Wouldn’t it be nice if your sweet bundle of joy came with an ‘instruction manual’ at birth? A manual that provides step-by-step directions on how to handle the many challenges children can present.
Reality is, there are no simple or clear cut answers to raising children, but there are certainly different parenting styles and chosen methods of discipline, such as ‘timeout’ or ‘positive discipline’.
Are you asking yourself, what is positive discipline? The thought behind positive discipline is that children can and will behave without threats, bribes, yelling or spankings.
Here are some tips to help you find a more positive way to approach discipline.
1. Try to understand the root of the behavior.
If your toddler is hitting another child, could it be because they do not have the vocabulary yet to express in words what they are feeling? A way to help defuse this situation is to get down on their level, look them in the eyes while gently grasping their hands and letting them know in a firm yet loving voice that hands are not made for hitting. Acknowledge their feelings, talk with them, not at them and remember that they are learning how to socialize while in a developmental state of “me – only” mindset.
2. Little eyes are watching and little ears are listening.
Simply put, if you spank your child, yet tell them not to hit, aren’t you sending a mixed message? If you tell your child not to yell at his brother, yet you are raising your voice at him, aren’t you sending a mixed message? Children mimic what they see us do.
3. Use ‘Emotion’ Cards.
Introducing these types of positive behavior tools when a child is young can help them put a feeling to a picture. If a child is not able to express in words what they feel, the picture cards can help. For example, the ‘sad’ card shows a face with tears running down the cheeks. In daily life you can share with your child what ‘sad’ looks like and over time they learn to connect the picture with the feeling.
4. Give attention to the behavior you want your child to display.
If your child is sharing, tell them they are doing a great job of sharing. If your child is playing nicely, let them know. Praising your child when they are acting in a positive manner, is positive discipline. Even when they are behaving the way you want them to, this is discipline because you are allowing them to receive the praise and attention in a positive way that will help reduce the negative behaviors of getting sought after attention.
5. Offer choices.
Giving children the ability to make a choice can decrease ‘melt-downs’ and develops confidence that they can be happy even when they don’t get what they want. Make sure to always offer choices that you are okay with either one they choose. When your child starts to appear agitated over something, give them choices. For example, your child is focused on a toy that another child has, rather than make a big deal about it, present 2 other toys for your child to choose from to play with until the toy he wanted is available. Odds are he will lose interest in the original toy.
We’ve all heard the saying’ pick your battles’, which is a wise way to view life with a toddler. Young child are learning about emotions, what they are, how they feel inside and what to do with them. It’s our job as parents and caregivers to guide this process in a positive way. Reward the behavior you want your child to display and do not give attention to the negative behavior. There really can be peace in the home of toddlers’, it just takes patience, consistency and the understanding that what you do now will shape who your child will become as an adult.
Check out our last positive discipline blog and continue to look for more in the series. Next week we will hear from Debbie Farr about her suggestions to caregivers when a temper tantrum arrises.
Nanny Sheri In 1987, Nanny Sheri Lopez graduated with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education and, in 1992, received a B.A. in Business. Over 32 years she has obtained certifications from 52 different programs, including: Certified Nursing Assistant, Certified Nanny Training, Certified Newborn Care Specialist Training, Certified Infant Massage Teacher, Certified Baby Signing Time Instructor, Certified American Red Cross CPR, first aid & AED Instructor, National Child Passenger Safety Technician Certification and she passed the International Nanny Association Basic Skills Exam, as well as the Credentialed Exam.