All moms experience that beautiful moment when our sweet toddlers place blocks into a bucket at our request. We clap real hard and so do they. It’s a happy-mom moment, like the first time they pee in the potty. We parade around the house, call Nana, distribute M&Ms. Am I right?
Responding to our directives and response to praise is short-lived in toddler life though. The joy of obedience doesn’t last long. In no time, toddlers become more concerned with having their own way than making mama smile. It’s frustrating and sad.
Let me encourage you. Don’t talk yourself out of how much your little ones want to make you happy. It may not seem that way when they throw fits. Their resistance to you is not a sign that you are a bad parent. It’s not a sign you need to change. It’s more likely a sign they need to change.
And change they will, if you take time to train, if you are consistent, and if you make it fun. Your children will respond well because you are the source of all the good things in their lives and they hate to disappoint those who consistently express love.
Just remember, love is not all about being easy and soft. If it was, we would never bother to potty train. Most toddlers resist that at first too, but eventually they catch on because we stick with training until they do right by their doo.
The same must be true about all the skills we want our toddlers to master, like taking a no, sitting still, or coming when called. We have to train and we have to stick with it until our children respond.
I honestly believe children never outgrow their desire to please their parents. We parents simply give up because training is work and we don’t want to follow through with discipline. Consistency is hard too. We get tired. We’re insecure and scared. We hate to make our kids cry. I get it. I have been there x7.
But we’ve got to stop wearing diapers, moms, and grow into our identity as disciplinarians. And we can do this! The same determination we have to ensure kids poop in a pot can transfer to other skills and behaviors children need in order to be well-adjusted citizens of our homes and the community.
So we determine bed time and screen time.
We determine where shoes and toys belong.
We define kindness and respect.
We define the chores, academic expectations, and curfews.
It’s what parents do for eighteen long years.
So let’s break it down:
1-Choose your methods of discipline in advance: time out, spanking, removal of privileges, or whatever, depending on your temperament and your child’s age. Read everything you can get your hands on and commit yourself to discipline methods you can stick with. Don’t judge other parents who choose something different because you are not raising their children and you are not accountable for how their kids turn out. Likewise, they are not raising your children so ignore their judgment of your discipline methods. It’s up to each family to decide. Read. Choose. Commit.
2-Follow through with discipline lovingly and consistently. When your child disobeys, discipline every time, just as you would change his undies every time he has an accident. You don’t ignore potty training mishaps. You wipe up the pee. You get your kid out of her poopy panties. Similarly, don’t ignore the other stinky trials that come with teaching a child to grow up.
Yes, you can do this when your child is a toddler. She wants to make you happy. And she needs you to train her to do more than pee in a hole.
Develop and carry out a discipline plan when your child is young, and she will grow up strong and grateful.
Here’s what my daughter, Carrie, has to say about it:
Discipline definitely played a major role in my development as a child. I think it was important to my parents to discipline us in a way that would keep us from repeating a bad behavior, but it was even more important to them that we understood why we were being disciplined. I have distinct memories of sitting on my parents lap after being spanked, and having them explain to me why I’d been punished, and why it was important that I not do whatever I’d done again. At the time, the last thing I wanted to do was talk about it, but it was in those one-on-one moments with my parents that I recognized that they loved me, and that Jesus called me to be obedient to my parents and respect them. I grew to understand that when my parents disciplined me it was because they wanted to shape me into becoming a better, Christ-like, young woman.
Carrie’s mature beyond her years. At 21, she’s in business for herself as a wedding photographer at http://carriecolemanphotography.com/
Just don’t forget that responsible young adults were once little toddlers in need of discipline.
Learn more about the importance of discipline at More than Potty Trained: A Parent’s Guide to Obedient Toddlers