The normal healthy toddler who is just beginning to be able to function independently on many physical and mental measures is not really interested in being told what not to do, but highly interested in being told what they can do. This requires thought and practice, but the improvement in your relationship with your child is well worth the effort.
For example, If Jimmy is jumping on the couch, the best approach is: (1) note that the child is not being bad, but expressing their need for gross motor skills. (2)The adult can say something like “You may jump on the floor.” This way Jimmy can still jump, but in the appropriate spot. If Jimmy remains jumping or standing on the couch, he should be given a choice where either choice is in agreement with the adult’s decision. (3) The adult can say something like “You might need my help getting onto the floor? You can get down by yourself or I can help you.” With a response like this, the child is still given a choice, however; they must comply. If Jimmy still remains on the couch the adult can pick him up and say “You must need my help getting down, so I will help you down safely.”
Remember, even in day-to-day situations giving choices makes the child feel that you respect their opinion.
A Child’s Reaction to Redirection
- Looks for happiness within
- Respects self and others
- Consideration of others
- Internal value setting
- Looks to do what is best for the situation
- High self-esteem
- Peaceful, calm child
- Internal control
- Learns from experience
- Makes responsible decisions
- Teaches child how to think