Despite their young age (between 2 and 5 years), children between the ages of 2 and 5 can be a real handful at times. Even if you understand that they are just learning to navigate the world, it can be difficult to maintain your composure when they are having another meltdown in the grocery store or screaming at the top of their lungs because they want to play with something potentially dangerous. Even though it may not always be easy, we’re here to assist you in answering your questions about how you can avoid some of these issues while also teaching your small children to cope with their big emotions when they occur.
How can I teach my small child good behavior?
1. Establish yourself as a positive role model for the behaviour you want to see.
From their earliest days, your children will look to you for guidance on how to deal with various situations. If you want your child to be kind to others, show them that you are kind to them as well. Do not yell if you want them to deal with conflict in a non-violent manner. Even better, if you’re demonstrating the behaviour you expect from them, they’ll be much more likely to follow the rules you establish.
Honesty is best taught by example, so always be honest yourself. Even if a small white lie appears to be harmless, by the time your child is 4 or 5, he or she will begin to notice and will conclude that it is acceptable.
Make a point of pointing out when you see other people behaving well as well. Suppose someone allows you to merge in front of them while driving in traffic. You might say, “They were very considerate to let us go first!”
2. Inform them that you have taken notice of their good behaviour.
Parents can easily fall into the trap of only pointing out their child’s negative behaviour when they have a child with behavioural issues. You have to teach them not to burp at the table, chase the dog, track mud into the house and all the other innocuous things they do throughout the day, after all. It’s more difficult to point out when your child is doing something right, but doing so can actually be more effective at encouraging your child to continue with the behaviours you want to see.
For example, you might say something like, “Thank you for using your inside voice!” or “Thank you for being creative!” or “I noticed you put your toy away after you finished playing with it.” That’s fantastic!
This will also help to strengthen the bond between you and your child, as well as to improve their sense of self-worth.
How do you discipline a child that won’t listen?
1. Maintain a set of rules and consequences for your child that are consistent.
Keep up the good work, no matter how frustrating it can be to enforce the same rules over and over again. Discuss your expectations with your child in kid-friendly language that is appropriate for his or her age, and let them know what will happen if they don’t follow the rules. While it’s acceptable to remind them once or twice, it’s best to follow up with concrete consequences. Over time, they’ll learn where the boundaries are and will eventually begin to respect them.
When it comes to rules, don’t give in just because you’re tired or overwhelmed. For example, if your child isn’t supposed to jump on the couch, give them a time-out every time it happens. Otherwise, they’ll think it’s okay to do it every now and then.
2. Decide on relevant consequences that your child will be concerned about.
In an ideal situation, the consequences should be related to the rule that was broken; for example, if your 4-year-old won’t stay in the yard, they shouldn’t be allowed to go outside to play. When that is not possible, however, determine what will have the greatest impact on your child. This might include being placed in time-out for a few minutes, losing screen time, or being denied the opportunity to participate in an activity they enjoy.
If they do not eat their vegetables at lunch, they may be required to clean up their own spills, or they may lose a toy for a period of time if they fight with their brother or sister over it.
Natural consequences can be the most effective method of achieving results. For example, if your child refuses to put on a jacket when going outside, he or she will become cold.
Keep yelling and spanking your child to a minimum. In the long run, this actually teaches them that these types of aggressive behaviours are acceptable and even encouraged. Instead, maintain as much calm as possible while enforcing your decisions.
3. When you can, ignore inappropriate behaviour.
Alternatively, if your child is only doing something mildly aggravating and you believe they are doing it to get your attention, try concentrating on something completely different instead. When they realise they aren’t getting a laugh out of you, they will most likely stop trying. Keep in mind, however, that this will be most effective if you are also providing your child with plenty of positive attention when they are being cooperative.
Of course, you should never ignore your child if they are engaging in risky behaviour.
When your child is whining or throwing a tantrum, for example, try ignoring them and deferring any rewards until they come back to you and ask nicely.
How do I make my small child happy?
