By Ndidi Adekunle
This particular age group is known for endless energy, self-centredness, and stubbornness. Now, it’s not as though our ‘angels,’ particularly set out to be mean. Let’s just say they’re ‘testing their boundaries’ and are in the process of learning, by trial and error, social norms by which to relate in this vast world. In our part of the world, most techniques for toddler discipline revolve around either or a combination of spanking, shouting, and threatening, in no particular order, and without guidelines, per se.
What variety of techniques or methods do we then use and what are the guidelines attached to each to help us properly adjust our style in order to get the results we seek?
1. Diversion Tactics: This is when just before a situation gets out of hand or you suspect your toddler is just about to throw a tantrum, you quickly nip it in the bud by looking for something adequate (real or made up), and of interest to distract her.
You can quickly dash to the window and announce, “See, it’s raining outside!” Your toddler is likely to pick an interest and come by to the window to see, and then you can quickly add by singing the sonf, “Rain Rain, Go Away…!” and on goes the story until he’s totally forgotten about the tantrum. This requires some creativity, every parent or guardian are expected to have.
2. Praise and Rewards not Bribes: You’re probably wondering, “What’s the difference?” What’s advised here is that you reward your toddler for good behaviour without having discussed the planned reward earlier with him.
This is different from bribery where the child is in with you on the plan. See the difference now? Rewards are productive while bribes could be counter- productive and your toddler learns not to do anything positive unless there’s a reward attached to it.
3. Selective Deafness: Toddlers can be naughty for different reasons. Most often however, they behave badly just to get attention. For a toddler, a negative response from a loved one is better than no response at all. So, they will whine, ask endless questions, and generally misbehave just to get your attention, positive or negative.
It therefore stands to reason that if you’re the sort of parent who gives too much attention to the child’s whims, you can trust that your toddler knows just how to ‘press your buttons’ and ‘get you going,’ all for his own entertainment. What you should do is to pretend to hear and respond only to the behaviour you want from your toddler, and pretend not to hear, or completely ignore and disregard any behaviour that is aimed at annoying, irritating, or to merely seek unnecessary attention.
To be continued...