Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A New Year, a new phase of development

Happy New Year! Pookaloo is now 16 months old, and is in the delightful throes of toddlerhood, including insatiable curiosity, limitless energy, definite ideas of what she wants, and accompanying meltdowns. I've had a chance to practice a variety of positive parenting tools, to be sure!

  • I've let her exercise power by giving choices ("Would you like to wear the green shirt or the pink shirt? Point to the one you want to wear.")
  • I've made her life seem more predictable by talking us through transitions. ("When we get home, we will change your diaper, then it will be time for a nap.")
  • I've avoided battles or turned tears to giggles by being playful. ("It's time to go now. Let's go like a rocket ship. 3-2-1 blastoff!").
  • I've enforced limits by being kind and firm and redirecting as necessary. ("I love you and the answer is no. Let's read this book instead.")
  • I've made sure my words have meaning by following through and not issuing commands unless I'm prepared to get up and physically help her comply.
  • I've modeled behavior I want. ("Gentle hands, like this.")
  • I've given alternatives. ("Those ornaments are interesting, aren't they? Let's use one-finger touches on them.")
  • I've reflected feelings. ("You are mad. You wish you could play all day, and it's time for bed. Wouldn't it be fun to never have to go to sleep?")
  • I've offered assistance. ("It's sleepy time. You need to hold still and let sleep come find you. It looks like you are having trouble stopping yourself. I'll help by hugging you.")

Still, disciplining a child is like tending a garden: don't expect instant results. Some days I am more frustrated than others, and I need to find positive ways to deal with that frustration. Playing the piano, getting silly, reading a book, and getting down on the floor with her to wrestle or play all seem to help.

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