^^ My Friend’s Adorable Three Year Old ^^
Today I was asked by someone on another site, “How Do You Discipline Toddlers?” I’m sure you all know that I don’t have one but what you don’t know is that I have a pretty good answer and many good role models to help me answer this question. No matter what age, this is a good way to look at it, but toddlers bring a whole different factor in, and that is their inability to understand that they are doing anything wrong.
Between the ages of two and four the main thought process a toddler has is based on discovery. Cause and effect play into a lot of what they do. If they wear this outfit, crazy as it is, they thought it was pretty and people will applaud them for it. This helps develop their ability to make decisions but their bases on that decision is impulse versus background knowledge. They don’t consider that pink and purple go well together because they are complimentary or considered girly. They simply see it, think ooo pretty, and put it on.
This goes right along with them “misbehaving.” I can’t use the words “being bad.” No child is bad. Children do not mean to give us a hard time, they simply have a hard time themselves. There are only so many words they can use to describe their feelings and needs and this often produces a lot of frustration. One way to get that frustration out is by “acting out” in their own way which can show in a tantrum or doing an action they have been told not to just to get your attention.
Rather than telling these children, who have feelings and just want your love and attention, that they are bad, the absolute best way to remedy a situation is to redirect. If they are throwing a fit ask them why. Try to understand what the problem is. Ask questions. Are you hungry? Are you hot? Are you tired? Is there a different game you would like to play? Children often get overwhelmed trying to figure out what they want so if you give them options at least they have a base to try to explain what is going on with them. If this doesn’t work and they continue having a hard time, it is your job to make the decision for them to do something else. Set them up with something fun. Completely ignore what they were doing before and show them something productive and fun that they can do instead.
Something I’ve seen work wonders is the “Relaxing Jar.” You take a mason jar, fill it with water, a bunch of glitter glue, regular glitter in different sizes and shapes, and a squirt of food coloring. These work instead of time outs. They are not a punishment. They are a way to let the child chose to calm themselves down. You let them hold the jar and turn it upside down. Ask them to watch the glitter fall from one side all the way to the bottom. It’s amazing how quickly the child will get focused on it and forget there even was a problem. I’d say this is a last choice for me because I’d prefer to fix the situation and validate the child rather than just distract them but whatever works for you instead of getting mad is great.
Once your child is older you can restrict things. They will be old enough to understand why you are doing it. At the toddler age though, the only thing taking away their property does or putting them in a corner does is create resentment. They aren’t thinking, oh I did this so now I’m in trouble. They are simply thinking, mommy and daddy are mean. This makes them much less likely to want to come to the parent when they do need help because they don’t trust they are going to get what they need or the respect/validation they crave.
So, take some time to help your child work through their troubles instead of putting on the dictatorship hat. It will benefit you both by removing the frustration from the situation. Kids are not out to manipulate or hurt you. They are so much more innocent than that. They are just learning how to act, so give them a good role model to learn from.
Thank You for Reading!