Enforcing positive parenting does not mean that you’ll never have to deal with an unhappy toddler again or that it’ll all be smooth sailing. All it teaches us is a way to deal with these situations without panicking or getting aggressive and impatient with our children. I’ve recently been more eager to put these practises into action as I saw myself becoming something that I had worked so hard NOT to become! I had put in too much effort to let everything go to waste now. We need to be consistent in our practise to teach our children to love and grow the way they need to and at their own speed.
“Whatever you would have your children become, strive to exhibit in your own lives and conversation.”
Learning is a natural process, we just have to allow children to do it in a loving environment. We need to provide the nourishment for them to flourish. We can not expect a child to behave a certain way if we are not ready to set an example. It is unbelievablely beautiful (and scary at the same time) how our children soak in everything they see and hear from us, their parents. I’ll give one example of how every time the sun is shining and the birds are singing I take Jana out for a walk and have always tried to make her appreciate what a lovely day it is. Only now when she’s able to comprehend better, what I’m saying, has she started to repeat this back to me. When she’s the happiest she’ll look up to me and say ‘it’s a lovely day mummy!’ I love that she understands when she’s feeling happiest playing and being goofy, she’ll relate it to being a lovely day. It applies to negative situations too. Meal times can be difficult especially for new mums (or even anxious mums as the energy you give out is very quickly picked up by the child and he reacts to that energy you give off!) so when an anxious, nervous mum starts serving dinner, knowing the food will be turned down once again she will get frustrated which can lead to loud voices and aggressive behaviour. This is also something the child picks up on! They will soon learn that meal times are when you get impatient and angry so they will most likely NOT be looking forward to meal times.
There’s a lot that goes on in the little humans lives that we fail to recognise most of the time. We forget the fact that this tiny individual is struggling with such big emotions and his tantrum or meltdown is mostly not because he’s just being ‘naughty’ at all! He’s struggling to understand a situation and he needs your help to understand. If in such a situation you’ve decided to shout and punish him instead he will never learn to communicate his feelings to you and bottle everything up, which is the opposite of what we’re trying to teach our children!
You need to remain calm and constantly remind yourself of how hard it is for your child’s brain to make certain connections in relation to the emotions he’s feeling, at such a young age, and help him work through it by being a good role model for him. Here are a few ways to help you deal with this:
Communication is key
Talking about emotions helps your child realise what he’s dealing with. Instead of asking your child ‘why are you crying?’ You can help him understand by using phrases like ‘Did you get scared by the loud noise?’ When we talk about issues and emotions it invites our children to be open about what they’re going through and are likely to be less frustrated. This creates a safe environment for them to be open in communication. Deal with questions and answers fairly and be prepared to offer suggestions to solve problems.
This means being present. Being actively involved in social or academic activities, engaging in hobbies and play. This is your window into understanding your child better. If you fail to recognise why your child is upset it can be difficult for you to help them through it. Being pro active means your in the front line and are able to distinguish the likes and dislikes of your child and then successfully engage their interest. Children actively involved with their families are less likely to go looking elsewhere or get involved in other unacceptable activities.
“Your children need your presence more than your presents.” – Jesse Jackson
Encourage good behaviour
If your a parent you have probably already seen the spark in your child’s eyes when you approve and encourage a positive action. Like when you go to a basketball game, for example, and your child scores a basket. This has you standing and cheering for them which immediately gives them the pride and satisfaction of having done something amazing! Concentrating on punishment doesn’t necessarily steer the child away from bad behaviour (sometimes makes them more likely to do it for attention) but encouragement makes them work harder especially when they see how happy you are with them because ultimately they look up to you and are always looking for your approval!
Get socially active
Children are naturally trusting and look up to role models around them. Getting involved and helping out in your community will help your child see how to interact with friends and neighbours and demonstrate tolerance. It will teach them just how rewarding it can be to help out someone or positively change someone’s life.
Check in with yourself
Being your best means taking care of yourself, getting a good nights sleep means you’ll be at your best and most assertive to your child’s needs. Check out my post on how to make the most of your day. Putting others needs before yourself all the time is not the kind of behaviour you want to instil in your child so you don’t want to model it either.
In order for you to teach your child how to be dependable and a reliant individual you have to model it yourself first of course. To do this you have to be true to your word. When you promised to go to the park after they finished all their lunch, you need to follow through with that promise. You need to put aside your chores or work obligations out of the way for the time being and just be there for them.
Parenting doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be about what you should be doing or whether you should have punished them for a bad behaviour. All they really need is love. Spilling over an entire box of Cheerios doesn’t mean they are behaving badly, they are exploring the physics of what happens when you turn a box upside down. Everything falls out! Yes it can be inconvenient to stop and deal with this with our busy lives but your child will be an adult before you know it. They will slowly be less dependant on you for most things and you will have missed out a great opportunity to raise a beautiful human being.