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Thursday, 12 June 2014

Behavior Charts and Toddler Taming!

I have a wonderful Daughter. She is beautiful and sweet. She is so bright and a real chatterbox. She in generous and loving.

She is also a handful. She has a stubborn streak. She is determined, and that often translates to determined to get her own way. She can throw impressive wobblies and has gone through most of the usual toddler stages of biting, hitting, pushing etc.

For the most part it was always manageable. We used timeout when things got very bad. We were firm and tried not to give in, sometimes.

Just before Abbie turned 3 her behavior moved away from manageable. She started throwing more frequent wobblies. I put it down to the arrival of her Brother, so I gave her some time. It continued, then it overflowed into Pre-School. It was time to take action.

After having a chat to my wonderful Sister In Law, who has worked in Childcare for over 15 years, we came up with a plan. While I thought I had been firm I realised that I had not been consistent. I had always believed in picking your battles, but I seemed to be never picking any battles at all.

I want to share with you what I decided to do, and why! To help my Daughter I decided to do the following things

- Use Time Out more frequently and consistently. She would be given a warning for inappropriate behavior, then time out. The basis of most 'bad' behavior is attention. It is educational theory that the more attention you give a behavior the more of it you will get. If you yell, rant, rave, smack etc it is still attention. Time Out works because you are not engaging with the behavior. You calmly take your child and put them in Time Out. If they move, calmly place them back. Avoid eye contact. Don't talk about it. When time is up you might confirm with the child why they were put there. Then, redirect to something positive.

- Have a behavior chart with 4 simple goals. These were positively worded directions on what I expected her to do. If she achieved all four she would be able to claim a reward from a reward jar. Education research has shown that most children DO want to do what is right most of the time. They simply sometimes don't always remember the right thing, or do not know it. They may know all the things they shouldn't do, but that doesn't help them in finding the positive alternative. By giving a simple, clear, positively stated direction you are telling the child what you expect.

- Extrinsic and Intrinsic rewards - These a terms that would be familiar to any teacher. Extrinsic rewards are rewards that you get externally, so this means a prize. Intrinsic is rewards that come from within yourself. Extrinsic rewards are brilliant for children. Many would call it bribery, but it is extremely effective. It also fosters a positive association with meeting goals, and so leads to being intrinsic. For rewards I bought a heap of very cheap party fillers, and to add excitement I wrapped them.

- Give her more responsibility by expecting her to away her toys. Kids need opportunities to show their positive behavior, and be praised for it. The simple task of packing away toys would help give my Daughter a sense of pride and satisfaction from meeting her expectations.

I did not expect an immediate change, nor did I expect it to be a permanent change. It took a good week for my Daughter to stop battling with me over everything. However, through being consistent she started to understand the boundaries I had set. Pre School remarked that she was a changed child, and even I noticed she was much happier.

She still has her off days. She is a child after all. However, the changes are there. I now have a different reward chart to the one I first made. We got it from Kmart and it allows me to change the goals and has magnets for the 'stickers'. This was great because it has meant I could alter goals as she has achieved some and moved onto new ones.

What is your best 'Child Taming' tip? ANything you found super effective? SHare below in the comments I would love to hear about it :)

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