10 Tips for a Happy Toddler

Hey there, Mama!

Are you wondering how to raise a happy kid?

Are looking for practical strategies to resolve conflict, build character, and create peace in your home?

Here are 10 random-but-helpful tips and tricks that make my day-to-day life with a little one happier. I use these on a regular basis because each one brings a bit more peace to my child, to me, and to our home.

Try them on for size, take what is helpful, and share with a friend!

  1. Don’t grab.


2. Blankies stay in bed.

When I was a new mom, I loved the way my daughter’s silky blankie would comfort her in bed, but I didn’t love how that blankie affected her during the day. She’d drape her blankie over their head, roll around on the ground with it, whap her little sister… Blankie seemed to lull my otherwise spunky kiddo into a slow, mushy, moody, whiner.

Also? Every evening at about 5-minutes-before-bedtime, blankie suddenly disappeared. Just when we were ready to dial down for the evening, we’d have to embark on an epic blankie hunt and find it in some obscure place like under the neighbor’s couch or in Grandmom’s cookie jar. (Not really, but close.)

That’s why 10 years ago, I made one of my most significant motherhood decisions ever: blankies stay in bed. We always know where they are (in bed!) and they don’t slow my kiddos down or cause pesky problems during the day.

3. Change your mind.

4. Don’t ask if you really don’t want to know.

When you want your child to play outside because you know it is good for your child, don’t ask, “Do you want to play outside?” Your child will say, “No”. Then you have a battle to fight. Simply say, “Let’s go outside!”

Don’t ask, “Do you want to clean up your toys?” Say, “I’ll help you clean up your toys!”

Don’t ask, “Are you ready for bed?” Say, “It’s time to say “good night!”

Don’t ask for your child’s opinion or preference if you cannot honor their answer. Of course, we should offer our children options and help them to make choices throughout the day, but we mamas need to discern the difference. Show your child that you can make wise decisions on her behalf and that you love things to go her way when possible and beneficial.

5. Give your child 2 options.

6. Make funny sounds when clipping fingernails.

Sometimes my child’s fingernails grow so quickly that I wonder if we should pursue a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.  But I just can’t bring myself to go for it, so fingernails must be clipped eventually. But it can be such a dramatic hassle, right? My sister gave me this tip: Tell your child that each fingernail is going to make a funny sound when it is clipped. Then, when you clip a nail, moo like a cow, beep like a truck, boing like a bouncy ball. Your kiddo may love it and you may get through it with less drama than ever before!

7. Ask, “Will you obey?”

My life was forever changed when I read an article by Ann Voskamp about the power of giving a child the choice to obey. Instead of demanding immediate obedience without grace, verbally offer your child the choice that he or she must make. This is how our Heavenly Father pursues us, offering us the dignity of a choice and appealing to our affection, always asking, “Will you obey?”. I have discovered that when asked in a loving way, children often – and gladly – respond, “yes, I will obey”.

8. Help your child to stop whining by asking “What’s the solution to your problem?”


9. “Yes, please or no, thank-you?”

A friend of mine was serving lunch to her kiddos, asking them if they’d like some apple slices. In one breath, she said, “Would you like apple slices, yes, please or no, thank you?” Her children politely said, “Yes, please!”

I was impressed by their manners, but I was more impressed by their mama’s wisdom in equipping them for success. She was giving them the words to say, equipping them with the correct response. This is marvelous for little children who are still learning the social norms of manners and are quite forgetful when it comes to adding “please” and “thank you”.

10. Pray Luke 2:52.

The Bible says that Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. It describes Samuel the same way (1 Samuel 2:26). I want my children to walk with God, to be like Jesus, and to love others well, so I ask God for these specific blessings often.

May each of our children grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and people. Then, they will be happy in the best sense of the word.

(BTW, I still have little ones at home and would LOVE to know your tips for a happier tot. Would you share them in the comments? Thanks!)



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