Discipline for a Toddler

There is a very interesting chorus being chanted at my house.  It goes, “No no no no no no no!”  Sometimes it’s loud, sometimes it’s soft, sometimes it starts small and gets louder – Royce has really taken his chanting abilities to a new level.  It would be impressive, but mostly it’s an echo of what the little guy has been hearing.  Usually in response to something that will turn into a GIANT mess or hurt a little man – and clearly one “no” isn’t working for me – thus the multiple “no’s” in the chant!

Royce playing peaceably!

Royce is my good little boy and he does listen eventually, but lately we’ve seen him with some other kids his age, and I have been impressed at what I’ve seen in other kids, and slightly disappointed in how I’ve been with Royce.  It has me thinking I should rethink my discipline style.

I had a visit with my lovely neighbor Berit, her son Roy and daughter Vera.  Roy is 7 months older than Royce, and Vera will be 7 months older than our second son when he is born.  I was nervous about Royce with Roy – Royce is a bruiser and a bit aggressive and boisterous, and Roy is a sweet, shy boy with wonderful manners that he learned from his parents.

First thing Royce does after we are all settled in the yard?  Run up to cute 6-month-old Vera in her car seat and I think, oh no he’s going to smack her or poke her in the eye!  I geared up in usual fashion, “no, Royce, gently!”  He surprised me, he gently touched her tummy, and what did Berit do?  She said, “Good job Royce – you are being very gentle, and her body is a good place to touch.”  She told him other nice places to touch the baby would be her arms and legs as she demonstrated a gentle stroke, and then said, “but be careful of her face.”  It was SUCH a positive statement – it made Royce feel good and let him know well in advance what was acceptable and what wasn’t.

It made me think – rather than hollering “no no no no no” next time he proceeds to dump half a bottle of water on the table, perhaps I could give him a positive option – such as, “we don’t pour water on the table, but we could pour it in a cup!”  This kind of positive redirection will take a lot of practice on my part (and of course, my partner in crime, Marty!) and a lot of patience.  Neither is my strong suit, but I’m willing to work on it for both of my kiddos!

Seeing Roy with his baby sister, and how well he listened – and as always listened – to his mom impressed me, and I know that both he and Vera will grow into well adjusted, fair, like-able adults.  I hope that by refocusing my energy into positive re-direction, and less yelling of “NO” will help Royce turn into a child who listens well, feels good about himself, and learns that even if he can’t do certain things, there are always other options!

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