Paint on the walls? Poop on the floor? Dog’s water bowl flooding your kitchen? Sounds like you have a toddler. If you do, the days can be long and your temper short.
There are plenty of “techniques” or “systems” to help parents manage behavior challenges, and many of them work wonders. But, if you don’t have time (when do moms really have time?) to read a book and are in need of some quick behavior fixes, here are 3 great strategies that can immediately point behavior in the right direction.
1. STOP, go over to the child, get down to their level and make eye contact. This is so easy to do, and ridiculously effective, but many times we don’t even think about it. We yell from the kitchen sink, “don’t throw toys in the house” and wonder why our kids don’t listen to us. If you want to eradicate a behavior, you need your presence to be felt. Think about the difference if your boss was to call you from vacation in Hawaii to say that you had better be working on that assignment he gave you versus him standing over your shoulder saying it. To a toddler, being a room away, or even a couch away, can be a whole separate planet.
This one is easy to implement – stop what you’re doing, go over to your child, and get down to their level so you’re talking to them instead of at them. Tell them what you want them to do using a neutral tone. Then, if they don’t listen, you can use your best mommy means business voice.
2. Direct your kids with what you want them to do instead of what you want them to stop doing. This one is not always easy to remember because it goes against what we’re used to when correcting children. It’s so natural to say, “stop doing that,” “no we don’t touch that,” etc., etc.. It can take time for this particular strategy to become a habit. Heck, even though my toddler affords me plenty of opportunities to practice, I still forget this tip at times. But, the good news is that it works as soon as you start using it.
If you want to form a habit of directing your kids with what you want them to do, it helps if you find a way to remind yourself to do so. Try setting an alert on your phone to go off everyday for a month reminding you of this. I found that the daily reminders always happen to go off at just the right time…. or is it that toddlers are always into something….?
Here’s what directing your child with what you want them to do looks like in action. My son loves to play with water. During bath time, this means that we frequently have to prevent floods. Instead of saying, “I’m going to take away that cup if you don’t quit pouring water out of the tub,” you would say, “if you want to play with the bath cup, you need to keep the water in the tub.” It may seem obvious to an adult that in the first example if the child listens and their cup isn’t taken away, then that would mean they get to keep it. To a young one, however, it is much more clear when we actually say it. Then, they hear “I can keep this” versus “something is being taken away” (read – meltdown prevention). You’ll like this one. Give it a go.
3. SLEEP. Ummm, hello? We are all in better moods when we get enough sleep. We don’t need to give toddlers any additional reasons to act out. They find enough on their own… If your child is having behavior issues, this is a wonderful place to start. Make sure they are getting enough sleep. Just like adults, some kids will need more sleep than others.
Here are the “sleep needs” by age from the National Sleep Foundation. I always always always shoot for the high end of the chart. When my little ones get it, they are different kids, and it makes everyone happy.
These three quick tips for tired moms are an excellent start to guiding your tots behavior in the right direction. If you’re still having trouble with your child’s behavior, email me your situation or simply stay tuned – more behavior tips coming soon!