To my surprise and excitement, I was given an amazing opportunity to participate in BFBN week. This group of bloggers was my lifeline when Jameson was first born, and they continue to be a huge support to this day.
This week we are talking about disciplining for attitude. You may wonder what exactly disciplining for attitude has to do with a pre-toddler. Well, it has a lot to do with it actually. I am a firm believer in setting boundaries and teaching consequences from the get go.
Jameson is one year old this week, and we’ve been working on teaching early obedience for several months already. So stick with me and let’s explore both why and how you can actively nurture a positive attitude in your pre-toddler using correction.
1. Is correction appropriate for a pre-toddler?
When we hear the world correction, we may initially think of the word punishment. Punishment at such a young age isn’t appropriate because pre-toddlers and toddlers aren’t old enough to understand right from wrong. However, correction also means to teach, and pre-toddlers and toddlers are capable of learning basic cause and effect consequences through gentle correction and re-direction from approximately 9 months of age.
Babywise II affirms this idea, explaining that for pre-toddlers and toddlers “the purpose of correction is to restore a child back to the right pathway of behavior, because he is heading in the wrong direction. This can be done through encouragement, and it can be done by using age-appropriate consequences; but it should not be done with punishment.”
I believe this concept is easily applied when guiding and teaching your child to maintain a positive attitude. As parents, we have the power to use consequences to encourage and grow a positive attitude in pre-toddlers.
2. Shouldn’t a pre-toddler be allowed to just be a baby?
Pre-toddlers are capable of much more than we often give them credit for. I think it’s all too commonplace to say, “Oh he’s just a baby. He doesn’t understand.” I think if you start teaching from a young age, your child will start to learn from a young age. As parents it’s our job to guide and teach. So why wait to reach a certain age before guiding and teaching? Starting early enables parents to train now and build on that teaching over time, rather than re-teaching later.
3. How does this actually benefit the pre-toddler and parent?
Teaching your child to have a happy spirit and positive attitude will make a dramatic difference in your day to day life from the early days and for years to come. Positive attitudes feed off one another. If I have a positive attitude and teach my son to have a positive attitude, then our attitudes will feed off each other, creating an exponentially more positive environment both in and out of the home.
You may start to notice how outings are more enjoyable and how people comment on your child’s positive and pleasant nature. Jameson is often recognized for his happy spirit. Some of this may be innate, but I know that there is also a good part that is due to our nurturing and encouragement of attitude. I’m not saying this to boast. Jameson is far from perfect. I’m saying this because these are the results of our efforts. And it’s paying off immensely.
4. How exactly do you use correction to develop a positive attitude in a pre-toddler?
One way to develop a positive attitude from the beginning is to approach your pre-toddler when he demonstrates a good attitude. Let me explain. When your child wakes from sleep, go to him during a moment he demonstrates a good attitude. Sometimes I wait outside the door for a few brief minutes to see if J will settle a bit. If he doesn’t I go into his room and stand by his crib. I may sing a song and smile at him to encourage him to have a happy spirit. He is usually laughing and smiling within a few minutes, often times even less time.
Does this mean you should let your distressed child cry until he is happy? Definitely not. However, if my son is whining or fussing, waiting a few minutes and offering the opportunity for a happy spirit can truly go a long way in encouraging a positive attitude.
You also tend to use this idea when getting my son from independent playtime or out of a highchair or a car seat. For example, Jameson recently starting fussing and protesting over independent playtime. Using this technique, I made an effort to encourage a positive attitude before picking him up. Within about a week he was back on track loving and enjoying independent playtime. This really helped encourage my son to have a good attitude.
As parents we can also discourage a negative attitude in our pre-toddler. I recently wrote about this in my post about helping children cope with runaway emotions. If your child is whining or fussing because of a boundary or a correction, you can provide reassurance without rescuing your child. For example, if your child is crying because you won’t allow him to play with a remote control or some other off limits item, you can provide reassurance by sitting next to the child and offering encouragement. This is what I like to call reassurance without rescue.
My final suggestion for nurturing a positive attitude in your pre-toddler is to lead by example and maintain a positive attitude as a parent. Children are always observing and watching us as a way to learn about the world. If you are negative, angry or grumpy all the time, your child will quickly pick up on this and start believing this is how people should act. Like I’ve said many times before, it’s important to ask yourself, “Are you the adult you want your child to be?” If you want your child to be an adult with a positive attitude then you have to be one yourself first.
So what are the take away messages here? It’s never too early to start establishing boundaries and consequences to shape and grow a positive attitude in a young child. Pre-toddlers aren’t just pre-toddlers, they are impressionable little people, awaiting our teaching and guidance. It’s never too early to start teaching your child the importance of a good attitude. There are many ways to teach your child this important skill, and one of the most important ways is to be a positive parent yourself.