Are these words you long to hear??
Wow, your toddler or your children are so well behaved…
What if I told you that it can be a reality….no really. It can.
But before I even get started, let me tell you that it will take a lot of hard work and possibly a few tears shed.
It will NOT BE EASY.
Yet, the reward outweighs the hard work by a thousand percent.
This sets the tone for your child’s life.
And I am not being dramatic here.
The antics and bad behaviors of a 2-year-old will not just magically disappear at the age of 12.
They will manifest differently, yes, but the heart will remain unchanged.
I am often told how well-behaved my children are. People in awe will look at me and say you are just so lucky.
And I often respond back, I worked hard and spent a lot of time on training my children.
Yes, I will get strange looks, but it is the truth. I put time and energy into shaping my children’s hearts and behaviors.
A quick disclaimer:
My children are not perfect, nor do I ever expect them to be. They and I make mistakes daily. Yet, on a regular basis, my kids are well-behaved and this is how!
TOP THREE WAYS TO HAVE WELL-BEHAVED TODDLERS
#1 CONSISTENCY IS KEY
This is the absolute number one, top dog, no way around it way to reach your children’s heart.
Kids thrive on consistency.
This does not mean you have to follow the same routine every day.
Consistency means that what you say is what you mean and that you will follow through. EVERY TIME.
This is where it gets tiring.
You have to watch what you are saying because you have to back up what you say.
Your three old is throwing a massive tantrum about not getting what he wanted in his sippy cup.
FIRST STOP: There is a simple solution to this problem. If your toddler just said I would have rather had juice than milk, tt would be an easy fix.
WHAT DO MOST PARENTS DO: Grab the juice as fast as they can and give the child what they want so they do not have to listen to the whining.
WHAT IS THIS TEACHING: The toddler knows that all he has to do is whine to get what we want.
Now I know that is now what you want to teach your toddler, so you need a plan.
First, you calmly say I am happy to give you juice, but you need to ask without whining.
The toddler will still whine (trust me! – I have been through this with five children!).
So when the toddler continues to whine, your plan is whatever form of discipline you and your spouse have decided is right for your family.
In this situation, our toddler would spend time in his crib until he stopped whining. THIS IS KEY. Do not cave in. If the toddler is still whining, he does not come out of the crib.
Once the whining stops, we would talk about the situation, and if he calmly asked for juice, he would receive it.
If he whined, then we would start the whole process over again.
WHAT DID THIS METHOD TEACH?
That whining and throwing a fit will not work.
Can you see how universal this will be?
If you never give into your child’s whining and complaining, it will stop. Even if it takes several months, if you are CONSISTENT, your child will get the point and understand that whining and complaining does not work.
book, but one that I have referred to time and time again. With any parenting book, I do not follow everything. Many of their methods are too harsh for me, but the bottom line of the biblical training is worth the read. I choose what works for my family and my faith.
If I was preparing to pick up a small child and he whined to be picked up, then I did not pick him up until he became distracted and pleasant - even though it meant inconvenience for me.
You may envision such a rule being enforced in your house producing a chorus of constant wailings of injustice. The very thought of it may make you feel like a tyrant.
If you give it a try, being 90% consistent, you would Â not be satisifed with the results. If a child ever gets his way through begging or whining, he will try it ten more times unti it works again. But, if his experiences of begging proves to be counterproductive, he will stop wasting his energe in fruitless whining.
This method WORKS. That is all there is to it.
Now that we know how and why to be consistent...let's move onto the heart.
#2 BE CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR CHILD'S HEART FROM THE VERY BEGINNING
I hear moms over and over say that their little ones will outgrow their mean-spirited behavior.
I sometimes laugh and nod, but inside, I do not feel the same way.
Shaping and molding your child's heart is a lifelong process.
In our family, we have come up with three non-negotiables that we feel help to mold our children's heart:
- We expect obedience. We expect our children to listen all the way, right away, and with a cheerful heart.
- We teach and show our children the value of a servant's heart.
- WeÂ let our children fail, make mistakes, and learn how to ask for forgiveness.
Now let's break these three points down:
HOW DO YOU EXPECT OBEDIENCE?
Like I said before, you mean what you say.
If I ask my child to put his toy away in the bucket, and he throws it near the bucket, that is not obedience.
