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How to deal with toddlers

Dealing with toddlers requires a lot of patience

Dealing with toddlers requires a lot of patience, imagination and skill because you may have to handle tantrums, curiosity, stubbornness and bad behavior. Check out these ways to deal with your toddler.

Teaching routines: Reaffirm and redirect

For months, you may be trying to help your toddler develop a bed time routine after dinner and bath. But a toddler’s mind is always wandering, s/he is inquisitive and therefore, you need to deal tactfully with them. They never grow out of energy, so when you take them to bed they may ask you to play with them or take them to park. In such conditions, you need to reaffirm and reassure them by saying things like, ‘We will go to park tomorrow,’ or ‘Mama played with you in the evening.’ But at the same time, you need to redirect their activity towards the routine by saying things like, ‘Mama played with you today, now she will play tomorrow if you sleep on time.’ This way you will reassure him and help him develop a habit. Remember, if you fail to answer your child’s questions or demands, then s/he might act obstinately and may not follow a habit. So, instead of saying, ‘We won’t play now and you will have to sleep,’ say something more tactfully.

State things plainly

Toddlers are not like adults, they cannot take other’s viewpoint and they cannot understand right or wrong by themselves. So, never teach them something like, ‘lying is wrong, but in some occasions it can be right!’ Instead, start teaching the values by stating facts that look objective rather than subjective. For instance, ‘Books don’t go to the bathroom,’ or ‘lying is bad.’ Be calm when you tell them these things. And never lie in front of the child. Also, don’t be a hypocrite and do things that you don’t want your child to do. So, if you don’t want your toddler to shout, then you must never shout on him or others, if you don’t want him to take a book to bathroom, then you must forbid yourself from taking books or newspapers to the bathroom! Otherwise, your toddler will ask you a million questions, which you won’t be able to answer.

Foresee and divert tantrums

Always be communicative with your toddlers and take interest in her/his activities. Toddlers who throw tantrums try to seek attention as they tend to have neglecting parents. So, always be approachable. You cannot fulfill all the demands of your toddlers, so you need to use words tactfully so that your toddler understands that her/his demand cannot be fulfilled at a particular moment. If you don’t deal with it, then your toddler might throw a tantrum. If you realize that your toddler is going to throw the tantrum, then you must divert your child before a tantrum erupts. This is easier than calming a tantrum throwing child. You can divert her/him by playing with him or talking to him or by giving him a favorite toy or promising a reward.

Limits and rewards

If you don’t want your toddler to misbehave, then you must set clear limits. For instance, if your child hits someone, then don’t wait till he hits another person and teach him that behaving aggressively is wrong and not acceptable. This way the child will know that a bad act might have a negative consequence. At the same time, reward good behavior of your child. For instance, when a child pushes someone to have a turn, then teach him that its wrong, but when a child asks to have a turn, then appreciate him by saying things like, ‘It is so good that you asked for a turn.’ Rewarding a child doesn’t mean that you have to provide him something material every time s/he performs a good action, it simply means that you appreciate your child, award him stars, cook his favorite dinners or allow him to watch TV for some more time (but limit TV). Remember, toddlers learn through ‘behavior-consequence’ technique. The best way to deal with your toddlers bad actions or misbehavior is to follow a technique of reward and negative consequence. This is a behavioral technique that works well with kids. But never punish a child for a bad behavior. Yelling, screaming or punishing a child will have an opposite effect. For instance, if you are teaching your child that aggression is bad, then you must not yell at him if he displays aggression. To deal with misbehavior, the best idea is to follow a negative consequence technique, like reducing television time if the child is stubborn, cooking something that s/he dislikes, taking away a favorite toy for a period of time etc. This way you can teach your toddler several things without resorting to yelling or hitting.

Use imagination

Toddlers are highly imaginative. That is why they are often day dreaming and have so many questions. So, if you want to deal with your toddler, then the best way to do so will be to act in a creative and imaginative manner. Have role plays with your child, play games like ‘doctor-doctor’ or ‘police-thief’. This way your child will learn several things and his/her imagination will also grow. It may seem weird, but if you are a mother to a girl toddler, then you can play barbie games with her. Help her dressing up the barbie and make imaginative, simple plots. This will help your daughter learn more about female roles and concepts. Follow similar role plays for a boy and play with items like toy cars, constructing stories. Toddlers love to hear bed time stories, so there will be a time when you will run out of all fairy tales. At this moment, you can create your own stories. Make them simple, like some animals in the jungle or about baby who listens to his parents. This way you will impart moral values to the child and will also help her/him to learn more, become imaginative and have a better grasp of the language.

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