As children develop, they learn the skills to be polite, cooperative and helpful. Along the way, it is the duty of parents and daycare providers to encourage and support appropriate behaviors. Two childcare experts give excellent tips for reinforcing good behavior in toddlers.
Suzy Martyn, Parenting Consultant, Speaker, and author of Enjoy the Ride: Tools, Tips, and Inspiration for the Most Common Parenting Challenges provides the following suggestions:
- Model the desired behavior. If a toddler sees the behavior naturally in a parent or teacher, they are much more apt to do it when directed so.
- Encourage and affirm. It takes 7 positive statements to make up for a negative one so our children need to hear much more praise in order to accept any direction.
- Intervene and guide earlier rather than later. Sometimes children can work out conflict or direct their own behavior in a positive manner but most of the time, they can benefit from an adult noticing early on when he/she needs some guidance, direction, and reminder in order to get them back on track before he/she gets too far off.
- Read books, watch movies, and talk often about examples of good behavior.
- Notice when someone is behaving well and comment about it. Make it something desirable to attain.
- Start fresh after each conflict is resolved. Don’t bring up old mistakes or make children feel hopeless, criticized, or defeated.
- Talk about your own experiences and how your good behavior brought about good things.
Zohra Sarwari, professional speaker, author, and home schooling mother of three, provides the following tips:
- Sit with your child away from the fight, and ask questions. Let your child answer the questions for you. For example: When you toddler grabs a toy from someone else, ask him or her how they would feel if this happened to them?” Give them a toy that belongs to you and ask them how would you like to give that back to me? Should I grab it or ask you for it?
- Make a chart for good deeds. Every time they do a good deed check it on the chart. Or put a sticker on the chart.
- Explain to them how feelings work, and what makes us sad, and what makes us happy. Ask them which feeling do they like most and which one do they not like?
- Make sure that your toddler isn’t hungry or tired, and that is why they are acting out. I always carry extra snacks, and make sure they take their nap, at nap time.
- Always have many different activities available for your toddler. An active mind is a happy mind. I always make sure that I have books, puzzles, numbers, pencil and paper.
- Ask them what is wrong? Listen to them explain it to you, and then address the problem. Many times as parents we jump to conclusions, and deal with a problem without knowing what the root problem is. Take a few minutes, and find out what is really bothering your child.
Remember that no child is perfect and part and good behavior is a skill set that must developed. In the meantime, your best bet for dealing with behavior issues with toddlers in child care centers is to set clear boundaries, to be firm, calm when issues arise and always follow through. Consistency is the key. Then remember to emphasize and reinforce appropriate behaviors in order to encourage children on an appropriate behavioral path.
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