Communication is one of the most challenging things for people and in relationships. Communication with your toddler…maybe the hardest! I’m giving you some tips on better communication with your toddler that you can carry over through their childhood so you can both feel less stressed and maybe see less tantrums.
1. Do Not Ask Questions
Okay so you can ask questions, but not unless you are okay with the answer dictating what will happen next. Don’t ask you child “Are you ready to have lunch?” If they said, “no” to your question about them wanting lunch… then you literally just screwed yourself. You want to say, “We are having lunch.” They don’t get to decide the day, you are the boss!
2. Give Them Choices
So let’s stick with the lunch theme. You told them you are having lunch. Now give them some power back by giving choices. They might not be happy about it being lunch, but choices can redirect them to come and sit. “Do you want Mac N Cheese or a sandwich?” or “Do you want to sit in your booster seat or your highchair?” or “Do you want lunch on your blue plate or green plate.” This choice allows your child to feel they gained a little power back and are apart of the decision making.
3. Model language & behavior
When your child tells you, “Banana” say, “Mommy, I want banana.” When you hand then the banana model correct responses such as, “thank you.” You will be shocked how quickly they pick up on the modeling.
For the behavior side, Izzy was having a fit at gymnastics because it wasn’t her turn and just talking to her about it in that moment was not going to work. So I redirected her and modeled behavior that was more appropriate. I said, “Yay!” and clapped my hands for her friends as they went and we waited. She quickly followed along and by the 3rd time at gymnastics she started spontaneously clapping for her friends when it wasn’t her turn.
4. Be consistent
This is one of the most important things. Children thrive on routine and knowing what’s to come. Help reduce their anxiety by being consistent. That means give choices often! So maybe you told your child, they are about to do something they don’t like… however they know it’a not too bad because mom gives them choices too. Need an example? If you tell your child they need to eat lunch. (Maybe they are not ready to stop playing.) Give them choices of what to eat etc. as explained before. This also means being consistent with following through.
5. Follow Through
If you tell your toddler, “If you throw your food one more time, you don’t get dessert.” You better follow through! EVERYTIME! Guess what, your toddler will remember the one time you gave in and then test you to see if they can get you to give in again. 2 things I want you to think about. If your worried about your toddler melting down have a plan for redirecting their behavior. Pull out a toy and act silly with it and I guarantee they will want to hold the toy and get silly too. Another thing, let’s look deeper at this sentence, “If you throw your food one more time, you don’t get dessert.” Do you know what you just did there? You just put your child in control of the situation. Kind of like a parent says, “If you don’t stop, I’m pulling the car over.” Well if you say that, you better be in a place where you can pull over, because you just put the power of your actions in their hands! That’s important to think about when following through.
Alright guys you got this parenting thing! Now go conquer communication with your kids!