While I didn't agree with all that she had to offer, I will say that I came out of there with a better understanding of the toddler mind and different strategies that I can throw into my "bag of tricks" to pull from when I need to.
I wrote down a whole slew of notes from what she said. And since there were 8 of us there, there were some questions that pertained to what each of us may be dealing with a this time. So, even though I did get some specific questions of mine answered, I think I would still love to do a one-on-one session with someone like her to evaluate our specific family/children and offer advice.
Here are some notes that I took from the session:
- The stronger the attachment is with your child the more kids will be open to listening.
- Throwing food on the floor (at 12-15 months-ish) is a normal part of development.
- Always say what you want your child to do. Example: "You may walk," "You may touch nicely," "You may eat a treat after you finish all of your dinner." Instead of, "Don't run." "Don't hit" or "No snack/treats right now."
- Don't use contractions: Don't, Won't, Can't, etc. Children only hear "hit," "run," etc.
- Through preschool/early kindergarten age kids hit and push as part of their development. It's totally normal.
- Young children (through early kinder) don't have impulse control. Time outs probably won't work because of this, instead re-direct or separate them. (Notice how you give time outs for the same thing over and over and over again?!?!)
- Verbalize emotions for children. "I can see that you are mad/sad/bored, etc."
- Saying, "I know you are mad but we don't hit. You may hit this pillow instead."
- Toddlers may only get every 3rd or 4th word you say. Keep it brief...1-2 sentences.
- 5 yo+ can start to "manipulate" since they have more brain development at this age. Before this they can't.
- As soon as our tone starts to elevate children hear nothing of what you are saying. They just focus on your body language and face and see you getting angry.
- It is scary for a child to see their "go to person" (this is what she kept calling parents) mad.
- Teach repairative acts. Example: If they push someone down take them over to the person they hurt and give them an ice pack.
- Reward after 2 or 3 times. (this was in response to my question on reward charts) But don't use reward charts for everything cause then they will think that they are going to "get something" for everything they do. Try to use a lot of praise!
- Toddlers have no concept of time. We can't expect them to wait for long periods.
- Be available. It's hard for kids to tolerate time alone if they are put in their rooms as discipline.
- Young ones really do need CONSTANT attention.
- Be empathetic.
- Help them calm down when throwing a temper tantrum. It is scary for them to be out of control like that and they don't have the know how to always calm themselves down. When there is distress we look to someone to help us. She gave an example of adults even. When we are upset we call a friend or spouse to talk it out and help us feel better. Same (or even more so) with kids.
- You will have to repeat yourself 1000x's for kids to do something. "Go get your shoes, etc."
- Children want to feel in control somewhere so let them have lots of choices when you can. "What color plate do you want to eat off of?" "Would you like to wear the blue shirt or the green shirt." "Would you like to put your shoes on or do you want me to help you put your shoes on?"
- Future relationships, learning, etc. all depend on the attachment they have with their "go to person."
Like I said, I didn't agree with everything that she talked about mainly the part when she discussed giving time outs as I do believe there needs to be some form of discipline even if you have to do it over and over and over again. (*Side note: She didn't say don't discipline, but she did say that it doesn't usually work. So, if you need to do a quick time out then do so as to calm yourself down or the child down then follow up with a "time in" in which you explain what went wrong and offer an alternative to the punishable behavior*) I did agree with her on the level of expectations. I fully believe that I often expect too much from Kaiden and Madelyn. I often think that they should "get it" by now but after speaking with her and realizing what goes on in the toddler mind, I can see that mentally they just aren't capable of some things. After all, they are only (just turned) 3 and 17 months old! So, this has helped me to lower my expectations slightly (I am a work in progress!) and realize that I will need to repeat myself (a million times), stay calm and help them through different situations better.
It's all a learning game. No one has the "correct answer" to parenting. But maybe somewhere along the way if we have enough tools to pull from we will one day get it right! Happy parenting!