The se­crets to rais­ing a well-be­haved tod­dler

Want a calm and co­op­er­a­tive child? This is what you need to do…

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Yourbuys -

Do you dream of be­ing the mum whose tod­dler doesn’t have a tantrum when it’s time to leave the playground? Do you wish she could be rea­son­able when you sug­gest that one bis­cuit is enough? And do you hope that she doesn’t throw a wob­bly in the su­per­mar­ket? Then read on…

Em­ploy th­ese nine par­ent­ing se­crets and you’ll dif­fuse much of your tod­dler’s neg­a­tive be­hav­iour and en­cour­age her to be calmer and more co­op­er­a­tive.

OF­FER em­pa­thy

Many par­ents feel in­dulging their lit­tle one’s moans and groans will lead to more of the same at­ten­tion-seek­ing be­hav­iour. When your child takes a not-so-se­ri­ous tum­ble and cries seem­ingly un­nec­es­sar­ily, do you re­act by say­ing ‘You’re okay, stop cry­ing’? If she’s whin­ing be­cause some­one has taken the toy she was play­ing with, do you soothe, ‘Oh, it’s not that bad’?

Par­ent­ing ex­pert Ca­role Saad, one of the co-au­thors of Kids Don’t Come with a Man­ual (Best of Par­ent­ing Pub­lish­ing, avail­able from­stof­par­ent­, sug­gests tak­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach of tun­ing in to your child’s feel­ings. “This prob­lem is real to your child. So em­pathise with her. Say ‘Oh dear, I sus­pect that hurts’, or ‘You seem frus­trated some­one else is play­ing with that toy’,” Ca­role says. If your child is very young, she sug­gests you use sym­pa­thetic fa­cial ex­pres­sions and the tone of your voice to show you un­der­stand she’s up­set. “Em­pa­thy al­lows her to get over the is­sue quicker as she feels un­der­stood.”

RE­PLACE COM­MANDS with choices

Around the age of two, chil­dren want to have some con­trol in their lives. The other co-au­thor, Nadim Saad, says at this stage your com­mands seem like a red rag to a bull. “If she doesn’t get what she wants, she screams, which nor­mally gets a re­ac­tion, and wrenches con­trol from the par­ent,” Nadim says. To avoid this, re­place a com­mand with two lim­ited choices, both of which you find ac­cept­able. So you might say: ‘I have ce­real or por­ridge, which would you like?’ or ‘ Would you like to wear your red or blue dress?’

Giv­ing choices might feel like hard work, but in the long term it will save hours of tantrums. “Give her th­ese lim­ited choices all the time, and your child will feel that she has a voice and an el­e­ment of con­trol,” Nadim says. “And there’s an added ben­e­fit that she’ll know how to make a de­ci­sion.”


the ‘no’ word

Chil­dren need bound­aries to be­have well, so it’s im­por­tant to set them. They need to know what’s ex­pected and how to stay safe. Nadim says there are ways to get your child to re­spect th­ese bound­aries. For ex­am­ple, most par­ents use the words ‘no’, ‘can’t’ and ‘mustn’t’, which im­me­di­ately raise a tod­dler’s hack­les – and her cu­rios­ity. Say­ing ‘No, don’t go near the road!’ just makes it more tempt­ing. In­stead, Nadim says you should give a clear ex­pla­na­tion in­stead: “Roads are for cars, not peo­ple. Paths are for peo­ple so we stay safe.”

Putting a pos­i­tive spin on it in this way re­moves op­po­si­tion. “If your tod­dler asks for an ice-cream half an hour be­fore din­ner, don’t say ‘No, it’s nearly din­ner time’, say ‘Yes, you can have an ice-cream, but af­ter we’ve had din­ner’,” Nadim sug­gests.

AVOID an ar­gu­ment

There will be times when your tod­dler wants some­thing now, and won’t take no for an an­swer.

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