EDITOR'S NOTE: The following story is written from the perspective of a small child.
From the very beginning I am learning what is expected of me from those around me. You, my caregivers, have the challenging chore of teaching me behavior that is socially acceptable in today's society.
I learn by experimenting. Every action and reaction is a lesson learned. For example, if I throw my cereal bowl and you don't say anything, I guess it must be OK. If you respond by saying, "No, dishes stay on the table," I learn that you didn't like what I just did. I know it's a tough job for you and can sometimes be frustrating, so here are a few tips to help:
Limit my rules to those that are necessary and developmentally appropriate or I can't be successful no matter how hard I try.
It's important that I learn rules that keep me safe, rules like "stay out of the street" or "don't touch the hot stove" or I could hurt myself.
It's also important that I learn to respect property, within reason, so I know it is wrong to purposely break things.
Explain rules in simple terms and in positive ways and be ready to repeat them many times because I will forget.
Expect me to break a rule many times before I learn it or I will never know that "no" means "never."
Set rules that you can enforce or I will learn sometimes I don't need to follow them.
Don't use harsh punishment to enforce rules or I could be socially and emotionally damaged.
Never leave me alone in a dangerous area because sometimes I forget or don't have enough impulse control to stop myself.
Encourage me and reward me when I am successful because I really want your approval!
Remember, you are the most important person to me. You are my role model and hero. I am counting on you to guide and encourage me to grow up to be a person you can be proud of.
It's a huge responsibility and no one said it was going to be easy, but I know you can do it!
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Sources: "Terrific Toddlers (Who ever said that two-year-olds were terrible?)"; Hawaii Early Learning Profile ( HELP); and Partners in Parenting Education (PIPE).
Connie Maire works with The Huron County Help Me Grow program, which provides services that support children and their families through the first three years of life. It is a voluntary program for pregnant women, infants and toddlers (birth to 3) and their families. For more information, call (419) 663-4769. TOP HINTS TO SUCCESSFUL DISCIPLINE
Be consistent no means no today, tomorrow, and always.
Follow through don't say "no" if you mean "not unless you make more fuss than I can stand."
Stay calm yelling and arguing are examples of parent temper tantrums.
Be reasonable a 2-year-old may be expected to eat by himself but not expected to be neat.
Be positive say "walk" instead of "don't run."
Be a role model if junior sees you "misbehave," he will think it is OK for him.