The Moms Behind Big Little Feelings Are Here to Help You Conquer Toddler Parenting
One simple fact most parents can agree on: parenting a toddler isn't easy. Whether it's throwing food or throwing tantrums, even the most normal toddler behavior can be really tough to handle when life gets overwhelming. That's why Big Little Feelings wants to help. Started by real-life best friends Deena Margolin (a LMFT and self-proclaimed neuroscience nerd) and Kristin Gallant (a parent coach and former early-education specialist), Big Little Feelings is your one-stop Instagram shop for learning how to handle toddler behavior. After reading endless books about infancy, the women realized there was a big hole in toddler parenting resources, and they decided to fill it.
I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down (virtually!) with these amazing women, and let me tell you, they are as awesome as their toddler course, and they had me alternating between teary feels and hysterical laughter. "We want people to feel like we are the moms who live next door that you can just come over and hang out with, because we are," Margolin said. "Pour a glass of wine or a cup of tea, and let's just be real together, judgment-free." Their Instagram account puts out that vibe to a T, with relatable stories and exactly the tips you need to feel like you can conquer the day no matter what your toddler throws at you (literally and figuratively). I asked them for their top three toddler tips — read more ahead!
OK the Feelings
Margolin and Gallant said their number one tip for toddler parenting is to OK the feelings. "All feelings are OK; all behaviors are not," Gallant said. "When you validate your kid's feelings, they feel like you're on their side, no matter what the situation is." By giving them space to feel whatever they're feeling, you can start to shift your kid's behavior.
Set Boundaries, and Stick to Them
"Setting boundaries is a crucial piece of the program," Margolin said. "The more you hold boundaries, the more you will see a shift in behavior." Gallant used screen time as an example. "If you tell your kid they have to put their iPad away, and then give in when they freak out, they learn that if they freak out more, they get what they want." Consistency is key. Boundaries take a lot of repetition, but your persistence will pay off.
Try the Timer Trick
This toddler trick is one of both Margolin and Gallant's favorite tips — try it on literally anything. Little one doesn't want to leave the playground? Have them set a timer for three minutes. When the timer goes off, time to go! You will be amazed at how fast your kid skips to the car. Toddler doesn't want to transition from playtime to lunch time? Timer! Have them set it for a few minutes, and like magic, they'll happily go eat lunch when the timer goes off.
"OK the feeling, then have them set the timer," Deena said. "This is our favorite trick because it works right away!" It works because you're setting up expectations. There's no meltdown because your toddler has been warned of what exactly is about to happen.
Let Yourself Have a Meltdown
Sometimes you're going to feel overwhelmed as a parent, no matter how many tips or tricks you have in your parenting arsenal. "Feeling empowered is so important, and our course helps you feel that way," Gallant said. "When you know how to stay calm and in control, things feel easier."
For the times when you're at the end of your patience, recognize it and take some time for you. "We're big fans of the cry walk," Margolin said. "Go on a walk alone, and let it all out." And if you don't have a partner or enough help to be able to do that, prioritize restoring activities after bedtime, and let the guilt go. The laundry can wait, but your feelings can't!