It’s the moment parents know all too well: the moment where the energy in your house totally shifts. It’s a moment all parents are familiar with: the moment when the vibe in your home completely changes.
All was well until you dressed your toddler in the pink dress she absolutely adored yesterday but apparently not this morning. Somehow, your toddler as you knew them suddenly changed overnight. “I want my milk warm, not cold!” or “I want the cup with the lion, not the baby shark.”
With every little tantrum and seemingly unreasonable request, your frustrations escalate and you lose it and start yelling back at your toddler except, instead of correcting your toddler’s behaviour, it only makes it worse.
These 5 positive parenting techniques will help you see misbehaviour in a new light and get you started on making a noticeable impact in your home.
1. Find the underlying issue
Positive parenting gurus all agree on one thing: there is always an underlying issue behind a child’s misbehaviour. The challenge for parents is to find out what is. It would be great if children could just say, “Mommy, please can I have some time where your attention is solely dedicated to me?” But this is asking alot of a toddler and until they don’t know any better, throwing a tantrum is the best way to get our attention. Once you’ve pinpointed the underlying issue, you can become a more proactive parent and nip the outbursts in the bud.
2. Consistency is key
While parents recognize the significance of routine, life happens. Even though we aren’t always in control of this, it’s essential to follow a routine and keep expectations similar in your home as much as you can.
PRO TIP: Sticking to the weekday routine even on weekends and holidays is a great way to avoid the Monday morning slump! When parents enforce the rules and consequences consistently, children are considerably less prone to test the boundaries.
3. Do Not Offer Incentives For Good Behaviour
This will come as a surprise to many but Positive Parenting does not support offering incentivising good behaviour. While incentives sound positive, the reality is that they take you one step forward and three steps back and can lead to children developing a big sense of entitlement. As is with everything related to developing your child, always think long-term. Incentives don’t work because they’re a temporary solution to a potentially bigger problem.
Consider this: You may have given your child a cookie today for good behaviour at the shops but that only creates the expectation for a cookie next time or every other time they behave well. Will you be rewarded in the same way at your next doctor’s appointment or trip to the mall? *Googles: How many cookies can a toddler eat before getting sick?* Exactly. It’s not sustainable.
Encouraging good behaviour with the use of incentives as a negotiating tool can lead to an entitlement mentality. Furthermore, studies show that incentives can make children lose interest in the activity that they are rewarded for.
4. Manage your own emotions and reactions first
Reminding yourself that there is always an underlying issue in the midst of a battle is easier said than done but if you remember this you will be able to respond correctly. When parents acknowledge that they can’t always predict or control their child’s behaviour but they do have control over their own reactions, they gain emotional freedom.
So, rather than intimidating, bribing, or shaming children into good decision making, parents should strive to look at their child through a different lense. Instead of viewing him as a naughty child, consider him a little person who has simply not been provided with or developed the necessary tools to behave in specific settings. This will benefit parents.
We can manage our reactions by deciding and planning what we’re willing to do. When you preempt a situation, communicate your expectations and plan your appropriate responses in advance, you will find your reactions to be a lot more constructive when the time comes.
5. Discipline Over Punishment
Prioritising discipline over punishment is one of the most significant differences between positive parenting and other parenting methods. Disciplining is training by instruction and exercise and punishment inflicting a penalty for an offence. By not using blame, guilt or physical, emotional pain, we entrust and enable and empower our children to be capable young adults. When contemplating an appropriate response to an infraction – as with incentives – consider the long term.
Parenting is undoubtedly challenging. However, with the correct tools for both parent and child, parents can become what the best parent looks like to them and for their child. Love L’il Masters.