Positive Discipline for Toddlers

Unfortunately, young toddlers do not have much of a conscience. It hasn’t begun to develop quite yet. So what do you do when your toddler bites or hits you? Or throws your iPhone in the toilet, or throws a clay potted plant down the marble staircase?

Positive Reinforcement

Before I share some thoughts on discipline for young toddlers or infants, let’s first consider deterring naughty behaviour in the first place. Positive reinforcement of good behaviour goes a long way to assist in encouraging our young ones to feel a healthy pull to look for guidance from caregivers and eventually learn to make decisions on their own on how to behave well. Young children require parents to teach them what good behaviour is. Children love to accept praise for behaviour displayed and therefore repeat acts based on the feedback parents and caregivers provide.

Ok, this is a good premise for an older toddler who has the capacity to wonder about consequences or rewards in advance. Positive reinforcement warrants a whole separate post. For now, I will focus on practicing positive reinforcement and insisting on consistency.

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Tips: How to Discipline One and Two Year Olds

As our babies turn into toddlers we begin to think about discipline. No wonder; they start to get into everything at an alarming rate! We want to keep them from harm and also begin to teach our little ones what is right and what is wrong.

Unfortunately, young toddlers do not have much of a conscience. Conscience hasn’t begun to develop quite yet. So what do you do when your toddler bites or hits you? Or throws your iPhone in the toilet, or throws a clay potted plant down the marble staircase?

From the time around your baby’s first birthday, he is capable of understanding what the word “no” means. Your command of “no” may only be accepted at that very moment and may be forgotten later on. With repetition, your wishes will be absorbed, slowly, and your little one will understand in days, or weeks, or maybe even months. Consistent repetition is key. Say, “mommy doesn’t like that,” or “not allowed, dangerous,” or “that is not allowed, but you may have this, what does this do?”

Babies are mostly in favour of cooperating on a level they may not even know yet, but he is not ready for hard consequences and doesn’t understand your anger. Your child is not quite able to learn anything useful from your punishment so even if you are infuriated with your little one’s behaviour, if you are running late and he has decided to run and play chase, or even if your smart little person has figured out how to take his seatbelt off and you are on the freeway, yelling, harsh scolding, any loss of temper or even hitting of any kind will have no bearing on him. He does not understand any of your eruptions or relate the outbursts from you to any bad behaviour that you deem happening.

At this young age it is better to be clever and have a win-win scenario with your toddler. You can create the scenario. Tantrums are better to be avoided, if you can, until wee ones can get a better handle on understanding their emotions. At this stage, life can be very frustrating and everything is so very new to your infant. I recommend that you DO NOT try for absolute control and pick your battles. Perhaps life issues can be organised so that it seems like your little one makes a choice you can accept.

Foreseeing possible obstacles and areas that may bring you to the “red zone” with your toddler and instead leading him or her to the result you want and guiding him into behaving as you want him to behave can be achieved. See the rocks and steer around them. How do I do this? Distraction. Healthy distraction. I do not promise treats, nor do I give in to things I do not want to offer. No sweets, no extra time on electronics, and no, he cannot have everything he wants. I am armed and ready with alternatives.

For example, I know that getting my little one to leave the park is sometimes difficult, so I am prepared with his favourite blanket and a bottle of milk. I go to the park almost daily a couple hours before his nap. He is ready to leave the park and volunteers to sit in his stroller to enjoy his refreshment. It has worked so far and is a routine that is comfortable. He is tuckered out and welcomes the wind down.

Another example; after playing with numerous toys from my son’s toy boxes there is a massive mess to contend with. I want to teach my son to help me and pick up his things when finished playing. If I insist that he pick up his blocks, he will not. If I make a game of it and be creative, I can start to instill the habit of what comes after play and what behaviour is to be expected.

There is going to be trial and error, there are going to be lapses, moodiness and defiance. With calm, yet stern guidance and clever “manipulation” on a very consistent basis, you will find battles lessening and your child will grow up learning lessons quickly. Be prepared to repeat the same instructions in very few words as possible and let the little things go at this point.

Remember

  • If we are late for work, late for the cinema, or late for ANYTHING, it is not our child’s fault and our toddlers don’t understand that they need to provide extra cooperation and quit taking the shoe off you just put on.
  • If we throw all sorts of toys around and muck around dumping out crayon boxes or blocks on the floor, it might be that our little one may throw spaghetti on the floor, as curiosity does get the best of toddlers as part of their discovery and learning.
  • Monkey see, monkey do. If you yell obscenities at the driver in front of you for having absolutely no skill behind the wheel, whisper under your breath or try and just think what you’d like to say as your little one will be quite proud to learn a new word.
  • Keep at it – you will start to see results and the payoff is priceless! You are doing amazing!
  • If you get very frustrated and are overwhelmed – YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It is ok. It will pass. Walk away. Take a breath and tell someone how you are feeling, when you can. Let your toddler get upset and cry. Just keep them safe and take a minute if you need. Do your best and learn from each situation.
  • You and your son or daughter will have a lifetime getting to know one another through the changes that are life.

