My son is is a year and a half….My son is 18 months….My son will be two this year! Where did the time go?? He was just this tiny thing, couldn’t hold his head up or sleep through the night. Now….
My son wakes up around the same time each day, 6am. As soon as he wakes up he yells out, “Mommmmmm!!!” He keeps going until he hears my footsteps across the floor. I guess you could call him my personal alarm clock, but what about those days when I want a few extra minutes to lie in bed? Well, I don’t have a choice, I have to do something! I get him out the crib, change him, and then he gets right in the bed with us. Thanks to his new found sense of independence, he will lie there relatively quiet while profusely sucking his thumb or bothering his dad (oops). Once we finally get out of the bed (okay, it’s like 10-15mins tops) our day will be quiet no more (maybe a short time during his so called “nap”).
We get downstairs and he asks me, “(s)nack, (s)nack” while he points to the cabinet where the snacks are. It’s so funny to see how I pull out and show him each snack and he will shake his head yes or no until we reach thee snack of the day. Thank God I try to make healthy choices for our snacks or I’d be screwed. But yes, you heard that right- I negotiate with my toddler.
Trust me there’s a constant raging war on the inside when we go through these complex situations. The teacher in me says: “You get what you get and you don’t get upset”. However, the mother in me says, “Give him a choice so can enjoy himself”. Which is right? BOTH.
You don’t have to be perfect with your kids. Always agreeing or disagreeing with them will teach them nothing, but teaching them to problem solve and regulate their emotions will last them a lifetime. How do you know when your toddler is ready to begin negotiations? Well, if they’re saying “snack” and ready to tell you what they like or don’t like, yes, they’re ready. So what’s the next step?
1. Provide them with the vocabulary to do so. My day care parents used to get so worried and upset when I would give them a report that their child bit another child or they were bit by a child. I would always assure them that this behavior is developmentally appropriate because children at this age lack the language to effiectively communicate. Therefore, to combat this challenging behavior, we must teach them relevant vocabulary that will reduce these less positive emotions and actions. Grow their vocabulary from: “mine (age 1) to I’m using that (age 2) to let’s take turns (age 3)“.
2. Reinforce good behavior by providing them with compliments for positive actions. Tell them you like the way they cleaned up when you asked or how they were so quiet while you were on the phone. Please note, the best reinforcements come from the heart. Your words and actions are the best tools to use because this gives them intrinsic motivation which builds them up on the inside and helps them grow. Relying solely on toys, treats, or food will actually hurt your child.
3. Give them choice(s) when appropriate so that they understand they have a voice. If you’re painting, let them choose the paint color or surface to paint on. Allow them to tell you when they are finished an activity or task and move on from there. Will there always be choices available? No. But if there is, let them on own it.
“There’s a time and place for everything”.