Discipline without the whining
Want to set those all important boundaries for your toddler, but just can’t face the grousing? Here’s how to lay down the rules without the power struggles
Boundaries are vitally important for your toddler, even though it may be tough as a parent to enforce them. When adequate boundaries are in place a child feels safe and supported. These guidelines also help your toddler learn what socially acceptable and unacceptable behaviours are, and he’ll walk away with self control and self discipline after it all – even setting limits for himself in the future. But all too often this exercise ends up in a total toddler meltdown, making you wonder if it’s even worth all the work. The truth is that setting these limits is crucial, especially for a solid, grounded child in the future – and they needn’t be a nightmare to lay down.
PICK YOUR FIGHTS
It’s very important to understand your child’s developmental age and what rules are important at that age. Be confident in your decisions and pick your fights carefully. For example, if your toddler does not want to get dressed in the morning because he wants to watch TV, rather set the limit where no TV is watched in the morning at all, as this prevents continual arguments. But when it comes to choosing what child-friendly show he watches during his allotted TV time, it’s not actually worth arguing, is it?
Try to note when your toddler tries to push the boundaries. If it’s at the shops or around friends, think ahead and plan strategies to try reduce the amount of fighting or whining. It’s also important that any behaviour that places your child or others in harm’s way is controlled immediately – a non-negotiable.
ALL ABOUT CHOICE
Toddlers want to be in charge of their lives, but the reality of being in control is also quite frightening and overwhelming. By giving your little one choices and not just responding with a “no” to his requests, you are allowing him some control over his life. This also has an effect on his future independence. If you keep telling your toddler what to do, how will he learn for himself what the right thing is? The best way to let your tot feel like he has control without giving him free reign is to let him choose between two options. For example, let him choose what to have for breakfast, but make sure he only has two things to choose from (so, he can have cereal or fruit with yoghurt).
DISTRACTIONS ARE A MOM’S BEST FRIEND
Ever notice how your toddler often only plays with things for short bursts of time? That short attention span comes in especially handy when your toddler is having a tantrum or is at risk of hurting himself or others, where he may not be able to control his behaviour. Remove him from the situation – pick up your toddler and place him far away from the item or person causing him distress. Even placing toddlers in time out can assist them to move away from the upsetting situation so they can try to calm themselves down.
WATCH YOUR REACTION
Toddlers just love to push the boundaries, and are watching you to see how you react. Sooner or later you will get angry and you will want to shout at or smack them. Try to resist this impulse, though, as it is never good to discipline in anger.
Rather get down to your child’s level and talk to him in a warm, firm tone about his behaviour. But don’t explain the reason for the rule you made or why his behaviour has been unacceptable more than once – repeating yourself only adds to your frustration and gives your tot the opportunity to try and convince you otherwise. Similarly, it is pointless to try to reason or argue with your toddler. It’s important to not explain the reason for the limit more than once. Just about no one would make an effort to behave appropriately if they were continuously reprimanded for whatever “bad” behaviour they’d done. So instead of focussing on what your toddler is doing wrong, point out what he’s doing right. Acknowledging the positive changes in your toddler’s behaviour can go a long way to solidifying the trend. Reward charts are helpful, but should only be used to acknowledge positive behaviour in the few rules he’s still struggling with. Other than that, there’s no better reward than your love and encouragement. YB