As soon as my little boy turned two it was as if his new found ability in movement and language was at odds with his inability to control his feelings and behaviour. When I first came face to face with these situations I definitely expected more than was reasonable from my toddler. Why? Because I thought since he was walking and talking and generally becoming more independent he would be able to better control his emotions and self control. What I learnt later was that areas of the brain to do with attention and resolving conflict take more time to develop. So how could I help him along the way…?
tips for teaching self control to toddlers
Throughout these testing times I try to be consistent and stick to any family rules which helps in teaching toddlers self control. When the rules keep changing everything starts to get confusing and I find myself open to negotiation – which is a very slippery slope. Having consistent rules gives toddlers structure and helps them to feel safe and secure.
- patience patience patience
Yes, I do sound like a broken record and yes, it often feels like I’m the only one listening. But I try to repeat the same message and offer my toddler another chance to show better behaviour and self control. This doesn’t work all the time, but even if the right behaviour is shown some of the time I know I’m doing well.
- recognising, acknowledging and moving on
Having two toddlers who spend most days together I’m forever acknowledging what is causing them to act out which helps with teaching them self control – and it’s usually one or the other’s actions. This sentence gets, or something like it is said at least a couple of times a day in my house… ‘I see you’re upset because your sister is playing with your favourite toy but it doesn’t mean we can push her. This hurts her and makes mummy very upset. What would you like to say to your sister so we can play happily together?’
- showing empathy
Toddlers, just like adults want to know they are heard and understood. Ever since my toddler has turned three, offering reasons why we are doing something he doesn’t want to do has become more effective. Whenever we leave the park our conversation goes like this… ‘I know you want to stay longer at the park, but if we don’t get home soon mummy won’t have time to cook dinner and then you will be hungry’.
This blog post was brought to you and your baby with love by Julia and the Itchy Baby Co. team X.