How To Tame Your Toddler

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Do you have a boy? Is he wild like mine? Wait, before you say yes, let me just clarify what I mean by wild.
If he climbs everything, he might be wild.
If he would rather stand than sit while swinging, he might be wild.
If he tries going down the slide backwards, sideways, belly-up, and belly-down, he might be wild.
If he hops fences, crawls under fences, or otherwise “breaks out” of a fenced area, he might be wild.
If he loves mud and has a sixth sense for locating it, he might be wild.
Let’s revisit climbing. If he wants to climb ON TOP of the slide, the monkey bars, or any part of a play structure, he might be wild.
If he jumps from high objects, and dares to go higher each time, he might be wild.
If he runs everywhere instead of walking, he might be wild.
If, in most respects, he acts more like a puppy than a human being, he’s probably wild.
So. You still with me? You stragglers who remain are probably the parents of a wild thing.
For a while, I lamented my plight. Oh how I longed for a quiet, slow-paced, “normal” child. Why wouldn’t he just sit with some books? Why couldn’t he just walk somewhere instead of charge in like the cavalry? Why does he insist on performing dangerous feats Every. Time. We’re. At. The. Playground.
I have received some negative attention as a mom for letting my child be himself. Never really from friends, but strangers? Holy cow. I’ve had mothers tell me they are “worried for him” when I let him do his normal thing. Or “Oh, honey, he shouldn’t be doing THAT!” I know I’ve popped up in conversations about negligent mothers. I’m not negligent. I’m just the mother of a wild one.
With my first child, I was of course every bit the worried mother. Wait, that’s not entirely true. When it concerns my kids health—like whether they have pneumonia or just allergies, I’m a freak. I have been known to run to the ER more than a time or twenty.
But when it comes to kids being kids? Well, I’m from a family of six. You can bet we had a survival-of-the-fittest sort of childhood. And you know what? We’re all pretty darn tough. I am proud of each and every one of my siblings for pushing through obstacles and having a stick-to-it-ness that seems so elusive in our society. But enough on them. [I was *ahem* a wild one]
My wild one keeps me on my toes. I have to think five steps ahead of him if I want to guarantee his safety. For instance, unless we have the chain lock up on our door, the wild one will either run to A.) The playground and climb onto something really high or B.) Chase ducks until he arrives at the parking lot and begins to run in and out of all the parked cars.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just a daily occurrence. Therefore, we always keep the chain lock on our door. But somehow, he manages to get out. Could have something to do with his MacGyver cunning and nimble speed.
Recently, I was complaining to my mom about the wild one. Because I’m always worried he’s gonna go get himself killed if I leave the room to put away laundry. She gave me some amazing advice that I wish she would have given me a few months ago. Ok, so maybe she did but I wasn’t listening cause Chaucer was drinking out of the toilet I was distracted.
Since our heart-to-heart, I’ve been implementing Mom’ advice into our daily routine, and it is making the world of a difference! I am happier. Chaucer is happierer (because he’s always happy). Things are getting a little easier.
It’s pretty simple, actually. Some of you may think I’m quite the dunce for not realizing it myself. But sometimes you just need someone else to tell you the obvious.
Here are the five things I’m doing to tame my wild one:
This is pretty obvious, right? But sometimes I forget that he doesn’t know what the boundaries are. He doesn’t know the difference between the sidewalk that is safe, and the asphalt parking lot that is not.
Sure, he’ll eventually get it if I scream at him every time he ventures out, but if I take the time to show him the boundary we eliminate all misunderstanding.

