A Warning About Toddlers and Routines


I had been doing some reading about how toddlers love routine.  That they feel secure when they know what to expect throughout their day.  And toddlers love to be independent and do things they know they can accomplish.  So like any learning, diligent, first-time mom, I did my best to keep my son’s days rather structured so he would be comfortable.  Over the past year, I have noticed that this approach has backfired on me in certain areas.  I’m not saying that structure is bad, I am saying that I should have been careful how it was implemented.  Yes, the set meal and nap times were good, but overly praising & asking him to help with certain tasks has made him feel that they are his duty.

He is the King (self-appointed) of closing the refrigerator door + all doors, vacuuming and flushing the toilet. He doesn’t care who is using it, his job is to flush and he takes his work very seriously.

He MUST carry his own plate, bowl or cup – which can be problematic if it’s something that spills & stains like spaghetti.

He MUST jump off the bottom step and if you are there you MUST hold his hand or he has a complete meltdown until you take him back to the stairs to redo his jump.

He is the only person in this house that is allowed to use the juicer.  I let him juice ONE time and it was all over from there.  If you want juice made, he’s your guy.

I know, I know, it’s a lot.  He is now much more structured than me and strong-arms my fairly free spirit by strictly sticking to these routines.  I’ve tried breaking him of doing these rituals by going cold turkey or using other methods to no avail. Lately, I’ve been reasoning with him that “sometimes mommy closes the fridge,” or “mommy flushes her own potty.” The concept of mommy’s turn vs. baby’s turn has been working more and more.

I’ve also implemented an empowering mantra that we recite daily.  He behaves more confidently and less anxious when we shout it during difficult times.  It seems he may be growing out of these rituals.  He’ll be 3 years old next month.  Fingers crossed that the older he gets the less he wants to flush my toilet.

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