Tuesday 2 November 2010


Discipline for Toddlers (12-24 months)

As J develops intellectually, there are also more challenges in the discipline front, and it is becoming more urgent than before. Thus I have made the summary below from my reading, which I will try to put into practice for the next few months during this challenging period of parenting:

Chapter 6: Conflict, Training & Correction

• If a child is put on the right track at first and encouraged to remain there until he becomes accustomed to it or learns that it is best, he is less likely to drift to the wrong track later.

• Guiding a child means proactively encourage positive behaviours, redirecting unwanted behaviours and correcting inappropriate behaviours. That is why the foundations of all behaviour, acceptable or unacceptable, are laid early in life. In this way, inner growth, self-control and the habits of the heart are formed.

• Parents must be proactive in directing and redirecting process. It is a great error to sit back and let your toddler direct his own show. He needs direction and correction – both are demonstration of love.

• The fact that a child has no moral understanding why taking a toy from his sister is wrong, doesn’t mean parents should sit back and wait until his moral intellect catches up with moral actions.

• When it comes to training, more is caught than taught, which means your example forms lasting impressions.

Section 4: Age-appropriate forms of correction
Chapter 10: Preventive Side of Correction

• The best form of correction is prevention.

6 Methods of Preventive Correction:
There are 6 Methods of preventive correction as follows::

1. Set a good example. If you want him to say "please" and "thank you", be sure to use those terms with him and others.

2. Praise good behaviour. Tell your child when you like how he's behaving, rather than speaking up only when he's doing something wrong. It's nap time, a potential battle zone with your sometimes resistant toddler. Head it off by praising even small steps: "It's so great that you stopped playing with your blocks when I asked you to. That means we have extra time and can read a story. If you lie down right away, we'll have even more time and can read two stories." Keep praising each improvement he makes in his nap time routine, and make it worth his while with rewards such as stories or songs. Praise good behaviour "Thanks for sharing that toy with Daniel". "Wow, you brought your cup after meal to the kitchen!"

3. Give simple instruction. All training begins with parental instruction. Don’t say, “J, please pick up your toys and put them away”. Say, “J, please pick up your trucks”. In this way, your instructions are not asking the child to do something that is potentially overwhelming.

o Tell him what you want rather than what you don't. For instance, say "Touch the kitty gently," instead of "Don't hit the kitty!" Or, "Please sit down," instead of "Don't stand up in your chair."o Give instructions, not suggestions. Leaving the playground or not, coming to the high chair for dinner or wearing shoes is not an option. Don't say, "J, shall we leave the playground now?". Say, "J, we are leaving the playground now. Let's pack up."

o Require eye contact. Begin between 12 – 14 months. This will help your child focus on your instructions and better process them. Gently take your child’s face in your face and directing it toward you, accompanied by the statement “Look at mommy’s face, J”. Do not give instructions without first getting his attention.

o Use your child’s name. Make it a point to speak to your pre-toddler using his name. Preempt your instructions with your child’s name. “J, place your hands on the side of the highchair please” or “J, do not drop your food” or “J, come to Mommy”. Because children are by nature “me” oriented, putting their name before your instruction draws attention to the specific task you want to accomplish. By calling his name while giving your instruction, you are helping him focus.

o Call his name, then pause. Require a “Yes mommy” after you give instructions by 16 – 18 months. As your toddler approaches 20 months, start with the child’s name, followed by a pause. Pause, pause, pause, pause! Do not go any further with your instruction without first receiving from your child a verbal response, such as “Mommy” or “Yes Mommy” and eventually “Yes Mommy, I’m coming”, depending on his language development.

o Expect a response. When you speak to your child in a way that requires a response, you should expect a response (from 2 years old – 60% of the time as the goal, 3 years old 70%, 5 years old 85-90%). Start with 60% and gradually work it up. Directive (telling a child what to do) req. a response, and that response is trainable. Initially, it might just be a head nod, but it is the start of a wonderful habit of the heart. Only after you receive the child’s response will you proceed with your instruction. When J tries to unbuckle himself from the pram, you would say, “No J, mommy will unbuckle you. “Say yes mommy”.

o Consistency – when you draw the line, stay with it. The child knows what is expected and what is off-limits.

4. Substitute, don’t suppress. With substitution, an equally desirable experience is offered similar to the original one that caught your pre-toddler’s curiosity. Instead of trying to stop or suppress the novelty of playing in the dog’s water, substitute something in its place such as putting a similar bowl of water in a mother-friendly location such as the laundry floor and let the child have at it. Do this just before bath time or a diaper change when getting wet is not an issue. This should take only a few minutes and the novelty is lost and the child is no longer attracted to the dog’s water dish. Instead of the toilet lid, give the child a small bucket with lid that he can play with.

5. Re-direct. Re-direct your child to his own drawer, so that he will leave the other drawers alone.

6. Assign responsibility. Involve your toddler in daily tasks. Giving your toddler a "job" to do can defuse some of the most common tantrum-provoking situations. For example, when your child refuses to get into his car seat, make him "boss of the seatbelts" — he has to make sure everyone in the car was buckled in before the driver could start the car. The battle over the car seat was over.

When your child wriggles to get out of the cart at the supermarket, hold up a box of item you are purchasing and say: "I need to get food for us to eat, and I need you to help me." Then hand it to him and let him drop it behind him into the cart. You can also ask him to be your "lookout" and help you spot certain favorite foods on the shelf.

