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3 Important lessons learned from raising a toddler

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Just like that, my daughter, Emma, reached the prime of her toddlerhood and turned two years old — she’s determined to try everything and see what she is capable of accomplishing.

Toddlerhood is a fun time when you really get to see your child’s personality flourish, as they explore everything the world has to offer. It’s a challenging stage, too, as children begin to test limitations, throw tantrums, or make messes.

But ultimately, it’s so rewarding — even if it doesn’t seem so during the hard times — because our kids are teaching us so much about life that we may have forgotten as adults.

Here are three lessons I’ve learned from raising my happy, independent and determined toddler:

mother holding her daughter

Have patience

Learning to be patient has always been a bit of a challenge for me. Once Emma reached her “terrible twos” — which, quite frankly, can start way before age two — I realized very quickly it was a virtue I really needed to embrace.

Because patience is not just something you need with the public meltdowns and messes made right after cleaning the house in toddlerhood, but also throughout your life.

More often than not, these challenging times for you are critical learning opportunities for them.

As I was cleaning the house one day, my little girl found a dust pile I had just swept, and when I came back into the room the pile was gone and Emma had gotten the floor all dirty again. Naturally, I got frustrated, but then I saw she had a dustpan in her hand. She was trying to help me.

It’s moments like these that really remind me to pause, be patient and examine the situation when Emma does something I think is “bad” in the moment. Most times, she is really just trying to learn the way things work. And really, this is something we should do during every challenging time in life.

mother supporting daughter on merry-go-round

Cherish the good little things

In adulthood, it’s easy to dwell on the little things bothering or worrying us, and forget to really soak in the good little things happening in our lives. Toddlers are the complete opposite.

Emma can be upset over something, get over it in a minute, and go back to admiring and giggling at the bubbles coming out of her bubblemaker. She can be frustrated at a situation in one moment, then hear her favorite ABBA song, “Super Trouper,” play on my phone and start dancing with a big smile on her face.

In doing so, she makes me forget about the insignificant things that were annoying me, too. Seeing her smile and enjoy the small, precious things life has to offer brings me a sense of joy that makes me realize how silly it is to hang on to the things that make me unhappy.

Be confident

I never really knew the importance of being confident, until I had a little human looking up to me at all times. When Emma sees me working on a story and writing in my reporter’s notebook, she sits next to me and scribbles in her own little notebook. As her mom, she really sees me as her role model and if I want her to have confidence, I need to be confident as well.

It’s been a challenge, but my little girl is always my biggest cheerleader. Losing weight has always been a struggle for me, especially after having a baby. But through every difficult workout, Emma is there clapping for me and cheering me on and doing her own version of jumping jacks and squats alongside me. And when I hit a plateau and am disappointed by my weight-loss progress, Emma gives me a hug and makes me realize that as long as I’m trying, the number on the scale does matter.

She has taught me to love myself despite my weight and my flaws, and to have confidence in my skills and abilities. That, in itself, is a priceless life lesson.

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