As educators and caregivers, we at Rosewood Academy know that life with a toddler can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Toddlers have limited language skills, so the easy path when frustrated is to throw a tantrum or just have a meltdown. Nevertheless, as educators or parents, there are some simple strategies we can use to make life easier.
1. I NEED TO (STATE THE NEED).
Before wiping a child’s face or anything that requires assistance, let toddlers know what you are going to do. The child may not like it any better, but when they know what to expect it builds cooperation over time. It also demonstrates to children that we trust them.
2. GENTLE HANDS, PLEASE.
When a toddler is playing rough, using phrases such as “Use gentle hands, please” reinforces good behavior. It can be hard for a toddler to see they are inflicting pain upon another person because they don’t have the cognitive ability to understand another person’s perspective quite yet. By using such phrases, we are teaching the language and social skills needed for them to better understand another person’s perspective. (https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/manners/teaching-kids-to-mind-their-manners/)
3. WALK AWAY
When a child misbehaves, the phrase “walk away” tells them what to do in a clear manner without having to use the overused negative words “stop” or “no-no”. If a child continues with the bad behavior state, “I will help you” then say, “walk away” again. Ending by giving some form of positive reinforcement such as “Thank you for walking away (from the other child).” (http://www.teachkidshow.com/teach-your-child-to-walk-away-from-fights/)
Many children at this age still have a hard time understanding right from wrong. It’s always better to be direct and tell them instead of asking them what to do so there is no confusion. Children need concrete directions and if they are still confused we should show them what we mean. Using positive language in the process is much more beneficial and likely to result in better behavior than negatives words such as ‘no’, ‘don’t do that’ and ‘stop.’ (https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/ages-stages-learning-follow-directions/)
6. THANK YOU FOR….
Giving “specific” praise for a child’s good behavior reinforces and thereby makes it a habit. Letting a child hear about the exact action and exact praise also supports positive language development, forming connections between certain words and action. (https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/the-right-way-to-praise-your-kids#1)
8. I’M SORRY YOU’RE MAD.
When a child has a meltdown or a tantrum, it’s always best to remain calm. Acknowledging their feelings, addressing them by name and showing empathy can go a long way in helping an angry child calm down. Research shows that empathy is the most effective way to respond to a tantrum. (Brain Rules for Babies, by Dr. John Medina). As the adults in children’s lives, our role is to provide the kind of guidance that will help model their long-term behavior. Showing empathy, then helping a child walk away or redirecting their mind are helpful strategies. (http://www.pbs.org/parents/talkingwithkids/positive_discipline_tips.html)
At Rosewood Academy, we cherish the opportunity partner with you in shaping the hearts and minds of a future generation. As such, we believe in using positive strategies for managing the behavior of young children. Our goal is not just to deal with the moment with the care and respect that each child deserves, but to instill values that will shape each child’s behavior long into the future.