intentional with toddlers.


I recently mentioned a toddler class that I am taking and wanted to share a bit of what I am learning (from the first 2 weeks), there are 2 more weeks of the class that are still to come for an additional post later! I guess I should start by saying that in the past few weeks we have changed churches. We ADORE our old church but felt God strongly calling our family on a new journey and to a new church home. At our new church they are offering classes on Sunday evenings and the two that I signed up for were “spiritual warfare” and “raising toddlers”. Our teacher is explaining how scripture can be applied to the book “Happiest Toddler on the Block” and it has been amazing! I thought maybe I could share a few things and my thoughts on them and how they relate to the way we do things here. 

We desperately want our kiddos to feel freedom to learn, explore and grow within rules and structure. I believe that everything can be fun and exciting for your little ones. 

1. Time in Attention: it is important that each child has 5-10 minutes of just one on one time with each parent throughout the day.

This is big for families with multiple little ones. Chris and I take each child for 10-15 minutes each day and do something just us. It can be a simple walk down to the end  of the block and back. Rocking a child and reading a story one on one. Something sweet and simple just the two of you to fill up their little tank! You can also do longer activities. I always take one of the three with me if I am running somewhere real quick and then we might stop for a quick ice cream together before we get back!

2. Behind their Back: It’s probably obvious that you should never say something negative about your little one when they are in ear shot or can hear you. Or really ever. BUT something that they LOVE is hearing you praise them “behind their back”. Chris and I love love this one! We do it all the time, it’s a great example of positive reinforcement. 

“Hey Casey, did you know that Aiden put away all his toys today without me asking??”
“He did?! Are you serious?! That was so kind of him to do all of that work! And no one had to tell him?? Amazing!!”

3. Ask toddler to help you with tasks. They love this. They love little roles and jobs that make them feel big and important. It’s also a great way to take ten minutes to clean the kitchen for the afternoon but also involving them. Even if it takes a bit longer or isn’t done perfectly, this will help build their little confidence!

4. Play Silly: Sing a song wrong and let them correct you. “Happy Elephant to you….” // We do this and Aiden hysterically laughs every time. “No mom!!!!! It’s happy birthday!!!!” Ohhhhhh, you are so right!!!! Thank you for helping me!

5. Practice areas that they struggle in. 

If one of our kiddos responds incorrectly to something, I normally will say real quietly and calmly (I get down on eye level with them). “Hey I know you are very passionate about this. Could you help me? Can you practice asking for that the correct way?”

An example our teacher gave was that her son would always take off running as soon as she would drop her hand from holding it. She would go a few times a week in her backyard where it was safe and say “Okay, lets pretend we are in the grocery store parking lot about to get some food, I need to grab my keys// I am going to drop your hand now, what should you do?” – She said through practice in a safe environment he eventually learned!

** this is so important: often times toddlers start throwing a tantrum because you have not identified their emotion. 

Example: You are at the park, you have given all the ” we are leaving in 5 minutes”…. you say it is now time to go and they start melting down. Usually you start going into these long explanations which are going over their heads because they are screaming and kicking. Try this. 

Grab them, say ” You’re mad. pause You’re mad. pause You love the park.”
they stop, say yes!
you say ” I know you love the park! We will come back later this week”.

Something about validating that emotion helps!

6. Plants seeds of kindness through fairytales. In our home, we can make up fun stories about a blonde boy who loved dinos and his sister who loves tigers and they are traveling to a far away jungle! They both want the same boat paddle! The boy was so kind and had such a beautiful heart he let the girl use the paddle first and they shared! Wasn’t that so nice of him?? 

Using these fake stories you are planting seeds of kindness!

7. Your children may have a quality that comes across negative right now but it is a quality, a gift that God gave them and they just do not know how to “channel” it yet. Don’t put that quality down! Talk to them about it in a positive way as you try and teach them how to channel it properly.

Bossy : A Leader
Defiant : Brave
Hyper: Passionate
Nosy: Curious
Picky Eater : Discerning (knows what they like)
Shy : Careful
Stubborn : Tenacious
Whiny : Outspoken

“Wow, I know that you are being so careful right now and that is a beautiful quality! But you know what? It’s super sweet to introduce yourself to new friends. Show them that wonderful smile of yours!”

