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Setting Boundaries With Toddlers (page 3)

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7. Dealing With The Word “No”: Oh boy, isn’t this just the fun one. I’ve found the best response to this to be, “I understand you don’t want to do xyz, but I’m not asking you sweetheart, I’m telling you.”

Usually that works (believe it or not). When said with authority, kids respond to this pretty quickly. If they don’t, it’s an immediate time-out. I usually repeat what I’ve said, “I understand you don’t want to do xyz, but I didn’t ask you if you wanted to do it, I told you it needed to be done.”

8. Your Friend, The Time-Out: Definitely use time outs. Toddlers want to interact as much as they can, and stopping all interaction really gets their attention. And the great thing is, there is no need to yell or spank or get cranky.  Simply walk up to the child, pick him or her up, and put the kid in time-out.

This can be done by putting the child in the corner, in one specific spot in the house or on a special chair that’s in the corner. You want the time out spot to be very quiet and boring. Toddlers don’t like boring. The time out should last for as many minutes as the child is old. So two-year-olds get two minutes, two-and-a-half gets two-and-a-half minutes, three-year-olds, three minutes etc.

Set up the rule for time-out before time-out actually happens. And the rule is: you don’t get up until mommy or daddy (or care-giver) comes and gets you. Period.

If the child gets up, you silently (key here being silently) put him back. This can take fifteen or twenty minutes if you’ve never done a time-out before, and that’s OK. Let it take however long it takes. No negotiations, no talking. This can try the patience, it really can. But the sooner you start doing this, the easier it will be (we started our son at 18 months, and even at three-years-old, he still won’t get up). And it’s worth it!

Once the time-out is over, go over to your child and ask him why you put him in the corner (or time-out). You want to make sure he understands exactly what happened and that they can explain it back to you. Helps you make sure the lesson was heard.

9. The Power of The Positive: Praise, and sometimes even over-praise good behavior. Because our opinion means so much to our little ones, it’s really hard to over-do this. I’m not talking about the “Oh you’re SO special!” kind of praise. I mean very specific praise for specific behavior. Some things that come to mind are:

“Honey that was SO great how you listened to Mommy when I was on the phone! You remembered the rule! I’m so proud of you! Now what did you want to tell me?”

“That was a GREAT clean up! Look how great your room looks! Aren’t you so proud of your room? You’re taking such good care of your toys!”

“I just want you to know that I know how much you wanted that candy earlier today, and you were so great the way you listened to mommy! We’ll have some candy after dinner tonight, just for you!”

10. Please and Thank You: This seems to be a dying tradition among children these days. Again, only my opinion, but I think it’s important to each our little ones to say please and thank you for things. When asked if they would like something, encouraging our kids to say, “Yes please” as opposed to just nodding their heads teaches them to truly acknowledge when someone has asked something of them. It’s a sign of respect, yes, but I think it also teaches responsibility for behavior. If please isn’t used, I usually say something like, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that.”

As for thank you, that’s pretty easy to instill. I’ve found the most effective way to instill this gem is to say it when I hand them something, “Thank you Mommy.” They’ll usually repeat it, and then you can just stop saying it and they’ll keep going. I also find the “Now Jimmy, tell so-and-so thank you!” is quite annoying. I’m sure it is for the kids too. It’s assuming that they won’t say it. I find the more effective way, and it’s more respectful of our kids, is to lean in and whisper to them before the time comes. If they’re in public and someone is about to hand them something, or just did, lean in and say, “I know you know this, but I wanted to remind you to say ‘Thank you’.” Works like a charm and the kids are proud that they weren’t prompted in front of everyone.

Like i said, I’m no expert. These are things that I’ve found to really work for me, and maybe they only work for me. *smile. But I thought it worth sharing. I hope it helps! Take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. We’re all in this fun game together!

Author: Sarah

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