Parents often find themselves in an internal debate between punishment and discipline, especially if they were raised in a fear-based environment that focused on punishment. Many parents today want to do this differently and raise their children in a more democratic environment. In doing so, the pendulum has swung far to the other side and some parents have given the locus of control over to their children. More on that topic another time.
I thought I would focus today on a very effective discipline strategy for your toddler – IGNORING. What I like most about this strategy is how easy it is. And it’s respectful. Over all I think ignoring is a positive way to discipline toddlers. First a few words about discipline. The goal of discipline is to teach children how to be responsible for themselves and how to cooperate with others. It’s our job to show them a different way to behave. As parents of toddlers you are quite familiar with inappropriate behaviors such as whining, teasing, mild crying, power plays, interrupting, begging for treats, arguing, swearing and temper tantrums. Though these behaviors usually are not dangerous to children or other people, I think we can all agree they can be very annoying and generally occur when we have the least resilience to respond with forethought.
The good news is that these behaviors can often be eliminated if they are systematically ignored. (Please note, if your child is hurting someone or is in danger, you can’t ignore that behavior.)
Steps to Remember:
Avoid eye contact and discussion (and I do mean ALL discussion!) while ignoring.
Physically move away from your child but stay in the room if possible.
Be prepared for testing and she will test.
Be consistent. If you ignore the whining today, ignore it tomorrow as well.
Combine distractions with ignoring.
Return your attention as soon as misbehavior stops.
Give attention to your child’s positive behaviors.
Planning Ahead to Prevent Future Problems
Ask your child at a calmer time if she would like to learn some other ways to handle frustration. Teach her to tell you in words how she feels instead of using an emotional display. Pay attention to ways you may be setting your child up to have a tantrum. Most kids don’t start off with a tantrum. You may be arguing, demanding, controlling, and fighting with her until she throws a tantrum in exasperation. Ask your child what she would like you to do when she is having a tantrum. Do this at a time when you can discuss it calmly. Give choices like, “Would you like a hug, or would you like me to just wait until you’re over it?”
If at any time you feel you need additional support don’t hesitate to contact me – the first phone consultation is free.
Parents, be proactive! Learn how to set appropriate boundaries before the crisis. Gain the confidence to Parent Well … every day!