8. Never make unfair comparisons to siblings or other children. Every child is different. don’t compare.

9. Have fun. If there is something they don’t want to do (brush their teeth) try and make it fun! Be really silly and start singing a song and brushing your teeth and see how quickly they want to join. 

10. Compliment them constantly. Be positive. Shower them with Love. 

Okay so I made this last one up myself ;). I believe in this so much. We praise our kids constantly throughout the day. I pump positive reinforcement into their little lives 24/7. It makes a HUGE difference. The first week at our new church Aiden’s teacher looked at me and said “You sure have a lovebug on your hands”. YES. He knows love because he feels it constantly.

11. Don’t apologize on their behalf. How many times are we in a store or at a friends house and to save face we apologize on their behalf. ” I am so sorry he is acting this way…. yada yada”

This is not good. You can crush a spirit with criticism, sarcasm and ridicule. 

12. Exaggerations also kill the spirit. ” You never do this…. You always do this…”

13. Give yourself Grace. Us mamas, us parents- we need to give ourselves grace!

Okay More to come!!! 







January 31, 2013


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  1. THIS was very inspiring. I have 2 boys – one that is 2 1/2 right now and oh momma! He is SUPER emotional – so I LOVED the part about validating their emotions. I've done this and seen GREAT results. You've encouraged me to do it more often! CUTE kids BTW! OMG. I'm sure you eat them up every day πŸ™‚ XO

  2. Loved this post! And I needed to read it today as a reminder after a rough few days of meltdowns! : ) Thank you! xo

  3. Casey, This is my parenting 'language' all the way. I didnt grow up like this and so I am trying to pave the way for new emotionally connected parenting, feeling blind at times. Is there a book associated with the class.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Grace Based Parenting and Parenting the Way God Parents are two great books as well.


  4. Holy cow, this is such good info! I'm actually reading that book right now – and it's a LOT of material to cover. I also have wondered how it's principles line up with Biblical truths about parenting, so this is a really good thing for me to read. THANK YOU for sharing!

  5. Chelsea says:

    I am printing this out & hanging it on our fridge. Thank you for such wonderful advice. I think this is exactly what my daughter Alea needs right now and what Cory & I need to help her blossom into a gracious little girl! Thank you!

  6. this is amazing amazing info!!! and i can already start to do some of these things w/ my little guy!! thank you sooo much!!!

  7. Aah so timely. Totally needed to read this Casey. Thank you so much for sharing. You are a huge inspiration for me as a mom. Thank you <3

  8. Thanks for sharing this Casey. Totally needed these tips right now. You are awesome. I look forward to each of your posts. You write from the heart and with love. I'm a fan!

  9. Thank you for sharing! I just went down this list with my husband and we definitely see things we want/need to adjust and or implement into our parenting. Thank you πŸ™‚ ~Yesenia

  10. Leah says:

    Casey, thank you so much for posting this. A friend recently let me borrow, "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" and it's been an interesting read so far… I really love the way you summarized everything and added your thoughts here. I'm going to print this to hang up as a reminder! This has really weighed heavy on my heart lately as I've had some issues with my Emma. She's a lot different than Eli (our first) and I'm not sure how to respond sometimes. She's very loud and she likes to yell when I need her to he quiet… I guess I would say she's very brave. πŸ™‚ She's 3 1/2 now and really growing up (my little momma and shadow), but she still likes to try my patience (and that takes a lot). I know I've used most of these positive techniques, but I've failed miserably, too, with both of my older kiddos (labeling, unkind comments about their behavior to others (mostly my husband and Mom), apologies, and exaggerations… Sigh… Sorry to tell you all of this, I guess I just need a friend to listen. Anyway, your post and encouraging words came at the perfect time for me, so thank you again. I know I can do this with God's help and with
    grace. Hope you have a beautiful Thursday! Hugs! πŸ™‚

  11. Denise says:

    These are spot on! And definitely what I needed to hear today! Thank you so much for sharing…I can't wait for part II! πŸ™‚

  12. SO beautiful.. I will have to come back to this once I become a mom in a few months. I love how it's focus is positivity and love… And your children are gorgeous!!

  13. Truly invaluable advice.

    I don't know what rock i've been hiding under but i've just found your amazing blog and am slightly in love.

