Toddlers and obedience…really.

Aren’t toddlers great? Little people developing right before our eyes; and personalities learning to express their uniqueness in so many different ways!  Often conversations at the cottage move in the direction of teaching good habits, and obedience.  When contemplating ways to help our children learn to obey quickly, here are some basics to keep in mind.
Children learn what they live. If we are consistent, they will recognize that consistency and come to depend on it. If we are not, they will learn how to “play” on our varying moods to their advantage. With my own children (and now with my grandchildren), I find it most effective to only say something once. If I have to repeat myself, I am on my feet moving towards them. Not to use corporal punishment; I am not an advocate of spanking. Just to physically assist them in following through with my instructions. Example: You see your child heading for an outlet or the garbage can and call for her to “stop” or “come to Mom” or “turn around” and she doesn’t. Okay. As you call her name again you are already on your way to her. Turn her around, perhaps give her a toy or book as a distraction and as she changes direction, tell her how great it is that she is obedient. She needs you to be engaged and with her. She is not old enough to follow multiple step instructions on her own. Do tasks with her. Reinforce positive behavior-prompted by you or, better still, self-directed. Yes, this takes energy and focus on your part but the pay-off is great. As she gets older, she will better understand expectations and proper habits will be ingrained. It is wonderful-eventually. Give it time and limit poor options as much as you can. Impulse control takes time and learning it is a process, one that a lot of adults haven’t mastered. Keep at it. (The bonus here is that any younger siblings watch and learn.)
It helps if you will pray to see what you need to recognize to help redirect them. Are they easily bored and needs multiple good options to keep them busy? Are they working to get your attention?
Remember, Mom, their self image and understanding of what a parent is will come from you. If you act with kindness, patience and clarity you will give them the opportunity to feel secure in their world and to know they can be successful in he best ways.