Toddler Discipline Notes
Hi, mamas! Per your request, I’m sharing my notes from two of Janet Lansbury’s books:
Elevating Childcare (more geared towards babies)
No Bad Kids (for toddlerhood and beyond)
I wrote some of the below down as it relates to my experience with Lacey. Please know that most of the what you’ll read are Janet’s words of wisdom - I’m simply sharing it here to show you what resonated with me the most!
Remember that this time is hard - especially ages 18 months to four years - and you are not alone! It can be a daunting time, and for many of us, we walk away from the day feeling battered by our little ones (who we love so dearly but who also may have behaved like tiny terrorists that day 😂).
It’s okay to feel frustrated, it’s okay to need a break (I’ve definitely gone to a different room to take deep breaths or yelp out a little scream), it’s okay to not know what you’re doing, and it’s more than okay to ask for help.
Trust your gut first. A mother’s intuition is never wrong! And second, do your research. I truly believe how we parent in these early years has a significant impact on the children and adults our kids become.
Also, this is a very specific type of parenting. The method is called RIE, and you can learn about the basics here. It’s not for everyone. I come from a household of yellers and “no”-ers. I’ll admit my first reaction is often to raise my voice and I can be quite stubborn and hotheaded (Taurus, what can I say). But the other side of me—the caring, thoughtful, selfless side—wants to do right by my child, which is how I discovered RIE. Keep that in mind as you read through and remember that you have to do what’s best for you and your family!
Here goes! Enjoy and let me know in the comments if any of this resonates with you. I bolded the paragraphs that I’m working on right now!
From one mama to another xo,
Make connecting with our kids a priority, i.e. try not to use distraction as a tool. If they’re upset, allow them to express their feelings rather than attempt to squash a tantrum as an example. Meet your child where they are, listen patiently and acknowledge. You won’t be the bad guy for confronting a situation honestly, you’ll be trusted and your child will feel safe.
Acknowledgement of feelings is one of our most powerful tools. Doesn’t mean you’re condoning the feelings - what it means is that you’re validating them and your child feels heard.
I do this with Lacey by saying things like, “I know you’re hungry honey, and I’m heating up your dinner. It will be a few minutes.” Or “I know you don’t want your diaper changed, but we have to change your diaper in order to get ready for school. Do you want to help me change you?”
Testing children isn’t productive, i.e. “where’s your nose?” For some it can show a lack of trust or respect. Babbling is talking - try not to mimic their babbling even though it’s cute and funny!
Talk calmly during tough situations between toddlers. Toy grabbing and hitting example - “Lacey, you had the car and now Caroline has it. You both want to play with it but let’s see if we can find something else we like.” If there’s aggression, start with saying, “I won’t let you hit.” Repeat a few times and if it continues, remove her from the situation, allow her to express her feelings, and then offer a lesson.
The S word, sharing: toddlers don’t understand it. It’s often misused. When battling between a toy, it’s best to let the children work it out without getting involved unless it keeps happening with multiple toys. Model generosity when it happens, acknowledge when they share nice, understand that for them, toy grabbing is a social learning experience.
Repetitively taking toys is usually a sign that the child is asking for help with boundaries and needs to be gently stopped.
Don’t take misbehavior personally(!!!). Toddlers pick up on parents tension especially if the parent is projecting fear of the child’s misbehavior. Disallow the behavior nonchalantly.
Address your child like a CEO in terms of tone. Not soft, but not yelling. Children find comfort when we are effortlessly in charge and don’t need lectures, yelling, scolding, and punishments. React immediately, using your hands, and speaking “I won’t let you do that, if you do it again I’ll have to take it away.”
Try to say I or me instead of mommy or daddy.
Be careful with “use your words” or “inside voice.”
If they can now reach something on a counter they couldn’t reach before (as long as it’s not dangerous in the moment), react with a “Wow! You can reach that now. But this isn’t safe to touch.” Instead of a “NO! Don’t do that” which typically makes them want to repeat the behavior again.
UNRUFFLED. The key word! How can you stay calm in the midst of tantrums and misbehavior? Change your attitude. Limit pushing, defiance, and testing are healthy behaviors of independence for a toddler.
(BTW, Unruffled is also the name of Janet’s podcast.)
Never take their limit-pushing behavior personally.
Terrible two’s - they’re not terrible, they’re torn. They appear like they want to be in charge, but they’re afraid of that power.
She’s testing these behaviors at home (mostly with me, her mama) because she knows that’s where she’s loved and safe, which means she’s been nurtured well.
If Lacey senses she is pushing my buttons (yelling, frustration), she will feel unsettled and then there will be constant demands (whining).
That’s all for my notes for now. Most importantly, enjoy this time! Yes, it’s challenging but it’s also incredibly special to watch our little people become confident, happy, and secure children. Hugs!