Chapter 11: How to Pull Weeds – Corrective Side of Discipline

• Just like in gardening, the weeding process in parenting is called correction. Weed pulling is a gradual process that will take years to accomplish.

• Between 14 – 40 months, a child’s intellect matures sufficiently to allow meaningful interaction with adults and other children.

• There will be MANY times when your pre-toddler will reject or strongly oppose your instructions, but train you MUST.

4 Types of Instructions:

There are 4 types of instructions:

1. Stop
2. No
3. Do not touch
4. Do not move

• To bring meaning, "Stop must mean stop, "No" must mean no, "Do not touch" must mean do not touch and "Do not move" must mean do not move. Attempting to reason with a pre-toddler or toddler is not commendable. Lead, direct and guide him in the confidence of your wisdom.

8 Methods of Correction:

There are 8 methods of correction (but each method should be used with abundance of graciousness and love) as follows:

1. Verbal correction – Make eye contact and speak respectively in a firm and calm tone. Yelling at your child is not correcting him. He is more likely than not even listening to what you are saying because of fear.

2. Validate his feelings - Your toddler yanks a truck out of his friend's hands. Instead of plopping him down in a time-out or trying to explain why what he did was wrong — both strategies that assume your child's more sophisticated than he is — take a few minutes to echo what he seems to be thinking and feeling back to him: "You want the truck."

Validating your child's feelings will help him settle down, and once he's calm enough to listen, you can deliver your discipline message. But again, give him the stripped-down version: "No grab, no grab, it's Max's turn." Note: This may feel silly at first, but it will work.

If he refuses and has another tantrum, the cycle repeats itself. But wait longer for him to settle down this time, and make sure he knows you mean business. Then back to the cars you go.

For toddlers closer to 2 years old, for example, your child throws toys on floor. Gently removes toy from child's hand and says, "You felt upset when I told you that it was almost naptime. But we don't throw toys, even when we're mad. Instead, would you like to draw a picture about how mad you are?"

3. Redirecting – Redirect a child’s attention from what he is going, which might be wrong, dangerous or unwise, to a new activity.

4. Isolation & time-out – remove the child from an act or place of conflict to the crib, playpen or highchair rolled to a quiet place. With screaming fits and temper tantrums, isolate the child to his crib or bed. He may get out of isolation when he is calm and happy. Pick J up and isolate him after the first or second warning. Do not wait and get into a power struggle. If he is disruptive in his play group, isolate him in another room.

4. Losing the privilege - The child that drops his toys on the outside of his playpen will learn soon enough that they do not come back. For example, if J refuses to clean up after playing or bangs very loudly on the electronic piano, tell him that you are going to put the toy away for a few days so that he loses the privilege of playing with the toy for a while.

5. Natural consequences – When mom gives a stop command only to observe the 18 months old continuing on a collision course with the wall, the natural pain of disobedience is your child’s tutor in the moment. You will tend to use natural consequences as your child moves closer to 2 years of age than in the earlier phase.

J's running around in a dirty diaper, but he refuses to stop and let you change it. Start by asking if he wants her diaper changed, and if he says no, say okay and let it go for a while. Wait five minutes and ask again, and if you get another no, wait again.

Usually by the third time you ask, discomfort will have set in and you'll get a yes. And knowing that saying no carries some weight will stop your child from saying it automatically. The more you respect their no, the less often they use it.

6. Corrective action - J made a mess under his highchair. When he's finished eating, lift him up, set him on the floor, and ask him to hand you some peas so he's "helping" you take care of it. Talk to him about what you're doing: "Okay, we made a mess with the peas so we have to clean it up." Your toddler didn't want to get dressed and threw a fit, hurling toy cars around the room. Once he's stable, take him back to the toy cars and calmly but firmly tell him it's time to pick them up. If the task seems too daunting, split it up. Point to one pile of cars and say, "You pick up these cars and I'll pick up the ones over there." Stay there until your toddler has finished her portion of the job.

7. Discomfort - a squeeze on the hand, a swat for wiggling on the changing table, when accompanied by verbal correction acts as a deterrent to wrong and health-threatening behaviours.

8. Nap – Temper tantrums, for example, are often the result of an over-stimulated child in need of sleep. The action of the tantrum should be considered secondary to the real problem. IT is not discipline that the child needs, but rest. Have you ever seen a well-rested child throw a temper tantrum? How much extra activity is going on in his little life outside the home?

3 Golden Rules:

1. Consistency – the child who is corrected consistently when he fails to obey is better adjusted than the child whose discipline is inconsistent or incomplete.

2. Utilize 4 corrective strategies:

  • Add a hand clap to bring attention to your “No”.
  • Use the “Stop” sign to get your child’s attention.
  • Use a swat on the hand to get your child’s attention.
3. Do not make his play world too big. If your son develops a fondness for the toilet seat, shut the door and keep it closed (or give him a bucket with lid). Just allow your pre-toddler in the living-room and kitchen.

- Pre-Toddlerwise, Section 4, Chapter 10 & 11

- Toddlerwise, Chapter 6

- http://www.babycenter.com/404_should-i-discipline-my-baby_6884.bc

- http://www.babycenter.com/0_the-discipline-tool-kit-successful-strategies-for-every-age_1475318.bc

- http://www.babycenter.com/big-story-your-discipline-style?showAll=true

- http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/discipline.html#

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