I wonder how many times the average toddler hears the word “No” in their typical toddler little life. I mean, they need to hear the word “No” to learn, right? I agree with that.

They need us to teach them what’s ok and not ok to do, what’s ok and not ok to touch, what’s ok and not ok to eat, or say, or throw, and so on. Otherwise, how do they learn? You eat your food – you don’t throw it, you throw a ball – you don’t eat it… They need us to help set limits and boundaries and to keep them safe. But I’ve listened to how people talk to toddlers these days. Kiddos who are quickly learning to explore their environment and are curious to use all their senses as a means of learning about things and the most common word I hear is “No!” or some variation on that theme: Stop that! A-Ah! Uh-uh! Tisk-Tisk! No-No! etc. In some families, and I cringe just thinking about it, it seems like all the child ever hears is “No!” and never a “Yes.” They get the “time-out” but never the “time-in.”

“Time-out” gets used a lot but why aren’t people talking about (and using) a “Time-IN?” – which in my opinion is extremely important when you are trying to teach what is appropriate and what is not appropriate.

Behavior management is a hot issue. I get asked all the time to help parents extinguish undesirable behaviors and I have to say, the majority of parents look at me like I’m from Mars when I ask about their “time-ins.” To me, a “time-in” is letting the child know what they are doing right, it lets them know that you are pleased by a certain behavior and, believe it or not, your little pumpkin would rather please you and see you happy over displeasing you and seeing you angry – trust me on this one.

So, if it’s a “No,” for example when they are standing up in their highchair or throwing blocks at your head, shouldn’t you somehow communicate to them that you like it when they are seated on their bottom or playing with blocks appropriately? It could be just your smile and an encouraging nod from you while you are at the kitchen sink that is their “time-in” indicator. That might be enough – or a comment such as, “I like how you are sitting on your bottom” with that smile and nod in their direction. Perhaps you join them on the floor and play with blocks together. These gestures go a long way in helping shape positive behaviors in children. So, what behavior do you wish you could change in your child? And what do you want them to do instead of that negative behavior? If you don’t know, chances are your child doesn’t either. Think about what you would like to see them doing, teach it to them and then praise them often when they do it – in whatever way encourages them to keep up the good work. Positive praise from you might be clapping for them, smiling at them, telling them specifically what you like that they are doing, thumbs up, a big “YAY!” Whatever is developmentally appropriate for your child at that time and whatever it is that individually motivates him or her. Words of advice though, try staying away from tangible rewards like food, toys and money as long as possible because you’ll find these rewards need to increase overtime whereas positive praise and encouragement from you, does not.

I invite you to contact me if you have some questions, want some ideas, or need some support regarding behavioral challenges. With the right help, I know you and your child can succeed!  😀
I’m here to help, but the first step is yours.

Twitter: @DeniseCarbon