Toddlers 2-4 Years Old
No one tells you how difficult it is to take a human being and teach her everything she needs to know to successfully make her way in the world. And trust me, much of the groundwork is done right here. In these few short years before they go off to school and the world starts to make its mark- we get this awesome opportunity to build the foundation (fill the well).
This foundation is made up of the tools of learning patience (which most adults have not grasped), empathy, self-assurance, following rules, thoughtfulness, anger management and resilience. Of course your little two year old is not expected to sit at the dinner table and talk politics (and we wouldn’t even want that—ever hear the “opinions” of an overly zealous toddler?). I’m talking here about laying the groundwork.
It isn’t easy (here I go again) but toddler behavior can foretell your child’s teen years. So, let us dive into the foundation of discipline. Here are the ground rules.
As stated in a previous chapter, we must first be united as parents. Many times parents disagree about how to discipline because of the different ways THEY were raised. We were all raised differently, it doesn’t mean my way is right and your way is wrong. We can draw from both.
Next, we must be consistent. We’ve discussed this. Say what you mean and mean what you say, every time.
Finally, we have to understand that children really do crave discipline, consistency and boundaries from an early age. It makes them feel safe and loved in a very big and often scary world. If we fail to discipline our children at the correct age we set ourselves up for some rocky roads and steep mountains in our very near future. This carries into the teenage years. None of us want disrespectful teenagers. Especially when we need their respect the most concerning drugs, sex, smoking, curfews, driving and all the fun stuff.
Once your children get to the age where they can understand more than a firm “no” or slap on the hand, we can then discipline through time-outs or taking away valued objects or privileges.
When your child is under two years old, you can impose mini-time-outs. These are given right in the room they are in and for about one minute. A lot of specialists say children can’t possibly know why they are in a time-out at this age. I’ve experienced otherwise. I’ll give you an example.
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.Proverbs 25:11
A seventeen month-old boy had takes a toy away from another child. Say to him, “Taking things out of people’s hands without asking is not nice, now you need to have a time out.” Put him in a child-sized chair right there in the same room so that you can see that he is staying in his seat. After one minute to two minutes after he did his “time”, tell him to come off his chair and apologize to his friend. Apologies are last because that ends the punishment. (In a perfect world, apologies are met with forgiveness and we all move on. You’ll find that in a child’s world, the one who suffered the injustice does indeed forget all about it.)
If you have to sit on your child to keep her in her chair, this is not a time-out. Time-out consists of zero attention. It is the lack of attention that is the real punishment for children. If a child cries out during time out, complains or even speaks at all, we must start the clock over. We can and should give timeouts as required anytime and anywhere. You can use park benches, restaurant stools, chairs at friend’s homes, even church pews for timeouts. A timeout is a break for everyone. It is a separation until your child can get his act together.
He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.Proverbs 13:18