Each state of child development has some particular challenges and with toddlers,I think it’s important first to understand what they’re capable of develop mentally because that will determine what we can do as a parent.
As we get into that today, I think one of the first things that we get to review is our basic control and maturity model.
So, as a quick review, when we plotcontrol against maturity, we get a graph that looks something like this. Where on the side, we have control. Meaning. control over your own life. Or your child’s control over his or her own life.
It starts at zero down here at the bottom,it goes up to 100% here at the top. You can have all the control or one of the control or somewhere in between. And it’s usually somewhere in between.
Down here is maturity. Meaning, how grown-up you are.So, one way to think about maturity is age. If we start at birth, how much control do you have over your own life at birth? Hardly any. It’s way down here.How about as an adult at the other end of the spectrum. How much control do you have over your own life? A whole lot more and we’re not going to get into all the fineprint. I know that there’s some of that. between birth and adulthood, we have this kind that shows the relationship between control and maturity. The more mature you become, the more control you get to have over your own life.
So, when we’re talkingabout toddlers, we’re down here on this end of the control and maturity spectrum.
The part under the line is the part that people have for themselves. The part over the line is the part that take.
In this case, it’s you as the parent.So, to put this into context, your toddler doesn’t have much control over their life. Sure, they can control a few things. But not much really. You as the parent get to take most of the control. This is important to know because as we come up with strategies and tips for what we’re going to do as parents, we need to understand that we have to take most of the control because our toddlers are not mature enough yet to do that for themselves. Now, this is not bad news, it’s just the way it is with our toddlers.
So, we get to focus as parents on consequences. In fact, I call this stage 1 of moral development. There’s stage2, is kind of here in the middle. Stage 3 is over there on the on the far side. And you can get a full review of that in some of the other article here on the website .
What’s called stage 1 of moral development.
They don’t have the ability yet to do abstract kinds of thinking or to employthings like morals and values to drive their behavior as opposed to just responding to consequences. So, it tends to be very concrete, it tends to be very simple thinking as opposed to complex thinking. That’s development all appropriately. So as we take that into consideration as parents, what kinds of things are we going to do?
When kids are at stage 1, we have to use the kind of consequences that do not require cooperation. So, think about as a parent.
What do I control or enforce? What can I enforce 100%?
Whether or not my child is willing to cooperate. That’s the most useful question that we can ask when it comes to dealing with toddlers. Depending on where you are inthe toddler phase.
Because I’m thinking of toddlers as you’ve got infant stage obviously in the little babies. When they start to walk and toddle around, that’s when thinking of as being toddlers. And that can start anywhere around 6to 8 months and continues up through 18 to 24 months. Once they hit 2 we’re getting into those preschool years. So I’m talking about thebkids who are in that face where there’s not a lot of linguistic ability yet.
They’re learning their language at this point. So,
we want to create a Language-Enriched Environment. Environment.When you’re giving instructions to a toddler, it’s important to keep them very simple as opposed to complex. You’re not going to give a toddler
example a multi-step instruction or command. Like go pick up your toys and then come in here to get your teeth brushed and then you’re going to go to bed. Now, just take onestep at a time. These little guys can’t quite process all of those steps at once.
They’ll start to learn to sequence step. But that actually comes in a little later phase of development. So you focus on one thing.What you want them to do right now.
You might have to guide and direct them physically. So they as toddlers, they’re still small enough that you can… You canget down there and you can guide their little shoulders or usher them along,right?
You can’t do this with a 17-year old but in light of where they are intheir…
In their development and their moral reasoning, you can still control a lot of those kinds of things.
I like to with toddlers also introduce them to thec of choice.
So, we like to give them choices. And here’s something that’sreally going to help you as a parent.
2 choices. You always give them 2 choices. Both of which you’re okay with, alright? You’re good with the either choice. You can use this with your older kids, too. We’re getting in the car to go to the store, do you want to come on your own feet or come on mommy’s feet? Okay?
So,2 choices. You can come on your own feet or come on mommy’s feet. Either way it’s okay with me. I’m good with either one. And one of them you control. One of them you can enforce. And that’s the one coming on mommy’s feet where you pick him up and they can be screaming but they learn that, “Oh, when mommy gives metwo choices, I have to pick between the two that she gives me. Because if I choose door number 3 then I get the one I didn’t want.” You know something else that we ought to take just a moment to discuss. And this won’t surprise you because you know how passionate I am about this particular topic.
These kids are at a stage where they are learning and they are watching so carefully everything that you model for them. Keep a positive emotional tone in the discipline,
for example. Which they’re going to need because they’re little and they’re figuring things out. Keep as positive as you can.
Disengaging the emotion from the discipline and piling the emotion intothe relationship. As you model positivity for your child, they will start to learnthat the world is actually a pretty cool place where they can have all kinds of experiences. And they get opportunities to learn things. That’s what the consequences are for.
You are going to apply these things in a kind way. So we do have to control a lot of things in our toddler’s world but we do it in away that is kind and loving and benevolent. Because that’s the kind of parent you are. Keep it positive.
Thank you for engaging with this article. I have appreciated the questions that have come through on these parenting article, Happy to handle more of them.
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