra tight during her "goodnight" hug, and then pat my back as if to say, "Good job today, mom". This always warms my heart and puts a smile on my face. Thanks baby girl.
They Want To Cuddle With You
If your child is anything like mine, they are constantly on the go and never have time to cuddle or stop to even sit for a snack. This makes it even more special when they do take the time to stop running around, and they do want to cuddle with you. Maybe they're tired, sure, but I'd like to think it's because they realize that you're doubting yourself, and need a solid cuddle session.
They Make You A Treat Or Meal
Whether they help you or have someone else help them, making mom an appreciative meal is never a bad thing.
Make You A Present
Aren't presents from your children the absolute best? I mean, sure, they're kind of awkward (especially when made by a toddler) but they're adorable and they don't have to look "perfect" in order to be perfect. Give me a paper with a bunch of squiggly lines on it, and I'm happy.
They Give You A Thank You Card
Cards from the store are nice; it's at least a sentiment and an acknowledgement of your efforts. However, a homemade "thank you" card is even better. Not only is it a show of appreciation for you and what you do, but it also shows that you have successfully taught them how to be well mannered and to recognize that not everything that is done for them has to be done. You do it because you care and you love them. This is a recognition of your good parenting and your success. Enjoy it.
They Behave In Public (Most Of The Time. Maybe.)
My grandma has always said it doesn't matter if they behave at home, as long as they behave in public. Of course, that sentiment is somewhat outdated because, hey, kids are going to misbehave in public. Toddler meltdowns are a very real thing and if your kid is "acting out" in public, it rarely has anything to do with your parenting and everything to do with your kid simply being a kid.
However, when they behave in public, that always feels like a win. Because I believe you should take your wins when you can, don't feel guilty about taking full responsibility for a successful trip in public, while simultaneously realizing that when your kid throws a public tantrum, it's not your fault.
They Practice Their Manners
You may practice manners at home, but the real test comes when you are out with others. At my house, we have a routine of asking my daughter what she says when she wants something and she will then say "please." She doesn't usually just come up and do it without prompting first, though. So I know I have been successful in teaching her manners when she goes to her grandparents and, without prompting, uses her manners.
They Willingly Help Others
Most, if not all, toddlers only see so far as themselves, which is par for the course. I mean, they're toddlers; their worlds are small and they're egocentric by nature, because they're still learning and developing. However, if your toddler takes time away from their playtime to help clean or cook or pick up, you know you have been successful because they have begun the mature act of putting others before themselves. They are beginning to act selflessly and moving away from the "mine" and "me" stage (thank goodness, right?). This isn't going to happen regularly (probably) and if it doesn't happen, it doesn't mean you're doing something wrong. However, when and if it does happen, put a tally in the ole "win" column, my friend.
It's the little things in life that make a big difference, and t's the little things your toddler does that ensures you are doing a good job parenting.