Parenting plans are important for all ages. The toddler, age 20 to 36 months, is keeping coParents busy! Drafting up a plan makes life easier for everyone.

Toddlers experience rapid physical, emotional, and social growth. They are on the move! They are developing a sense of independence and more control over the world around them. Mastery of language and toilet training occurs during this period. The toddler has a desire to explore the world and learn how things work. As they try to understand the world, they also try to change the rules, limits, and boundaries set by the caregivers. They have discovered that new word, “no.”

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Toddlers require a balance between their need for greater independence and their equally strong need for fair and consistent limits to keep them safe. They need to develop self-control and learn that trustworthy adults are caring for them. They need supervision, encouragement, and a high level of caregiver involvement. Patient, consistent, loving, supportive care is essential.

During separations, the toddler needs reminders that the important people have not disappeared, will return, and continue to love them. Nightly phone calls can be reassuring. Only when the child feels safe and secure can they begin to explore their world. If a toddler’s needs are not met, parents may notice that their child becomes anxious or irritable. The child may become clingy or excessively aggressive. Their sleep may be interrupted by bad dreams. Sometimes they will become fearful when transitions take place and begin to display behaviors they had already outgrown.

When Designing Your Parenting Plan for Your Toddler, Remember:

  •  Transitions can be difficult unless both parents have soothing styles and can meet the child’s needs for structure and reassurance.
  •  Parenting must be adjusted to meet the child’s need for success. Similar ways of handling events will provide a sense of comfort.
  •  Telephone calls at a regular hour can be a good way to “touch base” for the child and the parent. This keeps the relationship in the present.
  •  A picture of each parent in the child’s room along with the “special blanket or teddy” that travels back and forth can be reassuring.
  •  It is best that overnights be spaced throughout the week.




About Debra Carter

Dr. Carter is a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist. She is also a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator and a Parent Coordinator. She is Co-Founder and Chief Clinical Director of the National Cooperative Parenting Center (NCPC) offering a wide spectrum of services to the Mental Health and Legal Communities as well as to families and children who are struggling with divorce related issues. She is, a frequent expert to the court, and an international speaker, lecturer and trainer on parenting in divorce. She is a consultant to the US Department of State in matters of international child custody.

Dr. Carter is the leader in the development of standardized Parental Responsibility Guidelines emphasizing the needs of children in divorce, which have been adopted and endorsed by the court. She has received numerous awards including the the prestigious “John E. Van Duzer Distinguished Service Award” from the International Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

Her work can be found through Unhooked Books: