What if your mindset and your toddler’s misbehaviours are connected?
If my question is stirring a reaction or a response in you, it’s worth reading on! So, what is your mindset regarding your toddler’s misbehaviour in the following scenario? Your toddler is jumping off your sofa onto your coffee table, shouting louder with each flying leap AND just to add to this scenario you’ve settled your 4 month old for their nap and you need to make lunch and ………
Your initial feeling around this scenario may be either a split second reaction or pausing and then responding.
A reaction mindset is laced with feelings of……….
Believing you’re the boss, that you are more powerful than your toddler….
When you say something to your toddler you want it done now…RIGHT NOW!
You are probably using shame and blame to make your toddler do what you are demanding?
Should is a word you use a lot when speaking to your toddler.
You like to be in control.
You expect your toddler to learn to do as you SAY out of fear of a punishment.
Perhaps this was how it was for you as a child?
A Responding mindset invites you to…….
Ask what is your toddler feeling right now behind this behaviour?
What’s the reason behind your toddler’s behaviour?
How am I feeling as he performs stunts to match a professional stunt man on my sofa?
What’s my part in this interaction? How am I contributing to this current behaviour?
Yes, of course your toddler needs to jump, needs to push limits regarding physical safety. It’s healthy, it’s typical and to be expected.
Let’s break down into bite size steps how to relate to your toddler, from a place of RESPONDING rather than reacting and strengthen your relationship at the same time.
1. Time to use my milli second parenting question “IS IT SAFE OR RESPECTFUL?”
Jumping from the sofa to the coffee table isn’t safe AND it isn’t respectful therefore YOU need to take action. You need to keep your toddler physically safe.
You may reacting shouting across the room, “Stop, Don’t do it, I’ve told you already, that’s it!!” and physically yanking your toddler off the table and perhaps sending them to time out.
Or you may respond with words such as? “Oh oh, it’s not safe for you to jump on our coffee table; I’m going to move it over here so that it’s safe for you….. It’s part of my job to keep you safe”.
You have clearly stated, it’s not safe, the reason why you moved the table and without any need for discussion or negotiation you have calmly made toddler’s environment physically safe.
Mental note of kindness & compassion #1 to self…… is to have a look at how that coffee table can function better for your toddler and you? Could you store a book basket of your toddler’s favourite books along with yours?
Kind and compassionate note #2 to self……I need to make sure there’s a bit more physical movement for you before naptime in future…
Next you need to target and set the behaviour you want, but first you need to
2. Know your expectation around your toddler’s behaviour when your infant naps? What is your expectation? Having an expectation of your toddler that an “Inside voice” is used when you are indoors is a reasonable and appropriate expectation. You may also permit/allow “quiet type play/toys”.
Let your toddler know where and when it’s time for “Inside voice” and also where “Outdoor voice” is expected. To be successful in using an “Inside voice” you need to practice it with your toddler and model your own “Inside voice”.
Right now though you urgently need your toddler to use “You’re inside voice”.
3. Check in AND be aware of how you are feeling. You may be feeling stressed under pressure to keep your infant napping. Are you feeling impatient, tired, afraid of a potential meltdown or confident in your interactions with your toddler?
Let’s go with you feeling that you confident and to the nuts & bolts of
4. How best to connect and re-direct your toddler by choosing to RESPOND over a gut reaction
Walk over to your toddler avoiding sudden, angry fast movements
Get down to your toddler’s level calmly speaking
Your tone of voice allows your toddler to ‘catch’ your genuineness.
Your body language, your eye contact is all being ‘learnt’ by your toddler.
Observe your toddler’s body language.
Name your toddler’s feelings…….”You are having fun, feeling happy and strong flying through the air of the sofa and to the coffee table”. Use humour here too if it feels natural!
When you are naming your toddler’s feelings you are modelling and teaching EMPATHY to your toddler. Empathy is invaluable in building your toddler’s emotional and social development which sets the tone for ALL your toddler’s future relationships.
Use language such as, “Right now XX is napping, she’s needs her nap to be healthy and strong”
Redirecting your toddler to the behaviour you expect and need to see. I need you to use your “Inside Voice” so XX can nap and choose a different game”. If your toddler able for (only you know this) or is closer to 36 months old, you may add something like, “After lunch I will play “Jumping on the foam blocks/flying airplane game” with you, but right now I need you to CHOOSE another game”
You allow your child to hear you, wait a few seconds to ‘catch’ your calmness.
Your toddler needs to feel that you are keeping him/her emotionally safe.
The word CHOSE is powerful here, as you are encouraging independence in your child, which is one of the primary goals of his current stage of development. Within the word CHOOSE your toddler ‘catches’ that you believe in him and trust in his ability to make a choice…..
As soon as you feel, observe in your toddler that split second moment where they are responding to your re-direction, offer the play/game that facilitates using their “Inside voice”.
This means you are clear on what play/games are conducive to using their “Inside Voice” and you know ahead of this interaction what games are played on the floor AND what games are played on the table. Of course your voice is quiet and calm as you are using your “Indoor Voice” right now!
Your verbal interaction may be something along the lines of, “You can choose the”Farm game or Tea set game”. (It’s best to say the game/play you ideally would like them to choose last, as this is what their brain will remember!!)
I’m running with tea set game last as you may be able to set this up at your kitchen table or on a little table you have set up just for this type of game. Remember, your toddler loves to imitate you! (Having a little table for this type of game means you are ahead in creating an environment for your toddler and for the time that your infant is crawling).
Calmly walk hand in hand, to where the game is stored, inviting your toddler to choose the game, take it off the shelf and either sit on the floor with the farm game or to sit at the table for Tea set game.
You may need to sit with them initially and then after a few minutes let your toddler know “I am going to get lunch ready for us while you are playing using your inside voice”…
Always end on a positive, “Thanks for using your “Inside voice”, I knew you could choose a quiet time game”.
Finally, I’m wondering if you now realize whether you are working from a mindset of reacting or responding to your Toddler? It’s worth choosing to respond in your relationship with your toddler.
I’d love to hear your experiences of using my tips and strategies.
This is a sample of part of what you can expect from my Strengthening Your Relationship with Your Infant & Toddler ONE day training workshop. https://www.facebook.com/events/280770855766367/