Dealing with your toddler

Dealing with a toddler doesn't come naturally for most of us. The fact is that there is no "Raising Toddler 101". So most of us, when the push comes to shove, dive into the situation full of emotions and unable to handles things effectively.

Next time you are dealing with your toddler, keep these points in mind. Actually, it will do you more good to practice these on a regular basis even when there isn't much misbehaving as this will act as a prevention for future tantrums (in frequency, severity or both).

1) Give your toddler choices. But make sure that you are giving them limited (usually 2) number of options. Of course, these should be such that whatever is chosen, the child ends up doing what you want. This usually takes the form of two different ways of doing things.

Ex: "Do you want to tidy up while singing or while jumping like a frog?" Notice that in either case, the child will end up cleaning up, but he/she will get a sense of empowerment and independence as he/she considers the two options.

2) Let them know of the rules. Begin to use time-outs or other such displinary methods. But you need to be always consistant. CONSISTANCY is the key.

If they see that you only enforce the rules only some of the time, then they will push the envelope and see how much they can get away with. Mind you, they will do this anyways, but when beginning this form of displinary actions, you MUST be consistant in your reaction.

Speaking of reaction, it would help to be stern with them, but don't get upset with them. Remember that you are not upset with them, but with their behavior. They are not their behaviors.

If you are not sure how to do this, picture the "best" teacher that you had or have seen (even on t.v.) and try to imitate how they handle such situations. More often than not, our ideas of "best" teachers will include general good guidelines on how to properly handle these kinds of situations.

3) This is perhaps one of the most overlooked element when dealing with toddlers. When you are asking them to stop a behavior, make sure that you give them an alternative pattern of behavior.

Otherwise, they are being asked to stop a certain behavior and they might not know how else to react to those types of situations. This empty void, if you will, will create a 'need' for them to find something to do, some behavior that they can adapt. If none is presented, then there is a good chance that they will go back to their old behavior.

Ex: Instead of "Stop whining", try something like this. "When you whine, you are making mommy not want to listen to you. If you want me to listen, try asking nicely and say 'Mommy, can I tell you something?'" Notice that you are giving the child actual example of exactly what to say so that they can easily model your example.

Remember after you say something like this, you must be consistent in enforcing your own claims. If the child whines, don't ignore them, but calmy and matter of factly remind them of your new behavior (we all need reminders)"Remember what mommy said about asking nicely?" Notice how you are given examples so that you can model the exact phrase (if you wish to, that is).

When the child remembers, give them reinforcement for that new behavior that they are trying out so that they link positive feelings to it. This in turn, hopefully, will aid in replacing the old behavior. But for them to see this pattern, negative reinforcement with the old and positive reinforcement with the new, it will take some time and quite a few repetitive reminders. So be patient with them. You were like that too.

4) Of course, we all have heard many times that negative attention is still attention and that children naturally crave attention. This just sounds dangerous, doesn't it?

To reduce the chance of your toddler acting out in order to get any kind of attention (I know that you give him/her a lot of attention already, but...) try to catch them doing something good, nice, well, etc... (you get the idea). What this will do is to help them get their attention, but at the same time, reinforce that particular behavior.

If you are going to give attention anyways, why wait until it's something that focuses on the negative? Why not give it early on a positive and help to reinforce it too?

Two birds with one stone?

I think so.

"education at play"

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