There is always an explanation for the naughty toddler. They are into ‘action speaks louder than words’ kind of thing. The tantrums, hitting, biting, saying ‘no’ to everything is age appropriate and means your toddlers are growing up and exploring their world, feeling the frustration of that world around them and not knowing how to deal with their feelings.
We have the saying ‘curiosity killed the cat’, well, toddlers are curious too. Sometimes it’s their curiosity that leads them astray. They think things like ‘what will happen if I stuff paper down the toilet?’ or ‘what will crayon look like if I scribble on the wall?’ They are not mature enough to consider the consequences of what they do. The same is true about communication, they don’t have the words for ‘ Im tired, put me down for my nap!’ so they push everything off their toy shelf onto the floor or they tip their lunch bowl onto the floor. Their frustration gets the better of them and they have a tantrum and cannot control their emotions. It comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes and out of no where, like the Tasmanian Devil… one minute they’re trying to button their coat, the next they’re throwing all the shoes off the shoe shelf !
There is a reason for their bad behavior and its down to us as parents to work that out and form strategies to reduce it next time. This is easy to say, but not so easy to put into action when you have two or three having tantrums all at the same time !
It’s not a matter of accepting what they do as totally to do with their age and stage of development. As a parent it is still important for them to be made accountable even from a young age for their behavior and understand that it isn’t acceptable and that is down to you to enforce. I found this really hard to do, I hated my triplets being upset, but I knew that if I wanted to take them anywhere and them behave, I needed to be firm. I wanted them to fit in when we went out and about, to integrate with other toddlers. Even at this young age, toddlers know which other toddlers are good or bad.
Inflicting Badly Behaved Children on the World
My triplets are older now and on the whole very well behaved, I am so proud of them and its through positive guidance and consistency that they are how they are and I think if you asked them, they would say that they have had a great childhood, not too strict, decent boundaries that they understand the reasons for and the acceptance of consequences.
When I am taking a flight and see small children at the gate, I pray that they’re not sitting behind me, or if they are that they have a proactive parent who understand the need to positively control their children. I have had to suffer the extraordinary bad behaviour some parents allow from their children. It does get me cross when I think that I was able to bring up my triplets through their toddler stages in a nurturing manner, so they can integrate into the big wide world in a positive way rather than causing havoc and upset to the community. I think it must be because these parents don’t know they’re supposed to guide their children and set reasonable boundaries. Im not suggesting for one minute that parents should be like prison guards, telling their kids off all the time but with guidance of those boundaries, your children will be awesome, make you proud when you are out and about, knowing they will be polite and friendly without knocking the fire and spark for life out of them. But I must admit having brought up triplets and having experience of triple tantrums, I am less than tolerant on a plane with a naughty child, and its not at the child but the parent for inflicting that on the whole plane.
By bringing my triplets up this way, I knew I could take them out by myself, making sure they knew where ‘the line in the sand’ was. I wanted to be able to be worry free whilst I was out, that they would be safe and happy because I had given them boundaries. One of my triplets was very feisty, she was a little live wire. I didn’t want any of them to have their love of life knocked out of them and we were way from that….. I went shopping with the three of them one day….in the supermarket. They were all helping get things in the trolley. She decided it would be fun to run up and down the aisles. She knew what the penalty would be if I had to tell her off…. But she ran up and down shouting “Its okay mummy, I know where I am, Im not getting lost… Im okay… I don’t need to sit on the naughty step… Im being good ! ” What could I say? I tried not to smile and had a little word with her.
Its too much to expect your 2 year old or 3 year old to be accountable for, or understand that what they are doing is ‘naughty’, but it is part of a parent’s job to help them understand what they did was not acceptable, on a level they will understand.
Its not acceptable for a parent, allowing their child to bite/whine/hit, saying ‘ Just what toddlers do, its just a phase.’ – This is not an excuse. How are they to learn what is the right way to behave if a parent doesn’t explain it to them… a ‘oh darling.. aren’t you feeling happy?’ doesn’t cut it.
An explanation that biting/whining/hitting isn’t how we behave with each other… Biting and hitting are particular behaviours that need to be stopped with a ‘time out’ of a few minutes or not watching a favourite programme with a suitable explanation as to why. Toddlers of only 16-18 months are able to understand that they have done wrong, but you have to tell them! The consequence has to be at the time of the naughty behaviour, particularly at this age. They won’t remember and when you say ‘ no pudding for you young lady!’ at teatime, all you will get are more tears.
