Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to say ‘no’ to our toddler? There are days that it seems like that is all we say. There are actually two extremes in parents saying ‘no’. There are the parents who are constantly running around after their toddler saying ‘no’, ‘don’t touch’, and ‘will.you.please.stop.that.” and then there are the parents who have arranged their day so well, and their toddler is so comfortable in that routine that they don’t need to say no.
Neither position is healthy. When we say ‘no’ all day, our toddler is never succeeding at anything. We need to manage our day, set a routine in place, so that they have times where they do well. But neither is the never-have-to-say-no position healthy either. If we aren’t saying ‘no’, our toddler isn’t growing and learning. We need to find that balance between them being in a place where they get it, where they can do the right thing and then the flip side of that is where there are times in our day where they are learning something new. Our daily routine needs to have a balance between success and learning.
A few thoughts on giving a ‘no’ or giving correction (We tend to think of correction as a ‘spanking’ or ‘time out’ but correction is simply getting them back on the right track – redirecting where they are heading):
- There will be times that we simply say ‘no’, ‘stop’, ‘don’t’ but most of our correction needs to be instructive as well
- When we say ‘no’ or ‘don’t’ we aren’t giving them any help to do the right thing – we are just stopping them from doing the wrong. So instead of saying ‘don’t spill the milk’ we can say ‘hold your cup with two hands’, instead of saying ‘don’t stand up in the bath’ say ‘sit down in the bath’. Giving positive direction instead of negative correction is fast tracking our instruction – our toddler will know what is right to do instead of what is wrong – this will help them later in life when they need to make decisions for themselves.
- Keep your tone gentle and enthusiastic (yes, even if you are tired and over it!) Such a tone will be encouraging and tells your little one that you are on their side and you want them to succeed.
- Get down to their level and make physical contact. Kneeling down and making eye contact is a powerful thing, and then by adding physical contact (such as holding their hands, or encouraging their eyes to look at you) increases their receptivity. But it also helps you get rid of any frustration and anger towards them so your heart will be more positive as well.
I know it sounds idyllic to have your child obey you all day long – and yes, we want to encourage obedience, but if your toddler is never pushing the limits (in at least one area) then ask yourself – are you teaching him new things? On those days when you dream of a day, when you are not instructing, correcting, reminding or encouraging – remember, that these parental tasks mean that your little one is growing and learning and that is a good thing!
You can see the rest of my Living with a Toddler for 31 days series here.
Or find more 31 day series here.