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Toddler 101: How to Reinforce "Good" Behavior
Imagine an evening at home, your children are playing in the living room while you cook dinner for the family. Parents don’t normally check on their kids and say, “Oh! How nice of you to play and take care of yourselves!”.
Now let’s imagine another scenario. While you are cooking, you can hear your children fighting – screaming and crying. Your instinct is to run into the living room and take in the scene. You say, “You two! Please stop fighting and leave mommy alone!”.
What do these two scenes tell you? Rather, we see the bad instead of the good. As people have mentioned before, we remember the bad mistakes made by others rather than the right actions.
The difference between reactive and proactive parenting
Parents tend to be more reactive than proactive. Therefore, it can be tiring and annoying for some.
· Reactive is when an individual makes a decision only after the event has occurred. A type of parenting where the child’s behavior is controlled by following what the parent wants.
· There will be more negative results in Reactive. For example, in the second scenario, a parent yells at their children in stress when they are arguing. Patterns of reactivity are when you say “Stop. No, don’t do that!”.
· Proactive is an individual’s ability to make/plan decisions before an event occurs. A parent becomes active in these examples: creating a meal plan or telling the child to take a bath after 10 minutes.
· This is when you give your child a choice and make him/her aware of the consequences of the action.
What is the recommended parenting style? And how can you apply it? Proactive parenting gives both parents and children the opportunity to develop leadership and understanding.
Factors to consider for proactive parenting:
1. Identification of the child’s behavior
Your child gets upset in the middle of a social gathering. What will you do?
A. Take him out of the scene, distract him, and/or put him to sleep while showing frustration.
B. Leave the scene and ask what happened while you were observing your child.
There will always be a reason behind your child’s behavior. How much you pay attention will help you understand the situation. Learn to understand your child’s emotions more.
Once you redeem your toddler, you will:
A. Choose the type of clothes they are wearing and put them on immediately.
B. Let your child choose the clothes and encourage them to help you get dressed.
A child will only become independent if you allow him to. A toddler wants to explore his abilities and one of them is pulling his panties up or down or choosing his clothes. Don’t let your child depend on you.
3. Stop being reactive
Your child becomes violent towards his sister. What will you do?
A. You pull him away, point your finger and say, “Hitting your sister is wrong! Go take a time out”.
B. She asks him why he became aggressive and if this is the right way to express his anger.
As a parent, you should be able to see both sides of the story. Just because you saw your child hitting his sibling doesn’t mean you should scold him. The best way to solve this is to talk and make him realize that what he did was not right.
3 C’s in parenting
Being a parent has its flaws, we don’t realize the impact of our actions during a heated event. It is human nature to be impulsive and expressive. But once you become a parent, you have to control this impulsiveness and rash emotions.
The 3 C’s help parents reinforce good behavior towards their children. So that you, as a parent, understand why your child behaves “this way” and how you can cope with “this” behavior.
Every afternoon little rob and his parents go to the park. But when he does, the kid has violent outbursts, so he decides to leave earlier than expected.
Why does your child misbehave and when does it happen? Being aware of your child’s “triggers” can help you deal with them and/or guide them to act in the right way.
How do you interpret that in the script? Maybe rob didn’t sleep or doesn’t like to play outside? The answer is the child’s sensitivity to the environment. Toddlers show displeasure when the temperature/weather makes them uncomfortable.
Imagine yourself in business attire commuting on a hot day with sweat running down your neck. Most people would be in a bad mood because of the weather and clothes.
This is what the child feels and they express it by crying or throwing tantrums. The best solution to combat this is to wear comfortable, appropriate clothing.
Celine, a 20-month-old toddler, tends to hit and scream at her parents when she doesn’t get what she wants. What should Celine’s parents do?
When a child does something new, such as crying out their displeasure, adults will find it an adorable act. But if you show how cute you find it, it will make the child repeat the behavior. You should set a limit and find a way to turn bad behavior into good.
In this case, find out what behavior your child currently has. Then consider whether it will have a positive effect in the long run. If not, find an alternative option (or the behavior you want your child to have).
Lydia and George, Bob’s parents, struggle to instill good manners in their son. When Bob throws and wastes food, his parents resort to feeding him.
How do you know when a behavior is too much? Are you afraid of “punishing” your child? We all know that if you constantly ignore a behavior, the child will adapt to it. Ignoring is a way of telling your child, “It’s okay! Keep doing what you’re doing!”.
Toddlers can understand you through actions and simple words. Lydia and George shouldn’t have taken the easy way out, instead they had to tell Bob that it wasn’t right. Let the child realize that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.
How? One way is a time limit, but before that analyze the reason for his behavior. Maybe all you had to do was cut back on the food. If you do these 3 C’s of parenting, you will be more aware of your next step.
Air conditioning power
Reinforcing good behavior will never be easy, it’s not as easy as snapping your finger. Do you know Operant Conditioning? A theory created by BF Skinner where there are two factors; reinforcement and punishment.
Operant conditioning explains the likelihood of behavior change. It will be either a reinforcing change (incitement to action) or a punishment (getting rid of the attitude).
For reinforcement to be successful, you must have a reward. Meanwhile, to be able to eliminate the behavior, you have to enforce the consequence.
Cynthia (24 months) does not like to eat vegetables, she would start to cry or play with her food.
A reinforcing change is when you tell Cynthia that if she eats her vegetables, she can play for an extra 10 minutes before bed.
But if Cynthia continues to misbehave, you’ll have to make her face the wall instead of playing. So how effective is it? If you use the right technique, the behavior you want will emerge.
Always remember that you should not always give a reward. The point of a reward is to instill the behavior you want. Once you see that your child has no trouble adapting to the change, you can slowly eliminate the reward.
As for punishment, it should be your last resort. If you have done everything from understanding your child and negotiating, you can use punishment.
Toddlers will be brave, you will always hear their cries of independence. There is nothing wrong with a child wanting to try an activity on their own. But you have to keep an eye on your child, see if he’s on his best behavior.
To reinforce good behavior, you need to praise them and show them that you appreciate them. For example, your child gives you his plate after eating. You can say, “Wow! You’re a big boy now, thanks for helping mom/dad.”.
What the child needs is attention, give him the opportunity to learn the feeling of winning and losing. Let them know that mistakes are normal. But let your child know that just because he failed, it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t try again.
As most studies mention, good behavior is learned and not an inborn trait. With the correct use of reinforcement and punishment, you will notice major changes in your toddler’s attitude.
Motivating your child to do simple activities in the right way will lead to good behavior.
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