We expect obedience that is all the way.
If I ask my child to put his toy away, and he looks at me and then at the toy and then continues to play, that is not obedience.
We expect obedience right away.
And finally, we ask that our children have a cheerful heart.
This is key because we are to obey with a happy heart, not a pouty, whining attitude. That will just not do!
If you consistently follow through with asking for obedience that is all the way, right away, and with a cheerful heart, it will happen!
A SERVANT'S HEART
The value of this is priceless. In our home, we all work. We all help out. From the youngest to the oldest.
Our children have learned at an early age that not everything is fair. Just because sister came home from a party with a lollipop does not mean that they must have a lollipop too. Our kids have learned that they have to wait their turn and be happy for their sibling.
A couple of concrete ways that you can implement this in your home:
- Ask your children to help unload the groceries with you.
- When you get home, have each child help bring one or two items into the house.
- Give your kids chores!! And household duties.
- Make your sons aware of simple manners such as holding doors and helping the elderly.
- Show your kids that when they see someone doing a job or see a job that needs to be done, they just do it without being asked.
- Do not make everything fair. It is important for siblings to be happy for each other!!
When my kids were little, I saw a teenage member of our family take the full trash out without being asked.
That simple gesture has stuck in my head for several years and has solidified one of our family goals of raising children with servant's hearts.
Do not wait for this training until your children are teenagers. If you do, you will suffer the indignity of their disrespect. Deal with this in the first several years. Respectful teenagers are developed when they are 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, not at 13, 14, 15, or 16.
And finally, I think it is important that we let our kids (even toddlers) have enough independence to make mistakes. They will learn so much from these mistakes. And as parents, we will be able to help them ask for forgiveness and understand what they can do better the next time!
Make sure you take a minute and enter this giveaway hop! These are my top three favorite parenting books that I keep close by to refer to at all times!
#3 MAKE SURE YOUR TODDLERS KNOW WHAT YOU EXPECT!
While there are plenty of jokes out there about toddlers ruling the roost, this cannot be the case!
Yes, toddlers are strong-willed and bull-headed enough to rule the roost, but only if you let them.
The above two points will help this one to just fall into place.
For example, if your child is a screamer. He or she screams whenever something does not go their way, or they scream when you ask them to stop doing something.
You do not have just to wait for them to outgrow this phase.
You are in charge. And by providing discipline consistently each time your child screams for his or her way, it will stop!
Let your toddler know that this is not acceptable behavior.
Before going into a restaurant, a store, a friend's house, let your toddler know the expectations first. This is so easy, yet often overlooked. I still do this with my 9 and 7-year-old!
Along the same line, I do not agree with counting to three! I learned this early on when I read Ginger Hubbard's book Don't Make Me Count to Three.
My second son is very strong-willed. That will is coupled with some learning disabilities and a sensory processing disorder. He was an extremely difficult child to discipline. This book, Don't Make Me Count to Three, was the biggest help in parenting this unruly child.
I had many well-intentioned parents tell me to just count. But it was this book that really showed me why that is just not the best method.
Do you find yourself threatening, repeating your instructions, or raising your voice in an attempt to get your children to obey?
Are you discouraged because it seems you just can't reach the heart of your child?
Through personal experience and the practical application of Scripture, Ginger Hubbard encourages and equips moms to reach past the outward behavior of their children and dive deeply into the issues of the heart.
Ginger's candid approach will help moms move beyond the frustrations of not knowing how to handle issues of disobedience and into a confident, well-balanced approach to raising their children.
This is an essential book if you are dealing with disciplinary issues. It is a great read. I really enjoyed her fresh and funny tone, as well as her spot on principles.
SO WHY IS COUNTING TO THREE BAD?
You will have to read to find out, but the bottom line is that it is teaching your kids that they do not need to listen the first time. They have time to continue the bad behavior until you get to three.
Seriously, read this book!
- Put these three books on your must read list: Shepherding a Child's Heart, How to Train Up a Child, Don't Make Me Count to Three
- Join theÂ Well-Behaved Toddler Challenge - Do not miss out on this FREE opportunity to grow as a parent.
- Consistency is Key.
- Be Concerned about Your Child's Heart from the Beginning.
- Make Sure Your Toddler Knows Your Expectations.