A constant source of contention for the wild one and me is his desire to be in the kitchen when I’m cooking/doing dishes/anything. My BFF has the same problem with her son and she actually laid a strip of blue tape down and he is not allowed to cross the line. I think it’s genius. Because it works (P.S. THAT’S A BOUNDARY)
We simply don’t have enough space to do anything like that. The kitchen table is two feet away from the kitchen sink, so yah. It wouldn’t work. My Mom suggested that instead of fighting with him I offer him two choices of what he can do while I work. For example, I would say something like this:
“No, you cannot do the dishes with Mama, but you may either play with blocks or color. Which would you like to do?”
It’s amazing how quickly distracted they are. If I keep my voice chirpy and offer him a fun alternative, he goes with it. Limiting their choices on everything  is a good rule of thumb. I kinda think that with each year of age you can  add one choice. Coco is almost four and is able to process/handle four choices. The wild one is two years old; therefore, he gets two choices. Easy peesy!
My wild one never wants to leave a place where he’s having fun. I mean, who can blame him? I don’t either. But if I race him home or we pretend to be frogs he will follow me anywhere. How fast can you get into the carseat? How far can you run away from the playground? Let’s wiggle wiggle that toothbrush and get all your teeth!”
OMG. Sound effects save my life. Wild ones love excitement and noise. Instead of being uncontrollably loud and obnoxious teach them how to use their voice to make new sounds. It doesn’t have to be loud, yes it might get a little annoying, but it’s better than whining or screaming, right?
 Helicopters make the veggies go down, Niagara Falls washes the shampoo out of his hair, and a rocket ship is launched when he swallows his medicine. We also drill him on all the animal sounds to keep him from sabotaging his own diaper change.
My little guy is daring. He has no fear, and he enjoys trying new physical feats. I just know that his dream is to be able to swing from the monkey bars. He’s just not long enough.
It’s easy for me to scold him for all the dangerous things he’ll try. But I simply cannot follow him around every second of every day and prevent him from doing what he loves.
He loves to climb.
 He loves to jump.
He loves to hang from things and swing his body back and forth.
 He loves to wrestle with bigger kids.
 He loves to play football.
He wants to ride a big bike.
He wants to skateboard and rollerblade.
Of course he cannot do all these things. But he can do most of them.
There’s a part of my mama’s heart that is so proud that he is able to do those things. Yay! He’s a stud! I think to myself. But pride is quickly replaced with fear.
I cannot prevent him from being the active, adventurous, wild boy he is. God made him that way. He’ll probably be an athlete someday and find a way to channel that crazy energy. But right now, he’s two years old and should not jump from the top of the play structure.
 He needs a mom who will show him where the boundary is so that he can have fun but be safe.
 He needs a mom who will give him appropriate choices.
He needs a mom who will make things fun and make loud, crazy noises with him sometimes.
 He needs a mom who will show him how to do the things he wants to do and cheer for him when he accomplishes it.
If anyone wants the file for this printable leave a comment with your email address and I will get it to you without my watermark on it ????

73 thoughts on “How To Tame Your Toddler

  1. Janine

    Hi I would LOVE to get a file of the Let him be a little wild print. We have four boys and this is a perfect reminder for us. Thank you! Janine (

  2. hilljean

    Haha! Good to hear! It’s so annoying when people give you looks for having adventurous children! I bet they have a great time together ????

  3. Chelsea

    Wow after the week I’ve had battling preschool and him vs preschool round 2 this was such a wonderful sight for me. I haven’t been sleeping well because my sons daycare teachers cannot control him. So i was doing a little early morning me time and boom i found you! I am so glad i did. My son is a wonderous boy and in my opinion magical and the best part of him is his love and zest for life type attitude. He is not a deliberately bad child just a wild one. They cannot even keep him in the classroom which to me is ridiculous because this cannot be the first wild child they have encountered. I would really like the printable for myself as well as the crotchety preschool teachers who think I should consult my pediatrician about his behavior. Thank you for this wonderful blog that certainly made my day!

    1. hillary

      Oh you poor thing! Geez. Talk about a bum preschool teacher! Your little guy sounds like a character! I would be so pissed if they recommended I take my son to the doctor for his energy levels. It’s all about the way you see it. If you can channel that energy then our boys are capable of wonderful things. But if you just try to stop it, or cut it off? Well, thats like saying we don’t want them to be who God made them to be.

    2. Brandi

      Nice post! My daughter is much calmer (and has some self preservation!) now that she’s 5, but I remember the looks and comments you get from other people! Especially in the grocery store as she used to climb in and out of the cart at 18 months. She was perfectly in control of her body and I was right there but people sometimes mistake their nervousness with the child’s inability–as the parent you know what they can do! Even when it’s sometimes hard to let them work themselves out ????

      1. hillary

        So true! Sometimes kids really are capable of the climbing and jumping that scares us parents to death.

  4. hilljean

    My older son was easy until adolescence then he became my wild child! We survived and he has grown into an amazing young man (22 now). Boundaries, unconditional love and cheerleading did it.
    My younger son was a wild one from the day he was born (in fact Wylde is his middle name – true!). Now 9, we are awaiting an “official” diagnosis of ADD/ADHD. Its relatively mild and a modified diet is helping, but these “rules” are perfect reminders for me to appreciate him for the amazing young man he also. I would love these as printables – thank you!

