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Toddlers learn from what they see and feel, more than from what they hear. Hence, they can sense your frame of mind while you are communicating with them, and if that is not positive, those are the cues they pick up. Studies, over the years, have shown that children of positive parents enjoy better physical and physiological health.
Staying positive when you have to get a two-year-old ready for school in the morning, while packing lunch for the partner and self, and all this in time to catch the 8 am company pick-up can be a daunting task indeed. In the midst of all this, ‘positive’ is the last word most would think of associating with this daily battleground. Yet, it isn’t impossible!
Here are some tips from experts on how we can ‘converse’ with our toddlers better, to make growing up a more positive experience for them and us.
This is far easier said than done – most of us know that. And yet, it is the most effective tool towards the end result we desire. Many of us carry our work-related or other stress to the time we spend with our little ones, and they sense it immediately. Children are far more perceptive than we give them credit for. They can sense your tension, and resultantly, turn cranky themselves. They can feel that they do not have your full attention and, naturally, demand it.
Don’t be surprised. This isn’t a word exclusively dedicated to women. By now, you are aware (from past experience) that even infants have their own opinions. It’s just that they can’t do much about it given their limited mobility. Toddlers, on the other hand, are mobile, can say ‘no’ and make their dissent known vociferously. Let them be the judge of what they would like to do and not do in some matters, depending on the safety of the issue at hand. Let them know that their opinion counts too, so that at the times when you need to negotiate, the resistance is relatively lesser.
3. ‘Play’ Out your Daily Tasks
Most of us hate repetition, as will the child. The same tasks followed in the exact same manner every passing day will make the child resent it, especially since they do not know the relevance of it. Make the tasks that the child is engaged in on a daily basis, fun. For example, fly them to the bathtub, make a song and dance out of brushing your teeth together, eating can become an exploration with their toy friends. Again, the fun element in all these otherwise mundane tasks will add excitement for the child and reduce resistance.
4. The Reason Behind the Behaviour
Try and understand the reason why your toddler is doing what she is. Be it throwing away a toy, emptying the milk bottle or hitting you. Children are trying to communicate through every gesture and action. It is up to us to understand the reason and take steps accordingly. Reasons may be as varied as seeking attention, genuinely not liking what is placed on the plate in front of them or just frustration at her own inability to communicate exactly what she wants.
5. Give them an Alternative, not Just ‘No’
Many parents make the mistake of telling their toddlers what is off-limits without pointing out to an alternative for them to keep themselves occupied. While you have told her that the remote control to the television is out of bounds, show her the window that will offer her the view of passing cars, people and the occasional dog and cat. Spend some time with her on this and move away once she is hooked to the interesting happenings outside the window.
Stay positive! The experience will be much more enriching – for your child and you.