How to Model Toddler Behavior — It’s Never Easy, but It’s Always Clear

And the results will hit you when you expect the least — as they hit me.

Adelina Vasile


Photo by Juan Encalada on Unsplash

They say parenting is the hardest thing of them all because the stakes are so high, and we often feel like we don’t know what to do. We don’t want to mess up our children, right? We need to teach them things that will make them decent human beings. But what are those things, exactly? And how are we supposed to teach them?

I have found the answer, and I will spare you from reading everything below to discover it. You teach your child yourself.

Parents teach themselves.

This one — parents teach themselves — is one of the greatest lessons I’ve got from Magda Gerber. Parenting is about being a model of what is human, a model that our children will happily follow. And once you realize that parenting comes down to watching yourself, you’ll know what you have to do. It won’t be easy, but it will be clear.

The way you handle your mistakes or deal with frustrations
How you approach problems or ask for help when you’re overwhelmed
How you apologize and fix things with other people or how you navigate various life conflicts
How you listen or how you speak up (not just for yourself, but for others, too)
How you care about the world you live in

These are all things you do that your children absorb. Things you model for them. Every mood you have, every reaction you manifest, every facial expression you display, every action you take is real-life, real-time, raw parenting.

I knew it, but I forgot it. It’s easy to forget when life happens. And while I’m sure I’ve messed up in many of the aspects I just listed above, one thing I did gave me the reminder I needed. I always did my best to talk to my child with respect. I wrote about it here.

Ever since he was little, I would use respectful words with him on different occasions. Like, after changing his diaper, I’d tell him, “Thank you for your cooperation, young man.” And here we are, my toddler and I, on a sunny afternoon where I change his diaper and wrap it up, a bit…



Adelina Vasile

Mother, educator, journalist, copywriter. I write about the things I need to learn myself.