Growth is Important

Let your child have this time, and times to come after, to learn and develop. We can provide a healthy, nurturing environment. I wish to teach my child to ultimately think for himself and learn what is right and what is wrong. When it comes time for your child to decide when to be good and when to be naughty on purpose, which one he decides will depend largely on how he feels about the adults who are special to him and have power over him. If at the next stage of growing up he or she feels that you as their caregiver and parent are loving and approving and on his side, he will want (for the most part) to please you and he will behave as you wish (with lapses). Of course, do not mistake unhealthy giving – in and lack of discipline a way to show love or approval. It is in the best interest of the child. Be gentle, and compromise where it makes sense, however, never feel badly about a decision to say “no” where you need! You are the boss and as a leader you can listen and be attentive, AND make a final decision for the good of the toddler.

 

Face the Guilt of Parenting

Plans Ahead, Our Son Turns Two

My son turns two years old in the near future and as a flight attendant, I am not sure if I will be there for this very important day! This is one negative truth when it comes to being a working mother who travels for work. I have a roster reported to me monthly and this is one basis that I regret to have as a planning, organised mother.

If indeed I am sent to a destination and am operating a flight during my son’s birthday, I do have options to weigh. Prior to the time of the event I will bid for days off. Secondly, once I view my roster and if there is conflict, I could send out swap requests and make arrangements that suit me. As a last resort, I could call in sick and spend the day with my beautiful family and make my son’s day very special.

Face The Guilt

At times, in life, we all know that timing doesn’t always work out in our favour and responsibilities get in the way! I have to face the guilty part of me and ask, should I really call in sick if all else fails? I think I can find other options and not let my guilty feelings lead to snap decisions that may not be a great option in the long run and really doesn’t benefit anyone anyway.

Realistic Solutions

This being just an example of many juggling skills we must have, time is a tricky one. We just have to do our best. Remember, there are options and you can make your son or daughter’s birthday or special event a great experience. It is the effort that counts. Maybe there are circumstances where we really cannot make the arrangements we want to, but this is life and disappointments are a very important part of life.

I may have to utilise some of the options I have come up with regarding my son’s upcoming second birthday. This is a milestone birthday, and I have decided to celebrate his “big day” on the closest day to his actual date as possible. I will also have to coordinate with my husband’s schedule. He is also a travelling, working Father! My goodness, our son will not know the difference and at this point, we are exposing him to a celebration he does not yet understand. It’s a day where he will feel very loved and fussed over and he will most likely love it – a fun day with Dad and me!

Okay, this was a more easy issue to solve, but the same rules can apply for various situations. Try not to let guilt cloud your decisions and make the best of every situation. If honest attempts are made and we do all we can to make things happen for our family, rest easier; or as easy as you can when it comes to family matters! Oof, it’s not easy!

Road to Guilt Free Working Parents


Family Matters

The number one priority in your life is your family. Isn’t this one of the main reasons why we work so hard at our careers? You, like me at times, may feel a strong sense of guilt being a working mom (or Dad). Family matters! I want to share some facts and help you become a guilt free working parent.

Hopefully we are in a position to be following our passion when it comes to our careers, that is ideal, but we do what we have to contribute and feel some self worth and reward. Having passions and goals or purpose coincide is of great pursuit throughout life and is entirely a different topic!

So here we are, spending time away from our little ones, and the minute we even start preparing to walk out the door, the stress levels begin to soar and I, personally, worry if I can make the escape each and every time.

Tips For Guilty Feeling Parents

  • Try not to be too hard on yourself. Give yourself a break and remind yourself that you are contributing to the nest so that your little one(s) can have opportunities available to them, whether it be better childcare or extra activities that will help them grow and learn.
  • Surround your child with your support network and have comfort knowing your child is in good hands. It’s great for children to be exposed to a network of familiar family and friends so that their social skills develop and they are exposed to more variety, thus helping with adapting and coping skills.
  • Have comfort in knowing that you among millions of people like yourself. It is the way of today’s society and therefore there are many support communities out there and resources are easy to find.
  • Lastly, know that your child is OK! He or she is sad to see you go as you are their world and they show you this by crying and clinging. This is all right, let them express their emotions. The child will be just fine after some time. Trust they are in the good hands of the caregiver you so carefully chose. (Or get cameras installed to ease your mind)

When I return from my trips, I spend time with my family of course, but it is more than just time – it is quality, uninterrupted, doing things together, no electronics – time. We are not perfect and we try our best as every moment is very precious.

One thing I would like to work on is adding more quality time with just my husband. I shall tackle this next and perhaps share any tidbits I learn with you as I think this is a very common challenge.

Any tips, please feel free to share!