Last updated on Jan 29th, 2021 at 03:25 pm
Do you dream of being the mom whose toddler doesn’t have a strop when it’s time to leave the play centre? Do you wish he could be reasonable when you suggest that three biscuits are enough? And do you hope he doesn’t throw a tantrum every time you go to Pick n Pay?
It is possible. Employ these three parenting strategies to help defuse your toddler’s negative behavior:
1. Offer choices
“At around two years old, children start to want some control,” says parenting co-expert Nadim Saad, “and your commands can be like a red rag to a bull.” If he doesn’t get what he wants, he screams, which normally gets a reaction, and wrenches control from the parent. To avoid this behaviour, replace a command with two limited choices, which must both be options that you’re happy with. So you might say: “I have porridge or cereal, which would you like today?” or “Would you like to wear your red or blue shorts?”’
Giving choices to your toddler might feel like hard work to start with, but it will save hours of tantrums in the long run. “Give him these limited choices all the time, and your child will feel that he has a voice and an element of control,” adds Nadim. “The added benefit is that he’ll learn how to make decisions for himself.”
2. Ditch ‘no’
“Your child needs boundaries to behave well, so it’s important to set them so he knows what’s expected of him, and so you can keep him safe,’ says Nadim. ‘But there are ways and means of getting your child to respect these boundaries. The words “no”, “can’t” and “mustn’t” immediately raise a toddler’s hackles – and his curiosity. Saying “N”! Don’t go near the road!” just makes it all the more tempting. So, offer a clear explanation instead: “Roads are for cars not people. Paths are for people so we stay safe”.’ Putting a positive spin in this way removes opposition – in all situations. ‘If your toddler asks for an ice-cream half an hour before dinner, don’t say “No, it’s nearly dinner time”,’ says Nadim. ‘Say, “Yes, you can have an ice cream, but after we’ve eaten dinner”.’
3. Use positive consequences instead of punishment
Consequences are more effective than punishments, but they must be logical, related to the deed, and reasonable so that you are always able to carry them out. Always explain the consequence in terms that your toddler can understand so he can make a choice. “For example, if your toddler gets down from the table mid-meal, try saying ‘Children who want to eat sit at the table’. If he doesn’t return, say empathetically, without any sign of anger, “You seem to have finished your meal so I am removing your plate” – that’s the consequence of his action”,’ advises Carole. Consistency is the key factor – if you offer the same consequence every time your toddler gets down from the table, he will soon learn that if he wants to eat, he must stay in his seat.