The Secrets To Raising A Well-Behaved Toddler

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Want a calm and cooperative child? This is what you need to do

Do you dream of being the mum whose toddler doesn’t have a tantrum when it’s time to leave the playground? Do you wish she could be reasonable when you suggest that one biscuit is enough? And do you hope that she doesn’t throw a wobbly in the supermarket? Then read on… Employ these nine parenting secrets and you’ll diffuse much of your toddler’s negative behaviour and encourage her to be calmer and more cooperative.

Many parents feel indulging their little one’s moans and groans will lead to more of the same attention-seeking behaviour. When your child takes a not-so-serious tumble and cries seemingly unnecessarily, do you react by saying ‘You’re okay, stop crying’? If she’s whining because someone has taken the toy she was playing with, do you soothe, ‘Oh, it’s not that bad’?

Parenting experts suggest taking a different approach of tuning in to your child’s feelings. “This problem is real to your child. So empathis with her. Say ‘Oh dear, I suspect that hurts’, or ‘You seem frustrated someone else is playing with that toy’,” Carole says.
If your child is very young, she suggests you use sympathetic facial expressions.

Around the age of two, children want to have some control in their lives. At this stage your commands seem like a red rag to a bull. “If she doesn’t get what she wants, she screams, which normally gets a reaction, and wrenches control from the parent. To avoid this, replace a command with two limited choices, both of which you find acceptable. So you might say: ‘I have cereal or porridge, which would you like?’ or ‘Would you like to wear your red or blue dress?’ Giving choices might feel like hard work, but in the long term it will save hours of
tantrums. “Give her these limited choices all the time, and your child will feel that she has a voice and an element of control “And there’s anadded benefit that she’ll know how to make a decision.”

34 is the average number of commands toddlers receive per hour.
This rises to 80 in more challenging households.

Children need boundaries to behave well, so it’s important to set them. They need to
know what’s expected and how to stay
safe. Nadim says there are ways to get
your child to respect these boundaries. For
example, most parents use the words ‘no’,
‘can’t’ and ‘mustn’t’, which immediately
raise a toddler’s hackles – and her curiosity.
Saying ‘No, don’t go near the road!’ just
makes it more tempting. Instead, Nadim
says you should give a clear explanation
instead: “Roads are for cars, not people.
Paths are for people so we stay safe.”
Putting a positive spin on it in this
way removes opposition. “If your toddler
asks for an ice-cream half an hour before
dinner, don’t say ‘No, it’s nearly dinner
time’, say ‘Yes, you can have an
ice-cream, but after we’ve had dinner’.

There will be times when your toddler wants something now, and won’t take
no for an answer. It’s easy to get sucked into
providing a long explanation about why
she can’t have or do what she wants when
she wants. “It often leads to whining, tears
and anger, as well as you potentially giving
in to her demands because you’re worn
out and don’t know what to do,” she
warns. “Your tot has ‘won’ and this sets
you up to fail next time.”
Equally, ignoring her will frustrate her,
and escalate her behaviour. Instead,
employ a short sentence or word like:
‘I know’ or ‘Mmm’ and repeat it regularly
as she grumbles. Carole says this prevents
you from being drawn into an argument
and helps you to stand fi rm, while your
tot still feels she’s being listened to. “Next
time you use that same short sentence,
a toddler will quickly understand those
words are not worth fi ghting,” says Carole.

Consequences are more effective than punishments, but they must be logical, related to the deed and reasonable, so you are always able to carry them out. Always explain the consequence in terms that your toddler can understand so he can make a choice. “For example, if your toddler gets down from the table
mid-meal, try saying ‘Children who want
to eat sit at the table’. If she doesn’t
return, say empathetically without any sign
of anger, ‘You seem to have fi nished your
meal so I am removing the plate’ – that’s
the consequence of her action,” Carole
advises. Consistency is the key factor – if you offer the same consequence every time your toddler gets down from the table, she will soon learn that if she wants
to eat, she must stay in her seat.

To raise a well-behaved toddler, it’s
important you realise and accept that while
you can infl uence her, you can’t control
her. Nadim stresses you can’t physically
make your child tidy her toys or stop
throwing her food on the fl oor. “No
amount of threats will change that.”
But you can encourage her to make
good choices by talking about you. “Adopt
‘I’ statements, such as ‘I take children who
have tidy toys to play on the swings’ or
‘I like to play dolls with little girls who
eat their lunch nicely’,” Nadim suggests.
Because ‘I’ statements are not about
your child – but about what you are
or aren’t willing to do – your child is less
likely to oppose them.

8 is the average number of times a month parents argue over their children- mainly over how to discipline them.

Telling a child ‘You’ll be cold if you don’t put your coat on’ or ‘You’ll be hungry later if you don’t eat that’ doesn’t work. To understand a consequence, an unwilling toddler sometimes needs to fi nd out for herself and learn from the experience.
“We were going out one cold day and my three-year-old refused to wear socks,”. “Had I forced her to put socks on she’d have had a tantrum. So we went without the socks and she was cold and miserable. Had I said ‘I told you
so’ she’d have blamed me. So instead I empathised: ‘It’s a shame you’re cold.’ The next day she was happy to wear socks.”

A toddler wants and needs to be
independent. So let her carry her plate
to the sink after dinner, even though you
know her fork will clatter to the fl oor.
“Don’t criticise, just involve her in clearing
up,” Nadim says. “She needs to know
things don’t always go perfectly, and learn to deal with them when they don’t.”

Be aware that your toddler is constantly learning behaviour from you. So teach her that it’s rude to ignore someone by always looking at and engaging with your child when she talks to you. Don’t worry when your behaviour isn’t perfect. “It’s unrealistic to expect she’ll never see you have a cross word with anyone, but it’s important that if she sees you arguing with someone, that she sees you resolve it,”.  That way, she’ll learn how to behave properly in a disagreement.

If you lose your temper with your toddler, explain that you’re sorry you shouted. Admitting you’ve done something wrong shows her it’s important she owns up and says sorry when she’s made a mistake,

5.08 Is cited as the worst time of day to be a parent by mums and dads.


Children behave better when there’s a predictable order to their days, so involve your child in creating that routine.
Taking pictures of her brushing her teeth, eating breakfast and getting dressed, and then put them on a board in order. “Ask your child to point to what comes next each morning, She’ll love that feeling of control and it means she’ll get on with the task.” Involving your child in daily life will help avoid bad behaviour. Supermarkets aren’t fun for a toddler, so add items to a list for her to find,.  It gives them a feeling of importance, something to focus on and teaches your child to be helpful.

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