1. Give them plenty of your time and attention.
When it comes to small children, it is not about having the most material possessions or going on the most elaborate vacations possible. Sure, they enjoy those activities, but when it comes down to it, children crave attention from their parents the most of all. Spend quality time with them on a daily basis, playing with them and paying attention to what they say. That will provide them with a sense of security, which will make it easier for them to deal with whatever else comes their way.
2. Maintain a routine that is predictable.
Children are generally happier when they know what to expect from their day to day activities. This predictability provides them with a sense of security in a world that can appear large and frightening at times. Assign a consistent wake-up and bedtime for your child, and encourage him or her to eat and do chores at the same times each day.
If you want, you can even designate specific days of the week for specific activities, such as going to playgroup on Tuesdays or having pizza for dinner on Friday nights.
How do you teach small children to be responsible?
1. Assign them chores that are appropriate for their age.
When your children are about 3 or 4 years old, you can begin asking them to assist you with household chores. Initial tasks should be simple, such as putting their dirty clothes in a laundry basket or placing their toys in a toy storage bin. After you’ve given them clear, step-by-step instructions, make sure to tell them how much you appreciate their efforts when they’re finished.
As they grow older, gradually increase their level of responsibility. For example, by the age of five, your child may be able to complete tasks such as making their bed, setting the table, feeding the cat, and putting groceries away in the pantry.
Make your chores more enjoyable! For example, you might challenge them to pick up as many blocks as they can in 5 minutes. They might succeed.
2. Provide your child with a reasonable range of options.
Okay, so maybe your child isn’t quite ready to make all of his or her own decisions—perfectly it’s acceptable to tell your 3-year-old, “No, you absolutely cannot camp out on the roof,” for example. Giving your child a choice between two or three options, on the other hand, can help them feel more empowered to make their own decisions, which, in turn, can help them take on more responsibility for themselves.
Say something like, “Would you like a banana or an apple for a snack?” or “Would you like to wear a blue, green, or red shirt today?” for example.
How do I get my child to behave in public?
1. Make as many preparations as you can.
Discuss where you’re going and what you’ll be doing with your child before you leave the house with them. You should also discuss what you need from them before you leave. Also, try to anticipate any problems before they occur—for example, if you know your child gets cranky when he or she is hungry or tired, you might schedule errands for after naptime and bring snacks with you.
Something along the lines of, “We’re going to pick up your brother from school, but first we need to go into the building and speak with the teacher. You’ll have the opportunity to see what a typical classroom looks like! However, it is critical that we use our inner voices throughout the process, and I require that you remain right next to me at all times.”
How do you calm a screaming child?
Maintain your cool and figure out what your child requires.
Tantrums are typically thrown by small children out of sheer frustration. They may have a strong desire for something they are unable to obtain, or they may be having difficulty expressing themselves. They might even throw a tantrum simply because they’re tired, hungry, or in need of some sort of attention. Even if it’s difficult, take deep breaths and maintain a calm and even tone in your voice. Once you’ve determined whether or not your child requires assistance, consider whether or not it would be best to simply ignore them until they calm down.
Consider the following scenario: If your child is throwing a tantrum because they’re hungry, feed them something to eat. However, if they are attempting to attract your attention, it is best to simply wait it out. As an added bonus, if someone is upset because they are unable to do or have something they desire, try to divert their attention with something enjoyable or soothing.
If you believe your child is about to injure themselves or someone else during their tantrum, pick them up and hold them firmly, or take them to a quiet, safe place until they have calmed themselves down.
What should I do if my child bites or hits?
Assist them in developing more effective coping mechanisms.
Children who hit or bite are frequently doing so because they are experiencing strong emotions and are unsure of what to do next with their energy. You should intervene immediately if they are hitting or biting another child. Declare to them in a calm, firm voice that what they just did was unacceptable, but refrain from going into further detail until they have calmed down. Once the situation has passed, talk to your child about alternative approaches they could have taken to deal with the situation that did not involve the inappropriate behaviours.
To give an example, you could say, “I understand that you were upset that your sister had taken your toy, but it was not appropriate for you to hit her. What else could you have done to make her aware of your dissatisfaction?”
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