“No, no!.. I said NO!”
There’s nothing quite as trying than a toddler testing their boundaries. Limit pushing can confound even the most attuned parent.
Why would our sweet darlings throw their toys at us and deliver a good sucker punch when we’ve just asked them not to and then add insult to injury by smirking? How do we deal with it without becoming frustrated?
The key to managing any behaviour is understanding the root behind it. Remember that every behaviour has a purpose.The reason behind a behaviour can be 3 fold.
1). At this age, toddlers have poor impulse control and little understanding of what is right and wrong. Their behaviour is a way of exploring their own abilities; “what can I get away with, what can I do that will get a rise out of mum, if I throw a tantrum it seems I get her attention”
2.) “No, let me. I do”. Many toddlers try to assert their independence which is great but can sometimes mean taking the long way around tasks. Remember that practicing independence (in tasks safe to do so of-course) is important in developing self assured, confident children. So it’s all about patience with this one.
3.) Tantrums and defiance can also stem from your child’s inability to communicate their feelings or emotions to you effectively. “SOS, mum. I’m tired and hungry. There’s too much noise! You haven’t given me attention all day. I want to leave this place”. Encourage them to express their feelings and acknowledge them. “You’ve hit John. I don’t want you to hit. I think you’re letting me know you’re tired and ready to leave, right?”
Once you’ve established the reason behind any behaviour, you’re able to respond more appropriately. Here are 2 behavioral management techniques for limit pushing behaviours from an OT perspective;
REINFORCEMENT; This refers to ways that increase the likelihood of good behaviours being repeated. There are 2 types of reinforcement;
A)Positive reinforcement; here, focus is placed on rewarding positive behaviours. Knowing your child’s motivators is important with this technique. Sticker charts, a sweet treat or screen time are some ways to reward good behaviour.
B) Negative reinforcement; focus is placed on removing a negative consequence with positive behaviour. E.g. removing restrictions when your little one has followed the rules.
PUNISHMENT; these refer to ways that decrease the likelihood of bad behaviours being repeated. There are 2 types of punishments;
A)Positive punishment; this means adding a negative consequence to reduce your child from repeating that behaviour. E.g. spanking or scolding
B) Negative punishment; this means taking away something from the child in order to stop the behaviour. E.g. naughty corner, taking away their favourite toy when they have behaved in an undesirable way, removing your attention form the behaviour and ignoring it completely..
Disciplining a toddler is a thankless, frustrating and overall trying task. It requires patience and there are no short cuts. Remain consistent with whatever approach you take and always stick to what you say. You can do this mamma 💙