How to Set Family Rules With A Toddler
I have a theory that when you don’t like a behaviour in someone else then often its an opportunity to reflect on that stuff within yourself and get all ‘changey’ with your ingrained personality faults. I think as a parent we need to remind ourselves often that bad parenting is a myth. The only bad parenting is ignorant parenting which is the thought that you have ever DONE ENOUGH. That there is NO MORE LEARNING you can do. That’s crap. If there was a manual for parenting it would have been burnt long ago along with the “parents aren’t people” book.
Background on the Toddler Deal.
I have a 2 year old, known affectionately as Summer Love, who likes to scream at me often and is overly defiant, positively spirited and generally likes her dad WAY more than me. To say I struggle with parenting her is an understatement.
She likes to blame random family members for everything – “TOM DID IT” were her first words. It’s cute but totally reflecting her inability to take blame even when she clearly did it.
Sometimes it’s like living with a ticking bomb. What mood will she be in. Happy? Sad? Screamy? (yes- I have learnt that “screamy” is a mood)
So I did a survey with my husband and asked him if he saw these things in me. Husband said No but smiled on the inside (I could see). This got me thinking.
The Reality of Parenting a Mighty Toddler
The fact is I realise as a mum of a spirited daughter, who is much like me, that if I don’t do something SOON then she is going to go from Mighty Toddler to Terrible Teenage Crazy Person.
With a little human this small traditional methods of discipline aren’t going to work. For our older kids we are developing some family rules (blog to come) – and thats fine- they help write them, they set the consequences- its almost like an adult type contract. Toddlers don’t have this sort of capacity. I get that. Its annoying but there isn’t much I can do for a couple of years and I am not sure any of us will survive this period of time without some change FAST. So this is what I have decided to do.
- I am going to hug her more. WAY more-Infact I am thinking of a sticker chart but am aiming for 50 hugs. She may push me away but everytime she does I will tell her I love her. I will love her madly in spite of her resistance.
- I am going to find time every day for her. One on One. Outdoors. To show her something magical in nature. I am going to be an inspiring parent, giving her moments and memories.
- When she gets all screamy I am going to think about the last time I got screamy and how that must have made her feel and try not to be as screamy next time. I am going to look at myself first and her second.
- I will let her have bad moments and bad days. I will remember I have bad moments and bad days. I will respect her emotional learning.
- I am going ask her how she is feeling every morning. Take some time to tell her what we plan to do that day. I want her to be prepared for the days going on – paint her a picture. She will be respected.
- I am going to give her some jobs. Sure she is 2 but even she can be chief egg collector. I want her to feel part of the family, part of my day, part of the team. Part of something. She will always feel a part of something.
- I won’t tolerate disrespect. Aside from the blinding tantrums that cloud her judgement I will not tolerate disrespect. I will honour her by explaining that our family doesn’t do disrespect and put her in a time out to have a bit of a think. I will talk her through that. She will be expected to try
- I will give us both a break We are both learning and learning is HARD
- I will give us both plenty of rewards. When we have a good day and she has a good day I will thank her for that and give her a cuddle and read her an extra book. I will reinforce her good behaviour by thanking her.
- I will not feel bad that she asks for her Daddy to change her nappy and kiss her boo boos. I won’t make her feel bad for my issues. I will feel grateful she loves her dad and he loves her too.
Remember, that the spirited, mighty toddler will be your biggest challenge but has the potential to be your most spectacular masterpiece.
Written by Ngaire, Owner and Editor of Brisbane Kids. Mums of 3. Not a parenting expert.