The problem is that I don’t really agree with a lot of behaviour modification techniques.
I don’t agree with naughty steps/chairs/corners, because I don’t believe that any child will sit on their naughty step and think about what they did wrong. I believe that at S’s age, they don’t necessarily understand what they did wrong, even if it’s the third time they’ve done it. I think kids mostly sit on their naughty step either thinking Mummy doesn’t love me any more or – as they get older – argh I hate Mummy, she’s so mean to me.
- Remember I wrote that post about the idea of Tooth Brushing? This book actually suggests a similar thing with toddlers, where you sit down at the end of the day and reflect on all the great things that have gone on. I started doing it with S as I cleaned her teeth, and she seems to really respond to it. It helps us both to focus on the positive aspects of our time together, so even if she’s just had a massive tantrum and thrown her dinner on the floor, we end the day on a high note. The book also suggests “hand checks” where you give your child a little mark on their hand with a pen, for every time they are helpful or kind or do as they are asked – then sit with them at the end of the day and remember how they earned them all.
- “Could you help Mummy?” S is often disgruntled if I’ve laid her on the floor and forced her to get dressed, or to have her nappy changed. I find that I can help her out of this mood by saying “would you put your pjyamas in the wash basket for me please?” or “shall we put the nappy in the wash bucket together?” She helps by putting things into the bin or by fetching me a book to read to her. I suppose it makes her feel like a grown up and like she has some control over whether she helps or not. Actually this reminds me of when I was a teenager, and my younger sisters used to beg me to give them “jobs” to do. She can be getting into all sorts of mischief, but if I say “S, could you put your socks in the wash basked please?” She happily picks them up and runs to the kitchen with them!
- Magic Breathing: I love this idea. You teach your toddler to take deep breaths; you sit quietly and use your hand moving up and down to show your deep breaths going in and out, encouraging your child to join in. Once they’ve got it, you can sit with them and do some magic breathing every day. It works as a great time together, but also when they’re getting a bit toddler-ish you can say “let’s do some magic breathing together” and hopefully the deep breaths will calm them down. I’ve only just started doing this one with S but I think it’s a great way to start the idea of meditation in children.
- Allowing a choice: I let S choose her top and her socks each morning. If we’re buying clothes for her, I give her a choice between two things. At first she didn’t really understand the question, but now she knows exactly what I’m asking, and quickly decides what she’s going to wear that day. If we’re out and I don’t need to do anything specific, I let her choose which direction we go in.
- The last one is really simple but I think it’s something we all forget: listening properly. At the moment S does a lot of babbling, but only a few of her words make sense to me. On the other hand though, she is learning words really quickly. It’s easy for me to just respond to her chatter with the standard “oh really? Wow!” and so on, without actually paying attention, but often when I take the time to stop and listen, it’s fairly clear what she’s after and we work it out together. For example, the other day she was saying what I thought was “boo” but then she started grabbing at her nappy – and then she took the lid off the box where I keep her nappies. She’d done a poo.