How do you handle it when…?

QUESTION:

How do you handle it when your toddler will not accept redirection? He just keeps going for the same things again and again!

Answer:

If you are wanting redirection to make your toddler not want to explore or grab things, then you are right – it won’t work for that. It will, however, keep him safe and keep you connected in relationship as he goes through this season of needing to explore and grab everything. Nothing is going to make him stop being a toddler. Nothing is going to take away the drive God has put in him to explore and grab. That is why, during this season, he has been given a mother and father to be responsible and make sure he is safe while he explores and grabs.

While you remove the coffee you speak words of instruction. “Not for [child’s name].” “Hot hot, danger danger.” Let him touch the side of the mug and see a faint reality of what hot feels like. When he grabs for other hot things say, “Hot, [child’s name], just like the mug. Danger.”

It is possible to abuse a child until they stop pursuing the drive to explore that God put in them. There are consequences for doing that. It might appear to make the day-to-day easier, but the damage to the child is immense, and that drive will resurface at a time and age where you have less ability to redirect and keep them safe.

QUESTION:

What do you do when your toddler keeps touching ‘no-nos’?

Answer:

Taking a child’s hand away from something is more effective than tapping/rapping/hitting. My 5- and 3-year-old are able to go anywhere and touch only what is appropriate, and they ask before they touch. The key is to teach a child not to just grab everything, if that’s what you want to teach them. It can be done with a kind and firm approach.

At that age, explanations and reasoning of course would not work, so distraction becomes very handy. I might also say, “Breakable, not for Noah,” and then remove him and show him something he can play with. For those that are not easily distracted, the parent has to continue redirecting. It takes consistency and time for them to learn what is for them and what is not. I would just be especially alert at others’ homes, and I might ask to move some things if I didn’t feel comfortable having them down. Be encouraged. Your child will learn what is for him and what is to be left alone.

It helps to remember that God made them, at this age, to be explorers. If you said to someone about to embark on climbing Mount Everest that he couldn’t or shouldn’t do it, then you can bet you’d get that same look. I imagine it was the look Columbus gave to everyone.

And I believe children should be given many safe opportunity to explore. Of course, they can’t be given any and every opportunity. And this is where the get-off-your-behind rule comes into play. Say it once, then make it happen. “You need to move away from the outlet, not for [child’s name].” Then get up and move them while you say, “Here, let me help you be safe.”

Your child can’t help the fact that he’s 12 months old. He can’t help the fact that God made him to explore. If you aren’t used to being around kids, then I’d suggest getting Ames and Ilg’s Your One-Year-Old from the library. It will tell you all the age-appropriate things you can expect. And punishing for what is age appropriate is like passing judgment on the way God designed a baby to be. At the same time, you need to be training those things – teaching how to safely and properly do exploring while correcting the child from exploring where it isn’t safe and appropriate.

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