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Monday, March 25, 2013

Giving Younger Children Tools for Behavior

I usually write about older children.  However, I spoke last night at a meeting with young parents who have both biological and adopted children, all quite young. It was just a delight to be with some awesome parents and their children!  Some of the parents in this group, I personally watched grow up from children to adults and now parents! :)

When talking for just one hour, it is impossible to share all you want to! There just isn't time to get past introducing concepts. 

So I wanted to share some detail in this post.

There were some wonderful questions.
Not spanking children does not mean not disciplining, just like spanking children does not necessarily mean they are being disciplined.
There are children who are regularly spanked who are also not disciplined.  (Of course, this was not true with the group I spoke with last night.)
Once again, I would like to repeat:  Discipline is not equal to punishment.
TRUE DISCIPLINE is going to be instructive. 

When dealing with young children, there is SO MUCH for them to learn about life. 
We can tell them what they have done wrong, and actually FORGET how to tell them what or HOW to do something right!

Instruction is so important at this age.  If we say John, "Don't hit your brother!"  But we forget to tell John what to do if his brother is really bothering him, we have only made him frustrated.
If we need to talk to John about hitting, we can then give him tools and ideas of what to do and equip him for the next time he is bothered by his brother.
This EMPOWERS him to be in control of himself and impulsivity  will be overtaken by thoughtful, planned behavior.

Let's go back to this scenario and consider a parent who uses spanking as a teaching tool.
John hit his brother.  He isn't supposed to. You have told him over and over not to.
So, John is in trouble.
You sit him down, tell him what he did wrong, and then spank him for the wrong.
He repents and is restored to relationship.

Let's try another way:
John hit his brother. You take him to the rocker, or sit him by you on the couch.  Give him a hug and tell him, "You must be very upset to have hit your brother!"  Let him tell you about it.  Listen carefully.  (even if you already know or saw what happened)

When he has calmed himself, you can talk about what happened according to John.  Then,
you can offer sympathy. I know that must have frustrated you when your brother broke your lego set apart. I know how long you worked on it.
He will feel your acceptance of his frustration. 
BUT THEN.... go a step further.
John, it isn't right to hit your brother. 
What do you think you could have done instead?
(He may not know!)  Accept that.
Offer some ideas.  Maybe you could come and get mom, and I can help?
OR  Maybe you can be sure to keep your lego creations away from your brother because he doesn't really know any better yet. He's only 3.
OR, next time brother gets into your legos, find a toy he likes and trade with him.
If you feel like you are going to hit your brother, put your hands in your pockets and come and see mama. I'll help you!
(Teaching the baby is another post) :)

EQUIP John with some ideas on how to handle his frustration.
When you see something coming up and you see John about to get frustrated again, you can simply say, "John, remember our talk!"   "Use your tools!" 
And then watch......
You will be surprised how much John REALLY learned.  It may take him some more practice, but he will be able to control himself because of his new found tools.  When he does well, give him a "HIGH FIVE"  or a "GREAT JOB JOHN!"

When John has been given the tools he needs to succeed, behaviors that you are trying to help him stop, will cease! And then new ones  will crop up. :) 
Thus is the life of a parent! :)

Another Scenario was about if it is EVER proper to swat a little one.
I would say no.  At the same time, I can understand how if a toddler were running towards the street, it might be a knee jerk reaction to rescue them and then a swat on the bottom.
Let's go back over this scenario.
If you are used to speaking in a louder volume to your toddler... "Suzy NO!"  "SUZY, I told you NO!"
Instead of using a gentle and quiet voice.... Suzy will learn to tune your voice out because that is how she is always spoken to, or spoken to often.
When she runs to the street and you say, "SUZY NO!"  She isn't going to understand the alarm in your voice, because she hears it regularly.
HOWEVER.... if you are in the HABIT of a tender, quiet voice, and she learns to trust and obey you through relationship;  when she then runs towards the street and you say "SUZY! NO!"
She'll be shocked and stop!
She will have heard the difference in your voice and it will get her attention!
It is then time for INSTRUCTION.... explaining to a toddler about the dangers of the street can be hard, but it can be done!  Explaining they could get VERY HURT... and you would be very sad, can be a good way to deter them.  But nothing deters them better than a close, watchful, eye and quick intervention,  because toddlers are just DANGEROUS little creatures! :)

*****It was mentioned that a foster family would yell and scream at kids and carry out long, enduring punishments because they couldn't "spank".****
I would like to cover this topic in my next post. :)
Stay tuned!


355 Mockingbird Hill said...

Loved this and looking forward to the coming posts!

MamaV said...

Thank you! I have a toddler boy (bio) and some correction without swatting has come pretty naturally to me, and some is tough. My toughest one is when he kicks me or puts his hands in the dirty diaper during a diaper change. Any good suggestions for how to deal with that? I have him practice putting his hands above his head, but it seems like sometimes nothing will deter him from getting into that diaper ;-)
Any suggestions are appreciated!

Erin Kaine said...

My son is extremely social and we are having a hard time with him understanding when it is not ok to talk.

Chris said...

So easy to see in others, much harder to actually put in practice. Maybe if I'd have 20 kids I'd finally get it right...or not.

Christie M said...

After raising 4 boys, they ALL seem to put hands down there, grab themselves and get hands dirty. The best way I came up with to prevent it was to give them something to hold or a special toy that they REALLY LIKE to only be used at diaper changing time. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. We working with our kids, and we as parents learning to give them correct tools to use. It's been a hard road so far with our respite care, but all kids are doing amazingly well. Sergey and I find your blog very helpful, and just want to say a huge thank you once again for posting and sharing. God Bless you

MamaV said...

Thanks ;-)

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