    Once my kids are in bed i'll be making myself a cup of tea and hitting your archives.

    xo em

  14. Andrea says:

    Such amazing stuff you are learning in this class! I especially love your examples. Many of them are encouraging reminders for me in the areas that I struggle. Best advice is for us parents to have grace for ourselves! And to support each other. My husband and I took a class at our church a couple years ago called "spiritual parenting" that was/is awesome. There's a book that went along with our class, also called Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony. Thanks for sharing!

  15. p.s

    I read 'raising your spirited child' and found it endlessly helpful with my outrageously fun filled, strong willed little dude.

    xo em

  16. Leah says:

    PS – Love these precious pictures! πŸ™‚

  17. Mrs. Frazier says:

    Oh Casey! I love love love this! Thank you!

  18. Mrs. Frazier says:

    Oh Casey! I love love love this! Thank you!

  19. Lynn says:

    Thank you Casey for posting these. I really needed this. I've had such a hard week with my toddler and I feel refreshed and ready to try some of these new ideas.

  20. Ummm Hello beautiful babies!!!!

    sending some love from sunny LA!

  21. truemomrn says:

    I'm saving this post and reading it every other week! I do a lot of this but I need reminding- thanks for sharing this!
    Love love love you!!

  22. truemomrn says:

    Saving this post and reading it every other week- I do a lot of it, but I need reminding! Love love love you!

  23. Stacie says:

    Great post- thank you for sharing! What an important job we live!

  24. Awesome post Casey! I am a child development specialist and agree with all of your statements:)

  25. Anonymous says:

    That was a very inspiring and eye opening post. Thank you for sharing!

  26. Leah says:

    Thanks for the sweet comment! Love you, too, friend! πŸ™‚

  27. DANIELLE ROY says:

    Perfect advice, and might I add my most favorite photos of them ever. Love you and those babies!

  28. Alyssa says:

    Thank you very much for sharing this! Like someone else said, I always wonder how books on raising toddlers line up with biblical truths, so this was a perfect explanation of that! I'm also printing this one out for the fridge. This night have been my favorite post of yours yet. I think God had a handle on the timing of it, because I needed to hear all of this so bad! God bless yah! πŸ™‚

  29. Alyssa says:

    Thank you very much for sharing this! Like someone else said, I always wonder how books on raising toddlers line up with biblical truths, so this was a perfect explanation of that! I'm also printing this one out for the fridge. This night have been my favorite post of yours yet. I think God had a handle on the timing of it, because I needed to hear all of this so bad! God bless yah! πŸ™‚

  30. Van Wynsberg says:

    This is great, thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

  31. This is all so true! And also hard to always remember in the heat of the moment. I try very hard to implement all of this with my kids and it truly makes a difference πŸ™‚

  32. I don't yet have children, but I do work in a middle school and I would say that teens are not that far off from toddlers (despite what they think). In fact, I would even venture to say that adults would benefit from this as well. I can totally see why God has called you to this other church with these fabulous classes. I think many people will benefit from hearing your message.

  33. Morgan says:

    this is awesome. thanks πŸ™‚

  34. Wonderful post, excellent advice. I love the idea of praising behind their backs. We do this with our daughter now and you can just see the pride pop up on her little face. Helping with tasks is also fun, we get the job done and have a little play/together time, too. Some of the other stuff, we need to work on and I loved reading it all so we can try some new techniques. <3

  35. Hannah says:

    This is so beautifully written… thank you so much for sharing! I can't wait to hear the rest!

  36. Megan says:

    This is a wonderful list. Thanks so much for sharing!

  37. Amanda says:

    Wow, I think every parent needs this class! Some of these things have taken me years to learn, and are easily forgotten when things get hard. Thank you for the great tips.

  38. Anonymous says:

    As someone who has taught children of all ages, it always breaks my heart when a parent comes to tell me how "bad" their child is, or apologize for their children before we've even met. Kids hear everything and I've watched many little shoulders slump as parents "warn" me about their child. Parents should consider it their job to educate teachers on their child's BEST qualities, not their worst! Casey I loved your list of ways to look at negative qualities in a more positive light!

  39. christina says:

    yes to all!!!! love the one on one time…it is so important! also I love the praises and compliments///

    "Wow!,I am so proud that you picked up your shoes, thank you are such a good helper!" makes such a big difference vs. " I told you! pick up your shoes!!!"

    I started this new thing with my daughter ( she is 6) everyday at school I ask her to tell me: 3 good thing that happen to her, 3 good things that happen to someone else, and 3 nice things she did for someone else/ I feel this helps her become more away of others and their feelings and how it can be nice to do something kind for others. πŸ™‚

    as always thanks for sharing!

