I recently mentioned a toddler class that I am taking and wanted to share a bit of what I am learning (from the first 2 weeks), there are 2 more weeks of the class that are still to come for an additional post later! I guess I should start by saying that in the past few weeks we have changed churches. We ADORE our old church but felt God strongly calling our family on a new journey and to a new church home. At our new church they are offering classes on Sunday evenings and the two that I signed up for were “spiritual warfare” and “raising toddlers”. Our teacher is explaining how scripture can be applied to the book “Happiest Toddler on the Block” and it has been amazing! I thought maybe I could share a few things and my thoughts on them and how they relate to the way we do things here.
We desperately want our kiddos to feel freedom to learn, explore and grow within rules and structure. I believe that everything can be fun and exciting for your little ones.
1. Time in Attention: it is important that each child has 5-10 minutes of just one on one time with each parent throughout the day.
This is big for families with multiple little ones. Chris and I take each child for 10-15 minutes each day and do something just us. It can be a simple walk down to the end of the block and back. Rocking a child and reading a story one on one. Something sweet and simple just the two of you to fill up their little tank! You can also do longer activities. I always take one of the three with me if I am running somewhere real quick and then we might stop for a quick ice cream together before we get back!
2. Behind their Back: It’s probably obvious that you should never say something negative about your little one when they are in ear shot or can hear you. Or really ever. BUT something that they LOVE is hearing you praise them “behind their back”. Chris and I love love this one! We do it all the time, it’s a great example of positive reinforcement.
“Hey Casey, did you know that Aiden put away all his toys today without me asking??”
“He did?! Are you serious?! That was so kind of him to do all of that work! And no one had to tell him?? Amazing!!”
3. Ask toddler to help you with tasks. They love this. They love little roles and jobs that make them feel big and important. It’s also a great way to take ten minutes to clean the kitchen for the afternoon but also involving them. Even if it takes a bit longer or isn’t done perfectly, this will help build their little confidence!
4. Play Silly: Sing a song wrong and let them correct you. “Happy Elephant to you….” // We do this and Aiden hysterically laughs every time. “No mom!!!!! It’s happy birthday!!!!” Ohhhhhh, you are so right!!!! Thank you for helping me!
5. Practice areas that they struggle in.
If one of our kiddos responds incorrectly to something, I normally will say real quietly and calmly (I get down on eye level with them). “Hey I know you are very passionate about this. Could you help me? Can you practice asking for that the correct way?”
An example our teacher gave was that her son would always take off running as soon as she would drop her hand from holding it. She would go a few times a week in her backyard where it was safe and say “Okay, lets pretend we are in the grocery store parking lot about to get some food, I need to grab my keys// I am going to drop your hand now, what should you do?” – She said through practice in a safe environment he eventually learned!
** this is so important: often times toddlers start throwing a tantrum because you have not identified their emotion.
Example: You are at the park, you have given all the ” we are leaving in 5 minutes”…. you say it is now time to go and they start melting down. Usually you start going into these long explanations which are going over their heads because they are screaming and kicking. Try this.
Grab them, say ” You’re mad. pause You’re mad. pause You love the park.”
they stop, say yes!
you say ” I know you love the park! We will come back later this week”.
Something about validating that emotion helps!
6. Plants seeds of kindness through fairytales. In our home, we can make up fun stories about a blonde boy who loved dinos and his sister who loves tigers and they are traveling to a far away jungle! They both want the same boat paddle! The boy was so kind and had such a beautiful heart he let the girl use the paddle first and they shared! Wasn’t that so nice of him??
Using these fake stories you are planting seeds of kindness!
7. Your children may have a quality that comes across negative right now but it is a quality, a gift that God gave them and they just do not know how to “channel” it yet. Don’t put that quality down! Talk to them about it in a positive way as you try and teach them how to channel it properly.
Bossy : A Leader
Defiant : Brave
Picky Eater : Discerning (knows what they like)
Shy : Careful
Stubborn : Tenacious
Whiny : Outspoken
“Wow, I know that you are being so careful right now and that is a beautiful quality! But you know what? It’s super sweet to introduce yourself to new friends. Show them that wonderful smile of yours!”
8. Never make unfair comparisons to siblings or other children. Every child is different. don’t compare.
9. Have fun. If there is something they don’t want to do (brush their teeth) try and make it fun! Be really silly and start singing a song and brushing your teeth and see how quickly they want to join.
10. Compliment them constantly. Be positive. Shower them with Love.
Okay so I made this last one up myself ;). I believe in this so much. We praise our kids constantly throughout the day. I pump positive reinforcement into their little lives 24/7. It makes a HUGE difference. The first week at our new church Aiden’s teacher looked at me and said “You sure have a lovebug on your hands”. YES. He knows love because he feels it constantly.
11. Don’t apologize on their behalf. How many times are we in a store or at a friends house and to save face we apologize on their behalf. ” I am so sorry he is acting this way…. yada yada”
This is not good. You can crush a spirit with criticism, sarcasm and ridicule.
12. Exaggerations also kill the spirit. ” You never do this…. You always do this…”
13. Give yourself Grace. Us mamas, us parents- we need to give ourselves grace!
Okay More to come!!!