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Thursday, 18 February 2016

A parenting tip I've learned that helps my toddler become more considerate to others

I've been really working on talking to my son in a way where I introduce new 'emotion' words in a way that it means something to him and they become significant.

It's a technique I read in this book, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk.

For the record, he's nearly three years old, and very much a typical toddler who likes to get his own way. Strong willed at the best of times and can be very hard work! I think though that he's just getting to an age where everything is (almost) lovely, and I'm really working hard on improving his manners and helping him learn to be more polite to get what he wants.

This is really hard to explain, so I'll give you an example. Last weekend the word of the day was 'considerate'. We asked him to walk with us rather than be carried, and I was worried that it was becoming a bad habit and he'd do his usual fake crying until being picked up. Anyway, for once he didn't complain, he complied.

I stopped what we were doing and I said, "Thank you so much. That is so considerate of you."

N.B. Slight pause before 'considerate' - I wanted to emphasise it.

He smiled and repeated the word, so I think it went in.

Ever since that happened I've been trying to reinforce it and praise him with it whenever he's done something good. But equally, he has been inconsiderate at times.

I have to be careful with that word because he's very sensitive. If criticised he gets a face like thunder, looks down and says "NO!" and goes into a sulk. He has a thousand yard glare that could cut through glass, it's quite frightening at times!

So I am training myself to use the 'I feel X when Y happens' method to try and get my point across without hurting his feelings. This way he hopefully takes it on board without getting offended.

The point the book makes is that we're much more likely as adults to respond positively to something if we aren't directly criticised, and children are exactly the same. We can still get our point across, but in a way that makes them reflect on their behaviour and the stressful impact it has on us.

The book is full of cartoons like this to teach you useful parenting techniques

So I was thinking about this cartoon and I recently said, "When you picked up Tink you were quite rough with her, and she might think that is inconsiderate, and she might feel sad, so please be careful."

It's a really little thing, but something happened tonight that made me so happy.

He was dancing to this song in the kitchen but dancing really well, like this crazy, interpretative, wild modern dance thing he had going on. Honestly never seen him dance like it and we were both really proud of him. Check out my Instagram as I'll post videos every now and then.

Later I said to him, "when you were dancing in the kitchen you were dancing so well, I felt really proud of you."

"I made daddy feel happy," he said.

And then we carried on watching Curious George, and I couldn't have felt prouder if I had tried.


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