Tips and Tricks: 10 Tips for Parenting During the Post-Toddler Years

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A few years ago, when our eight year-old son was three-and-a-half years-old and we were embroiled in potty training and power struggles, we were telling an older friend about the travails of our situation. He listened patiently, but when we were done, said, "Be grateful. They may be physically exhausting to you when they're young, but they become emotionally exhausting when they're older." Though I have yet to have a teenager in the house, I felt the wisdom of his words and have learned to appreciate the younger years more.

Indeed, the "post-toddler" years, from four years-old to eight years-old, can be so interesting from a parent's perspective. Kids that age are generally active, trying to be independent, growing seemingly exponentially, but still so young and cute.

By four, most kids are potty-trained, though many continue to have nighttime bed-wetting problems. The challenges and rewards of raising one of these youngsters were talked about a lot at a MomItForward Twitter Girls' Night Out party back in August, sponsored by Goodnites. Some great tips were shared on motivating and instilling confidence in your kids, handling bedwetting hiccups smoothly, and other tricks of the trade.

10 Tips for Parenting During the "Post-Toddler" Years

  1. Layer bed sheets. Changing sheets at 1 a.m. after a bedwetting is not a good time. @MyBrownBaby offered this tip for reducing strife: "Have a sheet on the bed, a waterproof sheet protector, then another sheet, etc." When there's an accident, just strip off the top-most sheet and sheet protector. She also suggests  keeping a towel, clean jammies, and cleaning products in one centralized, nearby location.
  2. Invest in or make a visual chore chart. Tweeters totally agreed that they are a much better motivator than a nagging parent. @7onashoestring, for instance, said: "My children do well with visual chore charts. They enjoy following it on their time."@MyBrownBaby said: "Chore charts made life much easier when my girls were toddlers; they had to do as the paper said—period. And then they just got into the habit of doing the chores set up on the paper. It was genius." @WhateverDeedee offers free chore jar/sticks on her blog.
  3. Assign simple tasks to instill confidence. @DrRobyn says, "I love using tasks like learning how to (1) tie shoes (2) do laundry (3) pack own bag to help confidence grow." @KikaRose offers this as well: "Another thing that bolsters self confidence? Let them fail and see the world doesn't end. Also let them see YOU fail."
  4. Focus on persistence, not perfection, with bedwetting elimination and other endeavors. @DrRobyn says, "It keeps the pressure off while still encouraging children. Focus on personal, incremental successes rather than perfection or how they compare to others."
  5. Keep diaper wipes on hand, even when kids are older. They're invaluable for impromptu, on-the-go clean-up, says @MeaganFrancis and many others.
  6. Have realistic expectations. Bedwetting is still very common at age 5, for instance, says @MeaganFrancis.
  7. Keep an activity bag in the car, says @CleverlyChangin.
  8. Offer specific praise, even if it's on small things. @OneMommy1 says "giving GOOD praise works for us—not generic like "that's fine"...but "I like how you...." And @HandsOnAsWeGrow says, "Constantly focusing on the positives is easier said than done, but definitely works."
  9. Stick to what you say. @KCarrp says: "My main advice: Don't make idle threats. You'll lose credibility."
  10. Enjoy it all. @Tween_Mom says: "It's challenging but please try to enjoy it. This is the last time they will need you this much again."

Photo courtesy of  Sujin Jetkasettakorn.

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