Sunday, September 2, 2012

20 Toddler tips in 20 days 7.To spank or not to spank

Toddler Survival Tip #7

7. Punishment vs Discipline

Who is raising the child? It's great to the think the village can raise the child, unless the village is full of adults who yell, throw tantrums, spank, pout and generally haven't moved past the toddler stage in their own lives. Sometimes you need to trust your own heart and your own parenting skills, just cause you were raised a certain way, doesn't mean it's the only way. I encourage you to read, research ask other parents, search for support groups, whatever it takes.

Spanking/slapping/hitting a child teaches your child, if you are bigger you can hit. It does not teach self restraint, it teaches the opposite.
Top 10 reasons not to hit a child:

Think of this...after you spank your kid, would you let them play by a busy street unsupervised? A parent might spank a child a hundred times, it would still be unwise to allow that child to play unsupervised by a busy road.

Spanking is a reaction usually born out of fear, worry, concern and frustration. The parent is the one who usually needs the time out before this happens. 

Frustration is greatly eased when parents remember to be kind when they are being firm. Children feel the difference and so do you.

So what CAN you do?

A Childcare director was once asked by a parent, how to keep children away from things they should not touch. His answer was simple:
"If they shouldn't touch it, it should not be within their reach." 
Self restraint comes later in life, not for toddlers.

Child proofing your home does not make you a paranoid parent or a lazy parent. I have had my grandparents and parents both say, "I didn't child proof my home when you were young and I'm not about to start now!" or "Just teach them not to touch it, smack their hands away, spank them, yell at them, put them in the corner."

How can we allow our babies and toddler to learn about their world by exploring if we constantly tell them no? 

All this backwards thinking only causes a child to feel insecure, scared to examine and experiment. We need researcher, self starters, independent children, not fearful ones. When you hit your child you instill a sense of shame and doubt.

The word DISCIPLINE literally means: to educate; activity, exercise or regimen that develops or improves skills.

We are parents; therefore, we are teachers of children. Take time to educate, train and exercise life skills within your toddlers. That is your job right now. 


How to create independent, self confident children:

your home. In the 2nd year, toddlers are developing the maturation of the muscle system so allowing them to climb, crawl, explore is the best way to help develop healthy muscles. It also allows freedom to choose what to learn about. The Monassori Program believes they best way for a child to learn and the most effective way is to allow them to choose what to do. Dropping the spoon over and over again isn't to drive you crazy, it is actually developing grasping muscles and their sense of autonomy. (self control)

Since we know toddlers naturally are curious, have places in your home designed to explore. Kitchen: cupboard full of plastic containers, wooden spoons, pots, pans, and safe fun objects. 
Living room: box of old remote controls, toys, books.
Laundry room: box with old clean rags to pull out of an old baby wipe container, baskets with play clothes. You get the idea
Extra tip: if you have a child who acts up when your own the phone... create a 'distracta box' filled with new toys and puzzles they don't get to play with. It can sit on top of the fridge and you can let them play it only when you are on the phone.

3. KIND and FIRM
Attitude: Change your perception. Recognize your child's motivation and abilities and calm yourself before reacting. Remember abstract ideas and comments like 'no and be good' are useless in parenting children under 3. Value the process. make time to enjoy the getting there in doing something instead of the outcome. 
Atmosphere: Give your toddler practice time. New life skills can be messy (pouring milk into a cup) Scale down large tasks with small steps and child size tools. I have a small milk pouring container (like those at restaurants) in the fridge that my 3 year old son can pick up and use himself, learning to pour milk with that is much easier than trying it from a 4L milk jug. Encourage thinking skills by asking "what and how" questions. Allow choices and reasonable chances to say no. Avoid power struggles. Give hugs instead of engaging in "yes" and "no" shouting matches.
Action: Follow through by doing what you say you will do. 
PERSONAL EXAMPLE: My 3 year old son was acting up at the playground and my 1 year old was playing nicely. I told my 3 year old if he ran off out of the playground again, we would go home. He did and we went home. I felt bad I had to take my 1 year old home because of my older son, but I had to stick to my word. The next week at the park my son remembered before we go there and said, "I'm going to listen today so we can stay and play." I was floored he even remembered! (7 days later!) 
In hinesight, I think I should have said if you are running off you have to sit in the stroller and watch your brother play for 3 minutes. But my point is that I stuck to my word, even though it was sad for me. 
Teach by doing. Talk less, avoid lectures - act instead. Offer limited choices. Avoid open-ended choices such as "Do you want to go to bed?" They will answer no, then what? Use redirection and distraction as many times as it takes.

Tell them what they can do. "You can't jump on the couch. Would you like to play with your trucks or help me with the dishes?" "It's time for bed. Which story do you want to read after I help you put on your pj's?" I have to talk on the phone, You can play in your phone basket or the pan cupboard while I am on the phone." Give them encouragement on what they do well. Label it so they can get use to hearing the words.
"You are very responsible putting your coat on the hook."
"I like how quiet your voice is at the dinner table, I like talking to you."
"Wow, you said please and thank you, what good manners you have."
Nothing is more important than the connection and relationship you have with your child. Understanding how important it is for your toddler to learn life skills can help parents know that over protection and oppression is not the best way to show love. Hugging your baby when he is angry, sad, frustrated and confused will help him learn empathy and important cool down skills. With touch therapy, love, hugging and kindness your child learns how humans need to interact with each other when things go wrong. 

When you are sad, angry, depressed, upset isn't it wonderful to have someone you really love give you a hug, a rub on the back, a kind hand on your arm. Does it not help heal you immediately and you begin to calm down and reconnect to your inner joy? This connection is the base of what makes us human. Empathy, joy, love, compassion, self assurance... do we not what this in our children. Let's teach by doing.

Good Luck!


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