The toddler years are almost as trying to a parent as they are rewarding. Children who can’t seem to learn to stop talking, attempts to be the center of attention at all times, whining, hitting, temper tantrums and other aggressive behaviour- its enough to make the most saintly parent lose her temper.
Here are a few tips to help you prevent such a situation from arising
- Set guidelines ahead of time – whether you are going out or talking on the phone make it clear ahead of time what you plan to do and what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour during that time.
- When you know in advance the trouble spots, distract the child beforehand or schedule a pleasurable activity immediately afterwards so that the child is more co-operative.
- Encourage and praise the co-operative behaviour.
- If you are really angry, remove yourself from the situation till you cool down. Don’t start scolding the child at that point otherwise you may end up loosing your cool completely. (This of course doesn’t apply to potentially dangerous situations where you have to act immediately.)
- Deal with misbehaviour firmly and consistently.
- Ignoring a whining child is a good method as the child is normally looking for attention and will stop when he doesn’t get it.
- Discuss troublesome issues beforehand with your spouse so that you both present a united front to the child. This is very important, as otherwise the child will play one against the other to gain his own way.
- When your child is at his most defiant, don’t react. Create a distraction, ignore the tantrum or give a time out.
- On important public occasions, give specific instructions to your child along with a clear cause and effect relationship between specific misbehaviour and specific punishment.
- If you get really angry, take time off to think up innovative punishments for the child that doesn’t include violence of any kind. For example if the toddler breaks something of value you could make him collect some small amount of money by assigning small chores such as watering plants. Not only will he not mind the chore, he will learn a little about the value of work and money.
- If you blow your top – don’t feel guilty afterwards. All parents lose their control once in a while.
Forms of violence-
Spanking a child teaches him that it is okay to use violence when angry. By the same token it also teaches him to hit back.
A more subtle form of violence that parents often resort to is nagging. Not only is nagging not good for your health, it can also leaves scars on the child’s psyche and contributes to lowered self-esteem and motivation. (I can’t do this properly so why bother or I never do things right).
To avoid constant nagging –
- Establish clear rules for all trouble spots at the outset.
The Golden Rules for setting Rules for young children are: –
- Explain your rules in age appropriate terms.
- Make rules consistent.
- Make rules clear and unambiguous
- Make reasonable rules.
- Repeat the rules often.
- Don’t make too many rules.
- Make it easy for the child to follow the rules.
- Don’t expect perfect compliance.
- Follow the rules yourself.
- Establish logical, firm consequences and stick to them. Don’t be open for negotiation on these points.
- Limit your speech, keeping your message simple and straightforward so that there is no possibility of misunderstanding.
- Focus always on the behaviour, not the child himself, in order to avoid damaging his self-esteem and to obtain greater co-operation.
- Avoid empty threats that the child will only laugh at.
- Count to 10 or remove yourself until the desire to nag vanishes.
Clearly set rules, realistic consequences and consistent follow through will accomplish far more than nagging, with far less damaging consequences for the child..