Thursday, September 27, 2012

20 Toddlers Tips in well... 20 days ish... 20. Toddler Tips

Toddler Tips

So today is the 20th tip for my Twenty Toddler Tips in Twenty Days. I certainly had no idea that it would be as hard as it was to keep up the 20 day tips. I did have a few bumps here and there and I went over my 20 days, missed a day here and there, and I got all 20 tips in, eventually. I have to say I am proud of myself for finishing my mini project in spite of my hiccups. 

I think it is important to celebrate our efforts and not just the end results. I am glad I finished my tips and didn't just give up when I realized I had a day or so lost. At times I was thinking, "who's listening, it doesn't matter, why bother, should I continue?"  But I realized it was important to continue and finish. It may not have looked exactly like I wanted it to, or finish perfectly on time, but that didn't matter anymore. What mattered was how I felt about myself.

We need to make sure we don't put any kind of pressure on our children as we often do to ourselves. As parents we want the clean house, dinner on the table on time, happy, clean kids, perfect relationships, great work life etc... That's isn't going to happen all the time and consistently .. that isn't real life. A real balanced life, means we give it a shot. One day we are better house cleaners, or better parents, or great at are jobs, the next maybe not so much. Each section of our life deserves the best shot, but don't kill yourself trying to make life perfect. Appreciate what you can do.

Teach our children this by allowing them to learn, grow and show us a thing or two in their own time and their own way. There is no right or wrong way to live this life. There is only two choices really, choose unhappy or choose happy. I choose to be happy. Be appreciative of what you do have and look into the future with hope, anticipation and joy. Live a joyful life.

Here are your toddler review tips:

Toddlers are often eager to show their independence, and may not be able to move as swiftly as they'd like or effectively communicate their needs. This can lead to tantrums and misbehavior. Teach your toddler to behave well by providing love, attention, praise, encouragement and a degree of routine.

1. Accept your Child

As your child grows, he or she will display certain temperaments.  Some of these are learned, others genetic. Respect your child's developing individuality. Find your toddlers strengths and help her or him build skills. Choose toys and educational development based on what they are interested in, not what you want them to be or do. People learn faster and keep information longer when they are learning something at their interest level and it is fun. Find your child's interests. Avoid labeling your child's behaviour (especially challenging behaviour) Toddlers become the people you tell them they are. Tell them they are capable, loving, kind, smart people. If they misbehave say something like, "You hit him, that's not like you, your hands are for helping, not hitting. I know you can be gentle." Nurture your child's personality and find ways to help her or him feel confident.

2. Show Your Love

Positive attention will help make your child WANT to do well. Make sure your displays of affection for your child outnumber any consequences or punishments. 4 to 1 is a great rule; for every consequence you'll need 4 positive reinforcements.  Hugs, kisses and good-nature roughhousing reassure your child of your love. Frequent praise and attention will motivate your toddler to follow the rules. Make sure the praise is not false praise, tell them what they did well. Remember children will do well if they can. Help them to feel your love as often as possible.

3. Freedom in Rules

Don't overwhelm your toddlers with too many rules, instead prioritize those geared toward safety first. Other rules can be implemented and changed based on the family dynamic at the time. Help your toddler follow the rules by childproofing your home and eliminating as many temptations. If hitting is the problem, rules around 'hands are for helping' will suffice. Maybe the next month is about lying. Rules can help children learn, but we must tell them what they CAN do, when and how to do it. They learn most by observing. If we are yelling and stomping, they will learn this is appropriate behaviour. A chart of 5 house rules on the wall will help keep everyone aware of what is expected. Such as, "1. Gentle Hands 2. Inside Voices 3. Food stays on the plate 4. Walking for inside, running for outside" and so on. Pictures help younger children with understanding.

It's normal for a toddler to have temper tantrums. But you may be able to reduce the frequency, duration or intensity of your child's tantrums.

4. Child's Limits (your own as well)

Your child may misbehave because he or she doesn't understand or can't do what you're asking. Explain how to follow the rules. Instead of saying, "Stop hitting," offer suggestions for how to make play go more smoothly, such as "Why don't you two take turns?"
Take 'no' in stride. Don't overreact when your toddler says no. Instead, calmly repeat your request. Don't pose a question that can have an answer as no.

5. Avoid Power Struggles

Only say no when it's absolutely necessary. Don't engage in power struggles. It takes 2 people to power struggle, one of you has to be the adult.