  5. Alec

    Oh my gosh! My daughter is also a wild child! Looking at your pictures I thought to myself “she would be standing on the very top of the posts jumping up and down” CRAZY!

    Mostly I’m just glad to know I’m not the only one with crazy kids. All the kids that live near us seem so timid.

    Good luck with your little crazy, I know mine keeps me worn out! ????

    1. hillary

      I’m now pregnant with my third and I’m hoping for a slightly tamer child. But even if they are wild, I know they will bring so many stories and laughter.

  6. hilljean

    My oldest is a bit more cautious than my youngest. I would say he is more of a risk-taker. It’s a matter of balancing the need for safety with just letting them be who they are. And I am totally going to steal the Niagara Falls sound effects idea when rinsing shampoo next time!

  7. Diane

    Great ideas to keep in mind! Would love a copy of the’Let him be a little wild” printable.

  8. Brynn

    Can I have a copy of this? I love it! And thanks for the advice. I have a very strong-minded, wild two year old boy!

  9. hilljean

    I love wild. I’ve also limited choices to two. That way we’re all happy – there’s either This or That, nothing else to confuse things.

  10. Brittney

    Perfectly said! This was very refreshing to read as I sit exhausted and a little hopeless in keeping up with my little one. I appreciated the reminder to let him be him with boundaries rather than repeatedly addressing rules all the time. I would love the printable as well.

  11. Elizabeth M

    Oh my goodness, I love this post. I teach in a daycare/preschool and have a class of six 2 and 3 year old boys! I would love to be able to post your printable in my classroom, because it perfectly reflects my teaching style! My email is Thanks so much!

  12. Sarah

    My 4 year old daughter has been nicknamed “the tornado” by many. My husband and I find ourselves yelling at her a lot because we have 3 month old twins. She is a mirror image of me when I was 4 so I completely understand her but it frustrates me as an adjusted adult. thank you for reminding me to be her cheerleader.

    1. hillary

      I’m always hearing from my mom that my daughter IS me as well. Sigh. Not very comforting haha! But the wild ones are so much more interesting, don’t ya think?

  13. Jen

    Hillary- I would love a copy of the the printable at the end. However I am being picky and really want it in red:) I am willing to pay for it -if that is a possibility? Thanks so much!


  14. hilljean

    This is great! I have a wild boy myself and I totally agree with limiting their choices, If I gave my son 5 options he would want all 5. Limiting it to either this or that helps tremendously!! Visiting from SITS!

  15. Yoko

    I’m so relieved to find someone who understood my son like you do. My God it’s killing me at times as I can’t catch up with him all the time but constant criticism I get on my wild boy – I have no choice but to be with him to keep an eye on him. And it’s hard as he now dislikes to go to the park with me as he says it’s not fun. I’m going to try all you have suggested. It will help me tremendously if I could stop telling him no all the time. Thank you thank you thank you

  16. Janine

    I would love love love your printable without the watermark. We have 3 wild boys here ???? Loved your entire posting! Thanks, Janine (

  17. Becca

    Loved this post! I have a strong-willed girl plus a crazy boy. I think these tips apply to both!

    1. hillary

      Haha. Strong willed girls are a whole different set of things to know, aren’t they? I had one of those first. Not sure which is more difficult…

  18. hilljean

    Oh, my gosh, I had to catch my breath as I “followed” your little one through his days! I think my favorites have always been to set boundaries and limit choices. Our littlest was a fashionista from the get go. I have no doubt she would have picked her coming home from the hospital outfit if I had held choices up to her. ????

  19. Robyn

    I love this post about the wild ones! Great advice, thank you!

  20. Ashley


    Love the sign but I need it to be for a girl, Is that possible?

  21. Hailey

    Ahhh…I LOVE this print. It would be so perfect for my little boy’s nursery…we didn’t find out what we were having so I went w/ aqua/gray, and now I’m personalizing it to make it more “boy” ???? I have a very strong feeling he will fall into the “wild” category, and I cannot wait…mostly! If you are still sharing, – thank you, thank you!

  22. Shelly

    This is genius! My little one is a such a wild one also and i feel that this advice will help us get on the right track! Please send me the printable it will match my decor perfectly!

  23. Elisha

    I love it! This actually describes my daughter at that age, but now that she is 4 she is much much calmer. Although she is in gymnastics and that has helped. My 2 year old son is heading this way too! I would love love love a copy of that!

