Raising Toddlers

It is important for parents to understand the developmental stages of toddlers and the physical and emotional needs associated with that stage.
By Chandra Valab

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Every parent wishes to promote a positive self-image. This develops as a process of experiencing parent’s loving, caring, supportive and teaching environment. It has to be consistent and encouraging. It is also important for parents to understand the developmental stages of their children and the physical and emotional needs associated with that stage. 

Toddlers need to experience amongst other things:

  • Consistent love and reassurances – like hugging them and saying you love them.
  • Praising them for their efforts- eg, putting their toys away.
  • Allowing them to safely explore their environment- encourages curiosity.
  • Giving simple choices like – would you like an apple or a pear? This encourages decision making.
  • Giving undivided attention when playing or listening to them- feel valued.
  • Providing simple boundaries – feel secure.

The perception of discipline needs to be challenged. The word disciple means a follower of a teacher. Latin word “disciplinare” means to teach. The manner of discipline is extremely important as we want to be mindful of our objectives, the lessons to be taught as well as the desired outcome. It is also important to recognise that it is a process within a caring, loving ,safe and controlled environment.

The word punishment means pain. Therefore, we need to challenge our thinking and past experiences and reflect upon our own experiences of how we ourselves were parented. It is helpful to keep that which is healthy and relevant today, and change that which is harmful. Very often, children react negatively to physical and violent “punishment” as they then focus on the actual violence and negative feelings around that, instead of learning from their mistakes. And so the actual message is lost! What and how we teach them is going to be their parenting style when they become parents themselves! It has to be consistent, have learning component, understanding of the behaviour, etc. ideally, aiming for self- discipline. Always keep in mind- “what is the lesson, what do I want to teach my child by doing this?” involve children in setting few rules, problem –solving and decision making, so that children have ownership of the issues.

Many studies show that punitive / punishment has a negative impact in so far as learning and corrective measures are concerned. Punishment brings about rebellion, feelings of revenge, embarrassment, breaking down confidence, self- pity, hatred etc. it does not contribute towards building children’s self- esteem and confidence.  The child focuses on the act of punishment itself and thus the actual message of correction and lessons to be learnt, is lost!

Some of damaging strategies are: Using violence, saying hurtful and damaging things, stereotyping behaviour, labelling children- like “stubborn” or “useless” child, not allowing children to have a voice, unreasonable rules and no participation in decision making at all.  

 Focus on the behaviour/ problem and not the child, thereby not taking it personally and not damaging the child’s self-esteem. Include the child in problem- solving and ideas, as well as creative thinking. Learn techniques to gain control over own emotions before disciplining.

Go to www.familylife.co.za to see when the next Family Life Centre workshop will be running.

   

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