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Teaching Toddlers About Flexibility

Teaching tiny minds the art of flexibility – because life's twists and turns are best navigated with an open heart and an adaptable spirit.

A few weeks ago I posted a story on Instagram about a bedtime struggle over the color of a hair tie (pictured below):

I was flooded with DMs that fell into two categories (1) Lead by example - you are being inflexible, just give her the hair tie and (2) Tell me what you learn because we struggle with this too.

In the enchanting realm of toddlerhood, every day is a new adventure – a journey through the magical landscapes of imagination and discovery. As we guide these precious souls along their path, we find ourselves not just teaching, but learning too.

I did not cave over the hair tie. In fact, her sister even offered her hair tie, but the distraught twin declined. In the days that followed, she proactively selected her hair tie when she got out of the bath until one night she forget and told me she would be flexible.

We integrated talks of flexibility into our daily routine - what we were eating, who was going first, what we were going to do etc, to show that “sometimes we get and sometimes we don’t” and in the case of twin sisters, we often alternate who gets to pick.

I also started to reward flexibility. For example, when fighting over the same carseat, I said whoever was flexible and picked the other one would get to pick the TV show we watched while Mom cooked dinner.

And you know what - IT WORKED! Is it perfect? No. But we are leaps and bounds better than we were a month ago! So stick with it! And remember, parenting is hard. Let’s build each other up instead of knocking each other down. Link to our Reel with more details.

Sharing 10 Tips to help teach your toddlers about flexibility:

  1. Model Flexibility: Children often learn by observing adults. Demonstrate flexibility in your own life, whether it's adapting to unexpected changes, trying new things, or handling frustrations calmly.

  2. Set Realistic Expectations: Understand that toddlers have limited control over their emotions and impulses. Be patient and don't expect them to be as flexible as adults.

  3. Provide Choices: Offer choices when appropriate. For example, let them choose between two outfits, two snacks, or two activities. This helps them feel a sense of control and builds their decision-making skills.

  4. Gradual Transitions: When transitioning from one activity to another, give them a warning. For example, say, "In five minutes, it will be time to clean up and go to bed." We also love to use our Google Home to set a timer that they can watch. This allows them to mentally prepare for the change.

  5. Routine and Consistency: While flexibility is important, routines provide a sense of security for toddlers. Maintain consistent routines for meals, naps, and bedtime to help them feel more secure.

  6. Problem-Solving: Encourage problem-solving by asking questions like, "What can we do if it starts raining and we can't go to the park?". This helps them think critically and adapt to changing circumstances.

  7. Positive Reinforcement: Praise and reward your toddler when they demonstrate flexibility. Recognize and celebrate their efforts to adapt to new situations or handle changes calmly.

  8. Teach Emotional Regulation: Help them identify and manage their emotions. Use simple language to describe feelings, like "I can see you're feeling frustrated right now. Let's take some deep breaths together."

  9. Be Patient and Understanding: Toddlers may resist change or become upset when things don't go their way. Offer comfort and understanding during these moments. Use soothing language and reassure them that it's okay to feel the way they do.

  10. Encourage Independence: Let them do things for themselves, even if it takes longer or results in a bit of mess. This fosters independence and adaptability.

Remember that teaching flexibility is an ongoing process, and every child develops at their own pace. Be consistent, patient, and supportive as your toddler learns to navigate the ever-changing world around them.


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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm Kristen, a first-time Mom of identical twin girls who are 3. I work full-time, teach group fitness classes, and am on the wild ride of motherhood.

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