  24. Jaxx

    Omg, when I read this I thought “someone finally understands” thank you so much for the tips. I hope it helps my life be a little less crazy!

  25. AngelaC

    Love this! Would love the printable to hang in my sons’ room – ages 3 & 4 and both WILD ????

  26. thedoseofreality

    What a perfect, wonderful post! Your sweet boy sounds utterly delightful, and I have a feeling you both sleep very well at night! ???? As the mother of two girls who are prone to walk on the wild side, I loved reading this! Stopping by from SITS.

    1. hillary

      He is a delight. And yes, we both go to bed very tired at night. THe only unfortunate thing is he doesn’t seem to need much sleep. Sigh. And I DO!

  27. miranda

    I love that I also have a ‘wild one’ who won’t sit still when all the other kiddos in class are sitting neatly in their moms laps. Don’t mind mine, who is laying on his back in the middle of the circle… Moms are so genius. Would love the printable to have in his room to remind me to appreciate all his wild ways.

    1. hillary

      We mothers of wild ones must stick together! I’ll send that printable out ????

  28. Delia

    I would love the printable. Thankfully my son hasn’t gotten to quite the adventurous level of the boys described above but I am sure he is not far behind. The trouble I have is with the loudness – yelling, etc. it has gotten out of control and makes it hard to go out in public. Also, the hitting – he suddenly in the last few months has started wanting to hit everyone frequently which happened after he started day care about 6 months before that. Any ideas?

  29. hilljean

    I know. It’s so simple, but so ground-breaking. It really does eliminate a lot of conflict.

  30. sarah

    hey, just came across this post. I definitely have a WILD ONE! OMG. and I love the printable and would love the unwatermarked file….

  31. Angi

    I love number 5! I tried to tame my first wild child (not my first child) and with the next one, I’ve pretty much let him act like a maniac with the understanding that he won’t be the same person at age 22 as he is at age’ll all tone down with age. I haven’t seen any 22 year olds going down the slide backwards and belly up lately, ha!

    1. hillary

      Hmm…well, I live in a college town so uh, I do see some frightening behavior from the “big boys.” Haha, but generally you are right ????

  32. Elizabeth Johnson

    Love this. Little men should be allowed to be a little wild if they are bent that way! Would love a copy of the printable ????

  33. Dana

    I would love the file for this printable let him be wild so cute. Really enjoyed your blog.

  34. SYeoman

    Could you please send the printable to my email? Perfect for my two year old.

  35. hilljean

    I have two wild boys and wouldn’t change it for anything. I get lots of looks from other moms at the park when they’re climbing way up high on the monkey bars or pushing the merry-go-round really fast. My oldest is almost eight, and he’s survived so far.

  36. DGMommy (Tamara)

    I so want that printable for my little wild one’s room! You could have absolutely have been describing my boy. He just turned three and he’s constantly scaring the heck out of me (and his sisters!). But I’ve learned those same lessons and isn’t it amazing what choices can do for them?! And I’ve always been big on boundaries, but I like the blue tape idea a lot…

    adgmommy (at)


  37. Trenia

    I have a 3 year old Wild Girl!! Everything you described is her to a T. Can’t wait to implement the boundary in the kitchen, etc. Love letting her be her. Most don’t agree when I let her sing out loud at the top of her lungs or climb the rock wall at the playground high enough that I can barely reach her and my heart skips a beat. She’s a strong independent little girl that I’m so very proud of! Thank you for this post!

    1. hillary

      Love hearing this! She’s probably quite the character! Yah, the boundary in the kitchen is genius. I wish I could do it in my apartment. I highly recommend it! She started it when he was a baby. So smart.

  38. hilljean

    I think little boys are just born to be wild. Great advice though. Games and sound effects would work great for any toddler.

  39. golden moment

    […] And then he got wild. Not just toddler wild, but straight up give-Tarzan-a-Redbull-and-let-him-drive-a-tractor-through-New York City-wild.  If you’ve spent any length of time with him you will agree. My child is so wild that I am qualified to write a user manual for wild ones. […]

  40. Chandra

    I, too have a wild child! The looks I get from moms on the playground are priceless as he does things that are just par for the course for him. The Giving Options guideline has been invaluable for us. It lets me guide him to something appropriate and gives him the feeling that he’s in control of what he’s doing.

    It’s so nice to read comments from other moms who fall into bed after a day of Wild Child Chasing, already half asleep. ????


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