As parents, it is our duty and responsibility to give our children all the tools and coping skills they need to be successful for when they venture out into the great big world one day. We need to teach them how to effectively handle situations and encourage good decision making. While we are all so aware of its importance, it is not always the easiest thing to do. Yes, this is on top of packing lunches, school drops, play dates and war at dinner time. Finding the time to do this between everyday chores is tough!
Fortunately, one of the best ways you can encourage good behaviour in your child is through positive reinforcement, which can actually be incorporated into everyday activities.
It is incredibly easy to become frustrated with a tantruming three year old and lose your cool, but this only teaches them that frustration and anger are a suitable way to deal life's tough moments.
We need to remember that toddlers are completely different creatures to us. They aren’t capable of the same coping mechanisms and processes that we have learned to use over time. They cannot express themselves the way we do, and sometimes their bodies just don’t cooperate with what their young minds want to accomplish. However, there is one thing we do have in common with them, and that is the great, warm fuzzy feeling we get when somebody rewards or compliments us for something we have done.
You are your toddlers world, they will do anything to impress you and hope for your golden praise. Using this to your advantage, you can incorporate positive reinforcement into everyday activities that will over time build up great self confidence and show your child the correct way to deal with situations.
Instead of always focusing on the negative and disciplining your child, rather reward or “ooh and aah” over their good behaviour. This encourages them to seek out your praise more by behaving in the manner you want.
Some ways of rewarding or encouraging positive behaviour:
- Squeeze and hug your little one after they have done something good.
- Reward your little one with the coolest secret handshake after they have cleaned their room up.
- Let your child overhear you praising how great they really are. This could be to another adult or even a teddy. Make them know what a proud mummy you are.
- Cheer and clap when they have slept in their own bed all night.
- Simply tell them how clever and grown up they are acting if they do something like put their dish in the sink.
If your kid loves attention (which most toddlers do), they might start doing these greats things all the time. Yes, this is amazing and exactly what you want to happen, but the clapping and cheering may become a bit much after a while and lose its appeal. If this becomes the case, you could always look into creating a rewards chart with your toddler. Have them involved in the colouring and designing to make it extra special. Give them a sticker for every chore or good thing they do, and when they have the right amount of stars they get to choose a treat or movie to watch on family night - whatever floats their boat.
By doing this, you are showing your child that good behaviour has positive outcomes in life, creating a valuable and positive member of society.
In the past, emotions and expressions of feelings weren’t always welcomed with open arms. Because of this, society was full of repressed individuals who often acted out in anger or couldn’t appropriately engage in situations with the correct emotions.
Thankfully times are changing and we are now in a society that encourages us to be in tune with our emotions. Giving our children the ability to recognise and embrace their emotions is priceless.
If you have ever been stuck with a two year old in the middle of a full blown tantrum, you might think that there is no possible way anything positive can come of it. But low and behold, a tantrum can be one of the best pieces of teaching material available to us moms!
When your child throws a tantrum, there is obviously something that is upsetting them. They cannot successfully express their emotions, so they whirlwind out of control and kick and scream. When this happens, you need to get down to their level. Breathe deeply and slowly, encouraging them to copy you. When they have calmed down you can then start communicating to them on their level. In short, simple sentences, ask them to explain what has upset them. Even if you know what the cause was, it is important to get them to voice this and understand why they are upset. Once this is established, talk them through how they should have handled the situation. If it were someone playing with their favourite toy, maybe they should have come to you first and asked for help. If you follow this routine each time that your child gets upset, it will show them that there is always a way to solve a problem by staying calm, assessing the situation and then figuring out a way forward from there.
It is very important to remember that you are role model number one. A wild, off the chain tantruming mum is not setting a good example for an impressionable toddler. While dealing with a little dictator can sometimes be incredibly frustrating, you need to be the example of cool, calculated behaviour.
Giving your child the ability to act in a positive and stable manner is so important. It is something that you can teach them during every day activities. By just changing your attitude to situations, you can set the way they handle life going forward.
Remember that little ones need love and reassurance, and positive reinforcement is the best possible way to lead them forward while still loving and enjoying every single part of being a mum.
Here at BodyICE positive parenting and a positive mental attitude is as important to us as physical wellness and recovery. Please visit our Mental Training section to access our powerful visualisations and mental training books.