6. Offer Choices

When possible. Encourage your child's independence by letting him or her pick out a pair of pajamas or a bedtime story. "You can either sit in the stroller or hold my hand when we walk across the street, you chose."

7. Avoid Triggers

Avoid situations that may trigger frustration or tantrums. If your child always seems to have tantrums at the grocery store, hire a sitter the next time you go shopping. Also, know that children are more likely to act out when they're tired, hungry, sick or in an unfamiliar setting. Bring snacks, toys or bubbles to the store, make a plan, talk about what will happen, keep the timing short. 

8. Distract

Make it fun. Distract your child or make a game out of good behavior. Your child will be more likely to do what you want if you make an activity fun. Be silly.

9. Schedules

Stick to the schedule. Keep a daily routine as much as possible so that your child will know what to expect. Picture routines are best with little ones, let them chose activities  Make the chart have Velcro so you can change up your day if you need to.

10. Communicate

Encourage good communication. Remind your child to use words to express his or her feelings. If your child isn't speaking yet, consider teaching him or her baby sign language. (I am a huge fan of this one, as you can imagine!) We have a feelings class where we practice and teach the signs for HAPPY, SAD, ANGRY and more.

11. Tantrums

If your child has a tantrum, remain calm and distract him or her. Ignore minor displays of anger, such as crying — but if your child hits, kicks or screams for a prolonged period, remove him or her from the situation. Hold your child or give him or her time alone to cool down. Walk out to the car and calm down with your child. Ask them when they feel ready to go inside and try again. 

12. Timing

TAKE MORE time with every errand. They are learning, allow for learning time. Leave the house 30 min before you think you need to. Begin bedtime routines earlier and so forth.

13. Enforce Consequences

Natural consequences. Let your child see the consequences of his or her actions — as long as they're not dangerous. If your child throws and breaks a toy, he or she won't have the toy to play with anymore.
If it is raining outside, bring the jacket for the car, let them get cold and wet. Ask them how they feel? Did they think they needed something to keep them warm? Logical consequences. Create a consequence for your child's actions. Tell your child if he or she doesn't pick up his or her toys, you will take the toys away for a day. Help your child with the task, if necessary. If your child doesn't cooperate, follow through with the consequence. Whatever consequences you choose, be consistent. Make sure that every adult who cares for your child observes the same rules and discipline guidelines. This reduces your child's confusion and need to test you. 

14. Withhold privileges

For older children...Withholding privileges. If your child doesn't behave, respond by taking away something that your child values — such as a favorite toy — or something that's related to his or her misbehavior. Don't take away something your child needs, such as a meal.

15. Time Outs

Age appropriate timeout. (The age of reason is approximatly 3 - 5 years old) When your child acts out, give a warning. If the poor behavior continues, guide your child to a designated timeout spot — ideally a quiet place with no distractions. Enforce the timeout for one minute for every year of your child's age. If your child resists, bring back to the timeout spot again and again and again and again. This is your job right now. Your a parent first.
Make sure your child knows why he or she is in the timeout. Afterward, guide your child to a positive activity. If all else fails, tell your child that you are taking a timeout away from him or her for a few minutes because of a specific behavior. Be sure to explain the behavior you'd like to see. Encourage the behaviour your are working on. Label it! Say stuff like, "wow, your responsible when you take your shoes off at the door, great job!"

16. Criticism

Be careful to criticize your child's behavior — not your child. Instead of saying, "You're a bad boy," try, "Don't run into the street." "Hands are not for hitting, hands are for helping." Never resort to punishments that emotionally or physically harm your child. Spanking, slapping and screaming at a child do more harm than good. Hitting a small child, teaches them when you are big, you can hit others.

17. Emotional Support

Remember sometimes just a hug, a walk to a different room or going outside can change everyone's mind and focus. Take a breather together. 

Begin each day like this... say to your toddler, 
"Today is a new day with new experiences, we don't know what is to come, it's so exciting. I can't wait to be with you today and learn together." 

End each night like this, "I love you so much, no matter what, there is no condition on this love, remember you are a good person, with a kind heart, tomorrow will be another adventure." 

Your children want to be with you, want to do well for you, want to make you proud and want to be loved. That is all.

You are their everyday teacher. Children learn how to act by watching their parents. The best way to show your child how to behave is to set a positive example for him or her to follow. Love them and be firm, kind and have fun.

Happy Parenting!

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