Being a toddler is hard work. At the age of three they can now truly communicate what they are feeling and what they want. The thing about toddlers is they are very loud about what they want. Once they get into a tantrum it's extremely difficult to bring them out of it. Being both a nanny to toddlers and now a mother to my own three year-old, I have found a fun way of teaching what sort of behavior I expect of them and it prevents fits (usually).
One of the main things that parents need to do is to teach their toddler what behavior they expect of them and to be consistant. I ask toddler questions and make it a game. For instance, imagine that we are headed to the Library. While we are on our way, I will simply say,
"When we get inside the Library, do I TALK REALLY REALLY LOUD?"
My toddler laughs, and says, "NO!"
Then I ask, "How do we talk in the Library?"
She answers, "I whisper."
We practice whispering excitedly in the car. I then let her know that if she doesn't listen, and doesn't whisper in the Library then we will have to leave and we won't get the chance to checkout new books. After I have said this, I ask:
"If I talk really loud in the Library will I get a book? If I don't listen carefully, will I get stay."
She says, "No."
This usually is followed by, "Can you help Mommy remember to whisper and listen?"
We do this consistantly, every time we go to the Library. Does she always behave? No, there are times we have to leave, but when she does do well I praise her behavior. I say to her, "I bet you feel happy you remembered to whisper and listen, and now we get new books. Isn't it nice to feel happy?"
I communicate regularly with my toddler in question form just like this with everything we do. She knows that when we leave the playground I expect her to say, "Goodbye playground, see you later." She knows that if she cries and throws a fit there will be a consequence to that behavior. Usually the best consequence for her is the removal of her favorite toy at the time. Once toddlers know, they are happy to comply because they truly want to have fun and be happy.
I can tell you right now that consistancy is the key to this type of parenting and behavior. If they do not do what you have communicated you want them to do, then you have to follow through with the consequence, even if it means leaving the restaurant right when the food gets to the table.
If you have any questions in regards to what I have written in this article, please feel free to comment and I will respond in a timely manner to all posts.
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