The consequence must also fit the crime…. throwing bathwater out of the bath during playtime means theyre whisked straight out of the bath and no more play, or having a tantrum in the supermarket means straight back in the shopping cart seat. They can be warned, given a count down to behave, but if they don’t the consequence has to be carried through. Consistency is key.
Its tough to let your children be independent and self reliant. There is a time and place for it, agreed! I have to be honest and say that this was not something I had trouble with having triplets, if they couldn’t wait for me to help them the only choice they had was to do it themselves! What you don’t want to end up with is a 9 yr old who either cannot wait their turn or cope with having to wait. You will be nurturing your toddler into a brat. Trying to cope with 3 brats on an aeroplane would not be fun, so think into the future, when they’re older, what kind of kids you want to have, the time is now to encourage good behaviour ! My feisty daughter, was very impatient. It was fairly obvious early on. She wouldn’t wait for her bottle and was the first to feed herself. It made me a little sad that she was so independent and she came a cropper at gymnastics class. She was really good at it, but refused to wait her turn for the various apparatus. It affected her enjoyment and she gave it up. She is still a little impatient, but now she’s older she has the sense to control it.
Blaming Everyone Else
Blaming rudeness or disrespect on stuff your kids have picked up from other kids at school or from what they have watched on the TV is blaming everyone else and not taking responsibility. Its tough to keep your family values but we need to monitor what our children are watching on the TV or at nursery for example, but because they didn’t learn the behaviour from you, doesn’t release you from the responsibility. Of course you might not get it right all the time, its okay to mess up, everyone takes their foot off the pedal sometimes . Accept the lapse and take control, nurturing kids that you can take anywhere without either having to apologise for them or being embarrassed by their behaviour.
Excuses Because They’re Young
There is no excuse for bad behaviour whatever their age. Bad behaviour, even if it is age appropriate needs to be dealt with at the time, so that your child learns on that level. The discipline needs to be age appropriate. There is no point expecting a 2 year old to sit on the naughty step (if this is the form of penalty you have chosen) for 1/2 hr for unravelling the whole of the toilet roll into the toilet or for spraying the cat with your best perfume. Its too long and they will not learn. Only a few minutes are required of ‘alone time’ for the message to sink in. Find the consequence that works, if its sitting on the bottom step of the stairs, away from you, or not watching their favourite tv programme or having water to drink and not juice treat, then stick to this consequence. It adds in consistency at this level and they will know what will happen if they are troublemakers again.
Always take into consideration the situation though, it might be that they’ve had a morning at nursery being as good as gold, to lose it when you arrive. They’re small, they have behaved and need time to blow of steam in the park or sit quietly and have a story read. You will be able to read your toddlers, know what they need at these times. They still don’t get away with naughtiness though!
A Sense of Entitlement
I always hate saying no to my kids… I hedge my bets with a ‘ we’ll see’ which they know means yes in another form….Kids don’t like hearing ‘no’ either and they get used to hearing you give in all the time, leading to a feeling they are entitled, because they whine for something, get it and it works every time so the pattern repeats. This comes from the way our world works now. We are on the phone or internet, so much to look up or talk about or some other diverting stuff or we work all the time because this is the way things are now, that we start ignoring our kids, giving in to them because its the easiest thing to do for a quiet life. I am equally guilty of this. The 21st century is all about being empowered to do what ever you want to do….. well right now its raising kids and the time doesn’t have to be filled with any thing else for you to feel valued. Neglecting your children’s discipline raises a whole generation of adults that feel the world owes them something.
Our children are our future… They feel safe and secure when they are given boundaries. Rather than making them hate you because you say no and give penalties, they feel loved and safe when they have boundaries with parents who enforce them. This is nurturing your babies with love and kindness, to help them get the most out of life. We live in a society and they have to be able to learn how to do that harmoniously with everyone else… I hate that I get a screaming kid on a flight, I can see the parents are floundering around, not knowing what to do.. they are embarrassed for the behaviour and are at a total loss as to what to do the control their child because they have never done it before but now they are sharing a small space with a whole load of people and their child is out of control, awesome ….. 3 hours ( my usual flight time from Spain to UK) of hell, because a set of parents don’t nurture their offspring. Heaven help them if they had had triplets……..
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