Parenting tips to discipline your children@ Reward me

Where to begin?, Discipline

How to tame your toddler before it’s too late!


Why do children need boundaries? Children feel safe with predictable boundaries. Left to their own devices, they will often create their own boundaries and rules in order to express themselves. If you watch children play, it’s not unusual to see them taking 20 minutes working out the rules and then just five minutes actually playing the game!

It is a parent’s “job” to provide opportunities for self-expression within predictable boundaries for their children. For example, giving your toddler a choice within the boundary that you’re setting at that moment helps them to feel empowered.

Where to begin?
When your child is still a baby, begin with routine and predictable family structures. This allows children to start recognising when they get hungry or sleepy or are going to get bathed. A day is a long time for little children, so if it’s broken into predictable blocks it helps to build a sense of control and create self-discipline later. At about 14 months old, children begin to realise that there’s a discrepancy between what they want and what you want: their wish is not your command and the relationship is not entirely symbiotic.  This is when temper tantrums and other undesirable behaviours can arise but in order for them to learn that they are separate and autonomous to you it is important that they loose the battle.

Discipline
Cultivate an authoritative manner (it will certainly stand you in good stead later as well): a stern voice, look and body language that says “Ok, that’s it – don’t even think about it.” It might also be a good idea not to wave an index finger around in a cross fashion – your child will quite possibly take some delight in waving it back at you!

NB It’s important to remember that it’s normal for an 18-month-old toddler to be getting into everything. Although you may sometimes find their actions infuriating, at this age it’s not yet a discipline issue. Young toddlers love to explore and this is their “try anything” stage. When they put toothpaste down the sink or persist in unrolling the toilet roll over and over again, they are busy learning. So what can you do as a parent at this time? It largely boils down to cultivating the right mind-set and acting accordingly.

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Be realistic: Although you want to keep your home nice, don’t expect it to look the way you want it to for the time being. Cover your sofa with a throw rug; remove that pretty bowl from your low table; choose washable curtains and rugs (not dry-clean only); keep the bathroom door closed (important from a safety perspective); keep a pack of baby wipes handy.

Watch out for your toddler trying to climb things: Toddlers love to climb to see if there’s anything interesting going on above their heads. Be especially careful of your child dragging a chair over to counter tops, walls, doors and banisters in a bid to get into or onto high places from which they could fall.

Make sure your home has been safety-proofed: Whether it’s the dangling cord of an iron or kettle, or a plug socket that seems to be inviting small fingers, you need to safety-proof your home as soon as – if not before – your child starts becoming mobile. The best thing to do is to get down on your hands and knees and inspect your house from your child’s perspective.

Be aware of flashpoints: Be realistic about which times of day are potentially difficult and adapt your routine to see if matters improve. If your child acts up before lunch, maybe they are hungry, so bring lunchtime forward by half an hour. Similarly, if they’re getting into mischief in the evening, it could be due to over-tiredness and it should be bedtime.

Cultivate eyes in the back of your head: As a parent you’ve probably already developed a sixth sense about when your toddler is getting up to mischief. Many mothers say they know their toddler is up to something when the house goes quiet…

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