Raising young children is probably more art than science. While you may or may not have been blessed with the innate ability to be a great parent, you can learn good parenting skills. Realize that life as a toddler can be very frustrating. They can't get what they want on their own and when they can't do it themselves, they may communicate their frustration by throwing a tantrum or other misbehavior.
Here are 5 keys to getting good behavior from your toddlers.
1. Head off tantrums before they begin
- If a tantrum breaks out, stay calm and try to distract your child. Don't worry about minor eruptions, but if your child is hitting, kicking, and screaming. You have to hold him or her close to you or if that doesn't work, try a short period of alone time (for the child that is).
- Recognize and avoid tantrum triggers. You should know if your child more often than not has tantrums in a certain setting, Avoid that place or situation if possible. If it's necessary to take her to a stressful situation, make sure she's not tired or hungry.
- Use a Mister Rogers voice - kind, soft, friendly - when you ask your child to do something. Use please and thank you a lot. "Taylor, please put the knife down... Thank you"
- Stay calm when you hear, "No". It may sound defiant to you, but it's just another word to your child if you don't overreact.
- Don't say, "No" to you child very often. Pick your battles.
- Make sure your child understands what you are asking of her. It may be crystal clear to you, but may be confused.
- Let your child choose frequently. It teaches independence. "Which shoes would you like to wear this morning?
- Don't bargain. Don't make deals like, "If you stop screaming, we'll go to MacDonalds for lunch." You'll just be teaching your child to behave only when he's being rewarded.
- Make a game out of good behavior. He'll be more likely to do what you want if you make it fun.
- Establish a daily schedule and stick to it. Your child likes to know what to expect.
2. Set Consequences and Enforce Them
When your child breaks the rules, she needs to know what the consequences are and you need to be completely committed to enforcing the consequences. Dad and Mom, and Nanny all have to be on the same page. Rules must be enforced and consequences meted out uniformly. This reduces your child's confusion and need to test the rules.
Here are some ideas that will help.
- Make consequences logical. "If you don't put your train set away right now, you won't be able to play with it tomorrow. Taking away the use of the toy connected to the misbehavior is a logical consequence.
- Let your child experience the consequences of his actions naturally as long as he is not endangered. If he breaks a toy, he won't be able to play with it any more.
- Timeout. If after a warning, your child continues to misbehave, lead your child to a designated timeout spot. Make it short - 2 to 5 minutes for young children. If your child resists, hold him or her by the shoulders until time out is over.
3. Keep Rules to a Minimum
With very young children, protect your child from harm with a few simple rules. You will add rules as needed, but watch for signs of confusion and frustration from your child indicating that you're expecting too much of them.
4. Accept Your Child
Your child will develop a unique personality, a complex package of genetic and learned traits. You may not like your child's personality because he or she is not like you or too much like you. Perhaps you'd prefer to have a more athletic son or a more outgoing daughter. Stop it. Accept your child. If they feel unaccepted, they will be more likely to behave badly.
5. Do It With Love
Show your child that you love him or her. Your child must feel that your love far outweighs any punishment or consequences. Reassure them of your love with frequent hugs and kisses. Praise them when they follow the rules. It will motivate them to more frequent good behavior.