1. Toddlers are biologically programmed to PLAY and to EXPLORE. Both are crucial in toddlerhood. Don’t squelch your little one’s curiosity, but instead provide a safe place for her to explore and begin teaching her what is off-limits through language, play, and empathetic limit-setting.
2. Don’t mistake independence for defiance. Some toddlers are more strong-willed and independent than others.
3. Develop a habit of seeing through your toddler’s eyes. From your perspective, you’re using your stern voice and redirecting him when he goes for the outlet. From his perspective, he’s learning cause and effect. “Every time I go near this thing, mommy changes her voice, jumps up, and scoops me away! How fun!” So, his smile as he heads toward the outlet again isn’t defiance, it’s a game. “You silly boy! You like for me to chase you! Outlets are dangerous, OUCH! You’d better run that way, I’m going to get you!!” Giggles!
3. Save your “danger voice” for the biggies. The average toddler hears the word “no” an astonishing 400 times a day, according to experts. If you use a big voice or yell out often, or use “no” a lot, this will soon lose effect. Your child may not be able to tell the difference between “NO! Stove hot!” and “NO! No cookie!” All she hears is “NO!” and if she hears it often, it doesn’t signal danger. Consider using “no” infrequently (Check out How to Say No Without Saying No), and use different words for actual danger, such as “DANGER!” or “STOP!” which are more likely to catch your child’s attention.
Loving Courageously When There’s Danger:
1. Please understand it is your responsibility to keep your child away from dangers such as hot stoves and streets; it is not your young child’s responsibility to know what is dangerous.
2. Refrain from smacking hands to keep them from touching things. Young children have tender hands and it stings much more than you might think. He is more likely to associate the sting on his hand with “mommy” than with the hot stove.
3. This is a time when it is perfectly okay to raise your voice to get attention. Again, this is why it is good to not get in a habit of raising your voice over small things. If you yell all the time, a raised voice is just typical and doesn’t say “warning!” to them.
4. Make your home child-friendly. Too often, we expect toddlers to deny their sense of curiosity and leave things alone when we say so, but remember that the part of their brain that houses logic and reasoning and still developing. So, going to the outlet or the kitchen cupboards isn’t naughty. They are exploring, and it’s our job to make sure they can explore safely.
5. Patiently teach your child about the dangers in his environment through play or books. As she gets older, she’ll trust you when you teach her about the dangers of the outside world.
Today’s challenge: Look for creative and gentle ways to teach your child about dangers in and out of the home.
Join me tomorrow for “Loving Courageously Through Bad Attitudes.”
Read the post that inspired the Love Courageously challenge.
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