As parents, we know at times it seems your child or children's unruly behavior is out of control. Bossiness, whining, tantrums...Of course, it comes with the territory of parenting toddlers, and forunately, most kids grow out of these behaviors as they mature. Nonetheless, it is still a challenge which can often lead to both the parent and child becoming needlessly frustrated. So how does one effectively manage a situation that seems unmanageable?
At St. Luke's, we use a patient and loving approach to unwanted behavior. We have to understand that children, especially young toddlers, don't necessarily know their actions or behaviors are inappropriate. Yelling and screaming are often ineffective ways to teach a child. Bossing them back simply reinforces and justifies their own behavior. Many times, your child will look to you before he or she reacts. Even after the child reacts, they will look to you to respond to their reaction. Remaining calm can help alleviate some of the child's frustration or anger. Speaking gently to them may help in soothing their feelings. It is important to remember that you approach the child and get down to his or her level when speaking to them, so that they understand that you are addressing them and their needs and not simply brushing them off.
Another effective method we use is removing a child from the situation. This takes them out of the environment and gives them a moment of pause. Their attention can be redirected at this point toward something else, which can help them to forget why they were upset in the first place. At home, parents may take this one step further and, once the child is calm, discuss the child's feelings and appropriate reactions. You may try some role playing. Ask your child to pretend as if they were the person in the other shoes, and you pretend to be your child, demonstrating their own misbehavior. Ask them questions about how they think the other person felt and how else your child may have acted in that situation. If they are unsure, provide positive examples and then role play again with both you and your child trying out the new behaviors.
Remember that your child is learning and soaking up everything they see. Many of these behaviors may be things they've learned from others, including family members. How you choose to address these trying moments will shape the way your child behaves in the future. All children are different, and what works for some will not work for others. The key, however, is to use these moments as opportunities for teaching rather than punishment. Your child will develop much more valuable methods of problem solving and be better equipped to manage their feelings as they get older.
How are some ways you address poor behavior? Let us know!