our everyday life

Child Development and Positive Guidance for Toddlers

by Stacey Chaloux, studioD

It may seem like your toddler's favorite word is "No," and you may have seen your fair share of toddler tantrums, which can be frustrating as a parent. However, guiding your child's behavior with positive parenting can help him to feel confident and secure, leading to better behavior. Consistent limits and frequent praise can lead to these positive feelings. Dr. Laura Markham of AhaParenting.com says that positive parenting can "help kids learn consideration and responsibility, and makes for happier kids and parents."

Positive Attention

Discipline is about teaching your little one the acceptable way to behave, and it doesn't have to be all about correcting the bad behaviors. Find as many opportunities as you can to praise her for the good behaviors you see. When she hands you her favorite toy, say "Good job sharing," or when she has to wait for your attention, tell her how patient she was. The Mayo Clinic website states that your displays of affection for your child should outnumber any consequences she receives. When she feels a positive relationship with you, she will be more motivated to follow your directions.

Say "No" Positively

Toddlers are naturally curious and will often want to test the boundaries of acceptable behavior. There will be many times you have to tell your little one "no," but it can often be done in a positive way. Instead of just saying no, offer a simple explanation. If he is climbing on furniture, say "Not safe," as you redirect him to another more suitable activity, or when he grabs for a breakable item tell him, "That's not for you," and move it out of his reach. The Ask Dr. Sears website suggests that parents vary the way tell their toddlers no, by saying "stop" or using the word "cannot," as in "You cannot touch the knives." When children hear the word "no" too often, they may begin to ignore it. Remember to pick your battles, and only say no when it is absolutely necessary.

Set Them Up for Success

While tantrums are a normal part of toddlerhood, parents can reduce them by following a few guidelines. Stick to a consistent routine, and watch your child for signs of hunger or tiredness and avoid putting her into situations that could be frustrating, like having to wait in the cart while you finish shopping. According to the Mayo Clinic website, toddlers are developing a sense of independence, and you can help to encourage that by offering your little one choices whenever possible. Let her pick out the cup she wants to use or which book she would like to read at bedtime. KidsHealth.com recommends moving unsafe or unacceptable items out of your toddler's reach to eliminate the temptation to touch them and help you avoid the battles.

Natural Consequences

Since discipline is all about teaching, it is important to let your toddler learn from his mistakes. When he does break a rule, the Mayo Clinic website suggests you let him see the consequences of his actions, as long as they are not dangerous. For example, if he is too rough with a toy and it breaks, he will not be able to play with it anymore. KidsHealth.com reminds parents never to spank or hit a child because "babies and toddlers are especially unlikely to be able to make any connection between their behavior and physical punishment."

About the Author

Stacey Chaloux is an educator who has taught in both regular and special education early childhood classrooms, as well as served as a parent educator, teaching parents how to be their child's best first teacher. She has a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Missouri and a Master of Education from Graceland University.

Photo Credits

  • Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images