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Toddlers are known for their disobedience, strong will and throwing fits to get their way. As a parent, our job may feel like an overwhelming feat that you may not be even sure of how to get from point A to point B without losing your mind. Learning how to build obedience in the formative years is crucial for not only for the parents, but especially for the child.
Experiencing four completely different personality as toddlers to raise, I will tell you that teaching obedience is NOT that hard. If you give your full attention to teaching obedience, you will have a child that ‘knows right from wrong’ and understands that with each choice there are consequences. Consequences come in beautiful packages if they chose the right decision and consequences come in undesirable packages if the wrong action was chosen.
How to Build Obedience in the Formative Years:
- Both parents and all care givers need to be on the same page. A toddler will quickly learn that adults divided are easy prey! You remember going to one parent and receive a ‘no’ and deciding that the other parent will probably say ‘yes’, which they would. Children learn quickly who the ‘yes’ parent is and will begin to manipulate that parent.
- Consequences need to be the same from both parents and all care givers. A toddler understands the natural world of consequences from a very early age, even before they say their first words. We teach them this within the first months of their lives. If they cry, they get held, feed, changed or played with. If they throw a toy or pacifier, it will get picked up regardless of how many times they throw it. If they get dirty, we clean their hands, face, or the whole body. Reason is something an infant is able to do naturally. We, as parents and caregivers, are doing a child a disfavor when they begin to walk or reach that toddler age and we ignore this knowledge of consequences and forbid it in our parenting or caring for a child. If all the adults who are responsible for a toddler can communicate the appropriate consequences (remember there are both beautiful and undesirable) for the actions of toddlers and be prepared BEFORE the actions present themselves, this stage of teaching obedience can be easier than you expected. “United we stand, divided we fall” is a perfect slogan for the toddler stage. (consider sharing this post with the care givers, grandparents, other family members, so all loved ones can grow together for the sake of the child)
- Visual Aid is the Perfect Tool for Teaching Obedience. When you begin this process, give your child the beautiful consequence of praise. When a toddler disobeys, you will have all ready decided the consequence for him and can quickly administer the consequence. No praise, just the understanding of why it was a wrong choice or ask them why it is wrong and then follow through on the consequences.
- Restoring a Toddler after Disobedience. This step is CRUCIAL to all of us, especially a toddler or child of a young age. If you do step 3 consistently, administrating both beautiful and undesirable consequences, the toddler will show quick steps toward obedience. However you must never skip the step of restoration after a undesirable consequence was administered. To restore a toddler, a child or an adult, is simply allowing the individual the opportunity to confess their disobedience, explain why it was wrong and allow them to apology to the person wronged. The person wronged must allow the individual the opportunity to express this part of learning and in return the apology needs to be accepted and then praise should be given for doing the right thing. Once this step is complete, move forward and do NOT dwell on it.
- Use Obedience and Disobedience in your Vocabulary. Our children have heard me say again and again, “You can choose to obey or disobey”. Then they also hear me state which I see them doing, with either a praise for choosing the right thing or correction for choosing the wrong thing. The more we use the words in communicating with our children, the faster they will begin to understand what is expected of them, and what it looks like in their world.
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