Teaching older toddlers self-control
Toddlers understanding their limits.
Toddlers can be very impulsive and in order to understand limits and follow rules they need to learn self- control. Michigan State University Extension says that it is important to set clear rules and be consistent on our expectations. The more consistent parents are, the sooner the child will get an understanding of what is not acceptable. It is also important to have clear communication with other individuals that care for the child so they are having the same expectations.
According to zero to three some things a parent can do to help toddlers learn to cope with limits are:
1. Stay calm. The more calm a parent, the calmer the child will be. A parent can also use distraction, while ignoring their behavior, for instance, look at the bird outside.
2. Having a special place for quiet time may help, allowing them to calm down. A child can be praised for doing a good job at calming down. It is important to speak calmly.
3. Validate the child’s feelings and speak to the child on appropriate ways to handle that situation if it reoccurs.
4. A parent can suggest ways to deal with being upset appropriately, for instance, ripping paper, or painting a mad picture if the child is old enough.
5. If the problem arose with another child, teach the child the words necessary to communicate to the other child or an adult to resolve the problem in a non-conflictual manner.
6. A parent can also offer alternatives, for instance, “You cannot throw the ball, but you can throw the socks rolled up into balls.”
7. If the child is having difficulty sharing, a parent can ask the child, to decide if they want to share the ball or put the ball away. It may be helpful for parents to look for patterns in their child’s behavior, for instance, are they displaying the behavior with a certain person, a certain time of day, or location. Is the child having difficulty moving from one event to another? If so, giving the child notice of what will be taking place next will be helpful.
Finally, a good indication of what may be upsetting the child is to look at what happened before the behavior, looking at the behavior, and looking at the outcome (before, during, and after). It will be helpful to focus only on a few (one to two) behaviors at time. It will allow the parent to be more consistent and the child not to get frustrated. Once the child has corrected the behavior the parent can move on to another problem area.