Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Parenting techniques

Every parent has their own way to parent. However, there are some techniques out there that can benefit from understanding. My background is in Early Childhood Education (fancy name for teacher from ages birth to 3rd grade). I thought I would share some real life experiences and how I deal with my toddler.

A few things you should know:

  • My daughter is 2 years old.
  • My daughter's temperament is Easy. I will add she is highly active and curious about everything.
  • I do not believe in spanking. It is a fear tactic and causes confusion.
  • I believe in choices.
  • Every situation and every child is different.

1. Not going to sleep at night. We had a big transition at the end of July -- the pacifiers were taken away. I had Elmo leave a note saying he took them for the babies. Two weeks were tough, but the third week was the hardest. We had to start all over again. She wouldn't let us leave the room and it would take up to two hours to put her sleep. Then she would wake up in the middle of the night and it took hours to get her back to sleep. During that third week we had to transition to the toddler bed for safety reasons. I used the Supper Nanny sleep technique along with what I knew would work for my daughter. It took about three weeks before we got back to almost normal (or at least normal for us). The key is consistency and patience.

2. Meltdown in the store. If she is walking with one of us and a meltdown is starting to appear (we try to catch before it starts), we will give her a choice. You can either walk and hold hand or sit in the cart. If she chooses holding hand and walking, we remind her if she can't do that she'll have to go in the cart.

The key when giving a child choices is that both choices need to be favorable for you and the child and never should be a threat. Example, saying you can walk or we are leaving is not a favorable choice because you need to finish your shopping. Often I've heard teachers use the the finish your work or you stay in for recess -- that's actually not favorable for either the teacher or the child and is a threat. Better choice would you can finish your work now or you can choose what free time activity you want to miss today. Now, if you start this technique of giving choices early on it will be easy to carry on as the child gets older. If you start when the child is 5 years old, you will need to be very consistent with it and be patient for it to work. It will be a rewire of behavior and that takes some time. You can start simple by giving two choices for breakfast -- cereal or oatmeal. This is an easy way for you to practice giving choices, too.

Oh, and if we get a full-blown meltdown I can usually calm her down with a song or asking her to show me her emotions -- happy, sad, silly, angry. I've done that since we started shopping together so she knows that it helps her.

3. Pushing away from the table and causing a dangerous situation. Our daughter sits in a booster chair and ever since she started she will push the table with her feet when she's done. She would make us so angry when she did this because her chair would tip back and she could really get hurt. I knew she was just doing it to get attention -- I could see that on her face. In the last week, it was getting worse. It took us a while to figure out how to resolve this one. We told her that when she finishes she needs to use her words all done. And then we remind her that if Mommy or Daddy are still eating she needs to wait. Didn't work. A few months ago, when she started sitting at the table I had bought some placemats ($1 at Walmart). I used those as a transition to give her something to look at and to get adjusted to sitting at the big table. So, I tried the placemats. I put one in her spot last week and after she kicked the table we told her to use her words and say all done. Then we showed her how to move her plate (or she can ask Daddy to help) and to look at the placemat after she finishes. This week I let her pick a new placemat. It's been about 4 or 5 days since she's kicked the table. This was a correcting behavior technique. Again it takes patience and time, but I believe showing a child what they can do is better than just telling them what they can't do.

4. Touching things that shouldn't be touched. If it's something breakable, we simply say that's for your eyes to look at only. We've said that since she was itty-bitty. And that works great. Tells her that her eyes can do something and she know her hands shouldn't touch. If it's something dangerous, we simply say that's dangerous and ask her to find something that is safe or that her hands can touch.

I realize these scenarios are simplified and don't give the whole picture, but I hope it can give you an idea or suggestion in helping teach your child proper behavior.

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