  40. E says:

    Unsure how I stumbled onto your blog – either via Kelle Hampton or Taza – but it is positively calming. I am a single mother of a sweet 2 year old girl, and I am grateful every day that I am her mother. This particular post was inspiring and comforting, so thank you! My faith and relationship with God is not as steadfast as it once was, but I am taking one day at a time, one moment at a time, to find my way. So thank you for taking time to share.

  41. Très bien says:

    I love this post Casey. Thank you for sharing. I was thrown into being a parent when my nephew was given to my husband and I at the age of 8 months. He is not 17 months I feel so lost all the time. We have a baby on the way and I am constantly fearful and intimidated about what is to come. I love coming to your site because it inspires and encourages me to LOVE well, like Jesus. Thank you!!

  42. Mara and Jae says:

    ainsleigh is seriously the cutest. that's all i have to say.

  43. Jessica says:

    I don't think I could love this post any more. Thank you.

  44. I went to a break out session this weekend at Created for Care that taught so many of the same things! I came home armed with more ways to love my kids as BIG as I can. <3

  45. Oh wow, so many great ideas here. My little girl is 14 months and there is a ton of stuff I could start implementing… I get anxiety just thinking about future tantrums in the grocery store. oh boy.

  46. Izzy says:

    Love this so much. Thank you for sharing. I have been struggling with my 3-year old, and it's me that is struggling, not her, and I know these points will help me. I'm also going to order Happiest Todler on the Block. I read and used the Happiest Baby on the Block and that worked well for us.

  47. This was beautiful, my husband and I dont have any kiddos right now but I do work at a preschool and Its so easy to get annoyed instead of see those areas of growth and discipleship.


  48. Allison says:

    thanks for sharing these ideas, i love them! as a teacher, i have SEEN how focusing on the positive works wonders! you are a great and loving mama πŸ™‚

  49. Donna says:

    This is a great list! My daughter is 4.5 and an only child, but I can even apply some areas of the toddler and multiple-child aspect areas to her current growth. Thanks for sharing this!

    And (this is just gratuitous)…because I haven't said it before, you have really beautiful children. πŸ™‚

  50. Joyeful says:

    i LOVE this post!!! Especially the part about how some of their negative qualities can actually stem from a positive trait. LOVE that insight!

  51. Kelsey says:

    Love this! Thank you so much for sharing!

  52. kinze says:

    now i want to go to class with you … this is just what i needed to hear today … thanks girl!

  53. You are such an incredible inspiration. Our little man is only 4 months old, but we are already witnessing his little spirit shine bright. We are so looking forward to teaching, and guiding his journey in this life.
    My husband and I both came from families that lacked patience, and had 'quick to react' temperaments. I have buried myself in a library of information that I've collected to help his unique soul thrive.
    Thank you so much for sharing with us your experiences.


  54. Cara Howard says:

    CASEY I love this soooo much!!! So excited to put all of these into practice when Danny and I begin having kids. I LOVE this!!! xo

  55. Crystal says:

    I loved this post!! Can't wait for more! I have a 1 1/2 year old and an eleven week old baby. I'm trying to be extra intentional with the one year old in the rare moments she gets one-on-one time with me. This is so helpful…especially the part about seeing the good in the traits we typically see as bad. Thanks for always writing such encouraging posts!

  56. tahnie says:

    adore this casey.

    i'm putting the finishing touches on my own post i wrote using my child life specialist skills, how to make the most of the toddler years. i'm so excited to share! πŸ™‚

  57. Ahhh I love this! I am tucking these away for when I have toddlers of my own! What wonderful advice πŸ™‚ I'm so glad that you're sharing it!!


  58. Anonymous says:

    Great post Casey! Always good to be reminded about the best ways to love our kids. As best we try, sometimes extra grace is required πŸ˜‰ x

  59. Amanda says:

    Love this post. Every single one of these tips is so useful and such a great reminder that our children hear everything and have feelings too. I love the one about exaggerations killing the spirit and apologizing on their behalf. We compliment our son constantly but haven't thought to do it behind his back. Thanks so much!

  60. Rebecca says:

    Great to hear, at this moment. Thank you!

  61. Rebecca says:

    Great to hear, at this moment. Thank you!

