Friday, October 9, 2015

20 Commandments of Toddler Discipline

Many parents expect the toddler years to be difficult, but effective discipline techniques can make the “terrible two’s” a little easier to handle. The following is a synopsis of an article found here. Remember that every family and every child is different, and some of these may be more effective than others. Pick a few of these to try out, and let us know how it goes!

Expect rough spots. Certain situations and times of the day tend to trigger bad behavior. Give your child a heads-up so that s/he is more prepared to switch gears.

Pick your battles. If you say no 20 times a day, it will lose its effectiveness. Prioritize behaviors into large, medium, and those too insignificant to bother with.

Use a prevent defense. Make your house kid-friendly, and have reasonable expectations.

Make your statements short and sweet. Speak in brief sentences, such as "No hitting." This is much more effective than "Chaz, you know it's not nice to hit the dog." You'll lose Chaz right after "you know."

Distract and redirect. Obviously, you do this all day. But when you try to get your child interested
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in a different activity, s/he will invariably go back to what s/he was doing -- just to see whether s/he can get away with it. Don't give up. Even if your child unrolls the entire toilet-paper roll for the 10th time today, calmly remove him/her from the bathroom and close the door.

Introduce consequences. Your child should learn the natural outcomes of his/her behavior -- otherwise known as cause and effect.

Don't back down to avoid conflict. Stick to your guns. Later, you'll be happy you did.

Anticipate bids for attention. If you don't provide something for your toddler to do when you're busy, s/he will find something -- and the results may not be pretty.

Focus on the behavior, not the child. Always say that a particular behavior is bad. Never tell your child that s/he is bad.

Give your child choices. This will make him/her feel as if s/he has got a vote. Just make sure you don't offer too many options and that they're all things that you want to accomplish, such as, "It's your choice: You can put your shoes on first, or your coat."

Don't yell. But change your voice. It's not the volume, but your tone that gets your point across.

Catch your child being good. If you praise your child when s/he behaves well, s/he will do it more often -- and will be less likely to behave badly just to get your attention.

Act immediately. Don't wait to discipline your toddler. S/he won't remember why s/he is in trouble more than five minutes after the bad behavior.

Be a good role model. If you're calm under pressure, your child will take the cue. And if you have a temper tantrum when you're upset, expect that s/he will do the same.

Don't treat your child as if she's an adult. S/he really doesn't want to hear a lecture from you -- and won't be able to understand it. The next time s/he throws his/her spaghetti, don't break into the "You Can't Throw Your Food" lecture. Calmly evict him/her from the kitchen for the night.

Use time-outs -- even at this age. Reserve time-outs for particularly inappropriate behaviors -- if your child bites his friend's arm, for example -- and use a time-out every time the offense occurs. (Even more effective is a “Time-In” – see more information about that, here.)
Don't negotiate with your child or make promises. Try to avoid saying anything like, "If you behave, I'll buy you that doll you want." Otherwise, you'll create a 3-year-old whose good behavior will always come with a price tag.

Shift your strategies over time. What worked beautifully when your child was 15 months probably isn't going to work when s/he is 2.

Don't spank. Although you may be tempted at times, remember that spanking can teach kids that it is okay to hit if you are bigger.

And most importantly:
Remind your child that you love him/her. It's always good to end a discipline discussion with a positive comment. This shows your child that you're ready to move on and not dwell on the problem. It also reinforces the reason you're setting limits -- because you love him/her.


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