It’s important to recognize that it’s not you they’re protesting. It’s the feelings of instability.

Feelings of instability are activated when we feel physically and emotionally vulnerable.

Children navigate feelings of physical and emotional vulnerability as a constant from birth to about 5 years old.

In the first 5 years of life, children are motivated to seek:

Connection |Emotional Stability

Attention |Stability in Care and Safety

Physical Ability | Stability of Physical self

Mental Developmental Learning Ability | Stability of Capability

This is unconscious, instinctive, and consistent, and it’s these factors that motivate resistance.

The child who is throwing a…

Below is an exchange between me and a Mom from my Private Facebook Group

“Hi Sarah! My 11 year old daughter asked me to read her journal after she wrote about feeling ugly, compared to another girl at her school and it just broke my heart. I am not sure what to say to her to make it better wothout burdening her with how this makes me feel. Any insight? Thank you for your expert advice!”

Yes! Happy to help! …

Children, especially ones under 5, are reliant on their primary caregivers for survival. It is an innate awareness in them that they are unconsciously and systematically navigating. The preferences from one parent to the other are not personal but survival-based.

When a child recognizes one parent is more available than the other, they fight to keep it that way because their need for care and connection is crucial. They are protecting and preferring that relationship as it’s the one that has proven to be the most consistent with providing results.

This has nothing to do with a child’s lack of…

Want to lower the stress and anxiety around family outings with your toddler in tow? Set an expectation ahead of time!

Pre Outing Prep, gather together to discuss the plan and individual roles during this activity to create focus

“In a moment we are going out for a walk. First we will all put our shoes and jackets on. Then we will all walk gently down the driveway together. Jack, who’s hand would you like to hold while walking down the driveway? Mine or Daddy’s? “Running into the street is NOT available. Holding my hand and asking me if you…

An excellent and spot on synopsis by Dr. Aliza Pressman, a developmental psychologist and cofounder of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center & Dr. Blair Hammond, the other cofounder of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center and a general pediatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Myth 1: “The ‘terrible twos’ are indeed terrible.”

Pressman: That is a myth. Though you may feel like they’re terrible, and so it’s also personal. It’s not that it’s terrible twos, it’s having the developmentally appropriate expectations of what a 2-year-old is capable of. …

Below is an exchange between me and a Mom of a Toddler from my Private Facebook Group: How to get your Toddler to Listen

Mom’s Question: Hi! I have a 9 month old little boy. Right now I feel really confused as to what he understands and he doesn’t! When I say, stop throwing your food on the floor or stop trying to crawl off the changing table during a diaper change, or please please please nap in your crib, does he understand or am I wasting my breath? …

Below is an exchange between me and a Mom of a Toddler from my Private Facebook Group: How to get your Toddler to Listen

Hi Sarah! Currently having trouble with biting. My son seems to want to test out his new teeth on me. When it does happen, I do not make any sort of reaction (otherwise, he thinks it’s funny), then get on his level and try to explain to him why we do not bite. I have noticed it only happens when he is overly excited. Totally lost on what else to do. 🤷‍♀️

My Answer:

Toddlers bite…

Below is an exchange between me and a Mom of a toddler and an infant from my Private Facebook Group: How to get your Toddler to Listen

Mom’s Question: “Hi! Oh my god, lots of pinching, biting, peeing on the ground (even though he is potty trained) and not listening to me AT ALL. There’s a new baby in the house (6 months old, who I breast feed and have to give lots of attention) and my 2.5 year old is so rough and mean to him (forceful pinching, ramming his head on the baby’s head, biting, taking away toys…

Ask Permission

Always ask permission as a sign of respect and consideration for the child’s experience and perspective.

May I check your diaper, please?

Approach with a gentle stride and a calm demeanor. Place your hand on their back and sweetly ask, “may I check your diaper? Then wait for 7 to 10 seconds, giving them time to register the question. Some children will say “yes or no” others will shift their bottom out, as a non-verbal “sure,” and now you can gently pull the diaper out to peer in. If the diaper does not need changing, say, “Thank you, looks good.” Always, always say thank you.

May I change your diaper, please?


# 1 Be Specific

Be clear and direct when giving children instruction. Use specific details, location and point to the area you are speaking of.

EXAMPLE: “Please pick up the small red box with your 2 strong hands and (now point to the shelf) please put it on the shelf next to the green frog.”

Then stop talking and let that instruction settle in. Stay silent until they complete the task. If they seem to need more instruction, try to be even more specific but wait 7–10 seconds before repeating and use as many as the same words as you did the first time.

Sarah B. Alperin

Toddler Behavior & Respectful Child Care Expert

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