  62. Lindsy says:

    One of the best posts I've ever read! I was just thinking today about how I need to be careful to speak blessing into my kiddos lives. Using positive terms, like you said, to describe them. Passionate instead of hyper, etc. Thank you Casey, I just love this! <3

  63. jessica says:

    Thank you sooooo much for sharing this today! I needed this for my six and five year old!

  64. Cathy says:

    I so love this!

  65. Mrs. Osmond says:

    You have no idea how much I've need this. Thank you so much for these Ideas, some of them I really already knew but needed to be reminded. So thank you.


  66. yikes, i have a lot of work to do… today was not my shining moment- thanks for reminding me what i CAN do instead of what I did! I'll do better tomorrow, with God's grace.

  67. kali says:

    Loved this post so much! Thank you for sharing! This is one I will problem come back to frequently. Pinning it now πŸ™‚

  68. Wow, this post spoke to me so much. As an ex-teacher and a mama to two, I'm constantly thinking about how my behaviour affects the way that my children are raised. Many of these ideas aren't that new to me, but some are, or just made me think about things a different way.
    At a play group we go to, my little boy has had a couple of weeks of being really picked on by another kid. He's quite sensitive and doesn't understand why this child won't leave him alone. I have found myself wondering whether I'm raising him too soft and too sensitive. But your number 10 made me think that what I'm actually doing is filling him up with love and kindness, that's all he ever sees so he can't understand a child who isn't the same way. And I'd much prefer him to take that loving kind energy out into the world than be a bit tougher and less gentle.

  69. Lou says:

    So cute, and they look like they are having so much fun.


  70. Really beautiful post! And such a beautiful fam! So happy to find this blog. =

  71. Terri says:

    This hit the spot! So beautiful that you are able to go to a class to learn these things. THank you for sharing. I can't wait to try these out with my 1 year old πŸ™‚

  72. brittany says:

    i love this! i am currently reading Happiest Toddler on the Block and i love your commentary here. thank you!!! πŸ™‚ xo

  73. Tara says:

    These are great!! I have a 4 week old, and I am reading happiest baby on the block right now. I absolutely love it! Can't wait to read happiest toddler on the block

  74. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Casey!! Really needed to hear this. With 4 little ones, itΒ΄s good to get reminded..

  75. I love the light on this photos

  76. Alexis says:

    casey, you are raising some beautiful kids1 i wish i could be a fly on your wall for a day to get some more pointers. i have three little ones too and i dont always remember to praise them throughout the day. its so much easier for me to focus on the wrong-doings. we are in the process of moving to a new church as well. its a scary thing, putting yourself out there in a new environment but i have to remind myself of Christ's life here on earth. He was always in situations we would consider "uncomfortable". He will carry us through πŸ™‚

  77. Meredith says:

    This is a fantastic post with fantastic information! That class sounds amazing. I am pinning this and sharing this with others–it's so very helpful. Glad to have found this through The Mommy Brain Mixer today. What a blessing, thanks!

  78. Lindsey says:

    Wow! Sounds like a great class!! We are actually looking for a parenting class for our Wednesday night family night at our church. Do you think your leader could send me some notes or a link to the curriculum? Thanks for sharing. Great insights!!

    Lindsey @

  79. Anonymous says:

    pinned this. so good; thanks for sharing!! i soo want to raise little lovebugs–such a compliment to you πŸ™‚

  80. Katie F says:

    This is an amazing post. I found your blog from this link through Pinterest and it was exactly what I needed to read. I am a new follower and look forward to reading more

  81. Kelli Kegley says:

    My goodness, I needed to read this. You hear so many tips on raising older kids, but not many on toddlers. Thank you so much for sharing and I can wait to read more!

  82. Oh Casey I love this! Makes me so excited to one day have my own precious little noes πŸ™‚ Thankful for these truths and lessons. Praying one day we have our own "lovebug" kiddos

  83. You know those times when you read something that you just needed to hear at that very moment? Well this nailed that. I love this. Every single thing about this. I really am going to print this out and put it somewhere where I'll see it daily with high lights, notes…everything. If there is one thing in this life that I hope I can do to my 110% best ability that would be to raise my children and family in home full of love. You know, that home, where you walk in, as a guest, and just feel the love. Love this soo soo so much. Thank you Casey, for always inspiring me.

  84. I shared this post on my blog today. πŸ™‚ Thanks again for this friend.

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