A toddler bites her friend when he won't share the toy she desires. A baby throws his food on the floor. A preschooler draws on her bedroom wall.
Depending on your own upbringing, many parents might utilize a time out or sharp tap on the hand followed by a stern "No!" or simply resort to distraction to deal with the behaviour.
The last thing we feel like doing is bringing the offending youngster in for a cuddle. Isn't coddling just rewarding the bad behaviour?
Babies, toddlers and young children do not know how to use their words to let us know what they are feeling or needing at any given time. A baby will cry to let us know she needs sustenance. A toddler will hit when she feels misunderstood or needs attention. A preschooler will have a tantrum when she is experiencing so many feelings and unfulfilled needs that she can't control herself.
The behaviour is merely the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface are all the feelings and needs that causing the behaviour.
As the adult, it is our task to provide safe and firm, loving boundaries around our children. We are their teacher, their safe space to make mistakes and learn. When they venture out from us and explore the world they feel confident that we have shown them the way to go forward. And when they need us, we draw them in close to give them what they need. Like a rubber band stretching out and coming back in.
Young children need our loving, calm approach to teach them how to manage their emotions and upsets and how to communicate their needs.
Start today, by lowering the volume and tone of your voice. Get on your child's eye level and let them experience your safe, unconditional soft touch. They messed up. You will help them fix it and learn from their mistake. They will mess up again. You will acknowledge their feelings and needs and provide a firm, consistent boundary for their own and others' safety.
You are not rewarding them.
You are showing them how to grow emotionally and become resilient and independent. Teaching them what is safe and harmful.
You, too, will mess up. Model for them that you can bounce back from your own mistakes and learn from them. Apologise to your young children and allow them to show you the same unconditional love you have demonstrated to them over and over again.
Email Cradle 2 Kindy Parenting Solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org today to learn how we can help you approach your little one's behaviour in a manner that they have a better understanding of themselves, their relationship with you and the world. Let us help you grow amazing people that will do amazing things.