We all know that children are there own little people and very quickly they start exerting their independence. Unfortunately, the way they show this independence is often through saying no, tantrums and shouting.
Children can also become frustrated quickly and this can lead to them becoming aggressive. Getting children to behave is difficult and it always feels as though other people’s children are better behaved than yours but there are some simple techniques you can use to help you get your child to do what you want them to.
Play with them
It seems silly to give children who are being badly behaved more attention as we are always told to ignore bad behaviour, but the right attention can work wonders. Children love playing with adults and it is essential for building good relationships. The best thing about it is you have a lot of control over what you do and for how long.
Even if you can only managed half an hour a day you will quickly notice a difference. Whether it is kicking a ball around, baking, colouring in or just reading a book together, positive attention is not a reward for bad behaviour it is a necessity to avoiding it.
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Easier said than done when you are in the middle of the super market and your little darling is screaming the place down or he has decided to start hitting your friend’s child. Before reacting count to 10! Children unconsciously feed off your emotions, and if they sense you are getting stressed, they will become more stressed and show this with more bad behaviour.
By stepping back and counting to ten you will have the opportunity to control your emotions before reacting to their behaviour.
Get down to their level
Once you have counted to 10 you will then need to do something about the unwanted behaviour. The first thing you will probably do is talk to your toddler about what they have done wrong. Get down to their level; be face to face with them. Having someone shouting at you from up above is not going to be effective.
There is little point scaring your child, it will not do anything for your relationship and they certainly won’t grow up respecting you. By getting down to their level, you are able to get eye contact with them and make the conversation you have feel more personal to them. They will be able to see your facial expressions and start to understand that their actions affect those around them.
Use a deeper voice
The old threat of ‘wait until your father gets home’ is one loads of us heard when we were young and one that is still used today. However, it worked, why? I think the main reason ‘the father’ is seen as the disciplinarian is for some reason we had a greater fear of our fathers. Quite often a male teacher is seen as having better behaviour management than the female teachers. This will have very little to do with the consequences he uses as these will be part of school policy, he certainly isn’t going to smack the children so what is it? I think it has a lot to do with the pitch of their voice.
Children are naturally more wary of deeper sounds, so if you want your child to stop doing something lower your voice, in fact the lower and quieter you can get your voice the more effective it is. I don’t know the science behind it, but having worked in school for over 10 years I do know it works! Try it! The next time your child misbehaves tell them off by lowering your voice rather than making it louder.
Praise, praise and praise some more!
Saying something positive is the best line of defense you have. Children love to please; by going over the top at how well they have done, will not only want them to repeat the behaviour, but will also grow their self-esteem. Some days I find myself saying no or being negative a lot, my 3 year old is constantly not doing what I have asked and the more I say no the more she misbehaves. It is usually when I am the most tired and when I could do with her just behaving. It is at times like these when I need to stop and find something good that she has done.
It is often very small, as simple as picking something up nicely or passing me something but it is enough to change the tone of the atmosphere. Once they have pleased you once they will try and do it again and again. However, this does come with a slight warning – it is exhausting finding the positives to praise to begin with but it does get easier and is worth it!
Set realistic goals (give them the chance to achieve)
Do not ask a toddler to do something you know they can not do. There is no point in asking a toddler to sit still for an hour while you go out for a family meal, they simply don’t have the ability to be still for that long.
When shopping, you are presenting your toddler with a whole host of new things to play with, their natural instinct is to explore through touch. Provide them with games to play or challenges while you are in these situations so that the focus is not on what they can not do but what they can do. Eg take them to a restaurant with a park attached or ask them to find certain items when shopping.
Getting a toddler to do what you want them to do can be a challenge at the very best of times. It takes time and encouragement and works best the earlier you start. It is not easy contently finding positive things to praise or remembering to count to ten or speak in a low, calm voice when all you want to do is scream. But at the end of the day, they are the children and we are the adults and a little bit of effort will make everyone’s lives a lot happier!