Toddlers are such amazing, impressive little people. They are full of wonder, always learning and eager to try new things... when they're ready. As they examine the world and how they fit into it, they sometimes decide that whatever it is you want them to do is the very last thing that THEY want to do.
When you have a photo session planned, this can be stressful for you as the parent! But rest assured, I am so ready for your toddler's personality, and we will find a way to make the session work with what they need. There are a few things that can be done ahead of time to help prepare everyone though, and help things go as smoothly as they can while still including your adorable agent of chaos!
Scheduling your session
The very best thing you can do to plan for success is to schedule your session at an ideal time for your toddler. A tired or hungry two year old is a sad two year old, so make sure that your little one is well rested and fed. Is your toddler happier in the morning, or after their nap? Let's be sure that we time the session around this happiest time of day!
Talking to your child
One thing I've found always triggers a meltdown in my own toddler is trying to convince him to do something he doesn't understand or recognize. I've drastically reduced the number of new-activity-induced tantrums by helping him know what to expect, and I think it's a great tip that can help with a lot of other kids.
Talk to your little one about the upcoming session to help them feel ready for it. Tell them how much fun it's going to be, and about the new friend that's going to come and take pictures for the family to enjoy. By hyping them up and getting them familiar with the idea, they won't be quite so shocked when the time comes for me to come point this strange camera thing at them.
During the session, despite all your preparation, there is still a good chance that your kid will act out at some point during the session. If this happens, do your best to stay relaxed! This is normal toddler behaviour, and we can get through it together. Don't get upset or raise your voice at them, as this will often make things worse. We can work on redirecting to something that will cheer them up, or just give them a few moments to feel what they feel. It's hard being that little!
During the session
The photos from childhood that people often love the most are the ones that show a happy family doing every day, normal activities. Plan to do some activities during our session that your child loves, and this will help them feel comfortable and relaxed. Some good examples are dress up, blowing bubbles, or reading books.
We can work on some of the slightly more posed/prompted portraits in small spurts, and plenty of natural playful moments in between! Switching things up should help your toddler not get bored and will give us plenty of variety for your gallery.
The Last Ditch Effort
If your toddler is reward motivated, you can always have one last ace up your sleeve... good old fashioned bribery! This isn't for every family I know, but for a special occasion, it's at least something to consider. You can hide some little treats in your pocket to pull out when it feels right, or reveal the exciting news that after the nice photographer is all done, you'll have some ice cream ready. Whatever works, right?