It is our job as parents to be the captain of the ship. It aint always easy people, but someone has got to do it!!
I love my Brooksie Boo to the ends of the earth eight times over, but Momma doesn’t play. “If you’re continually as pushover, there is no incentive for your children to comply” says Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D., author of Spoiling Children. “As a result, your children listen to you less and less, and their misconduct gets worse and worse.”
We do our children a huge disservice if we don’t assume the role of captain at all times. Don’t get me wrong; I’m by no means a strict authoritarian. Kids need to be wild and play like crazies but that doesn’t mean all bets are off. I do my very best to love and nurture my little guy and part of that is giving him boundaries. What sort of adult would he turn out to be if I let him rule the roost at two?
I think about this more especially now that I am pregnant with my second baby. My wonderful sweet boy is soon going to have to share my attention with a new brother or sister. How can my behavior now set Brooks up for success when our new bundle of joy arrives? Brooks is growing and learning so much seemingly at every moment and I want to make sure I do everything I can as his Momma to help him be the best that he can be.
What does it take to be the captain of the ship? I’m going to share with you my tips.
The parent is in charge
Be the captain of the ship. Always remain calm and confident. I know that is easier said than done sometimes, but it is your role. Calmer heads will prevail! Remember that you are the captain and you will remain steadfast and you have the power to navigate the ship through all types of weather. Jackie Rosenberg from my Babies First Class, Jill Spivack from Mom Assembly and Aliza Pressman from Seedlings Group have been my mentors and my village that has helped empower this Momma to captain status.
Don’t lose sight of your goal
Try not to give in to temper tantrums in order to control bad behavior in the moment. Think about the bigger picture. Kids are little learning sponges. If they know you cave by pitching a fit, you are only teaching them bad behavior gets them exactly what they want. The Chocolate Covered Cookie Tantrum by Deborah Blumenthal or The Temper Tantrum book by Edna Mitchell Preston are great books on the topic.
Stay ahead of the game
You know your little monkey. For the most part you know what sends them to meltdown town so do your best to avoid it. Hunger, boredom and being over tired are common causes of meltdowns. That’s why I always carry snacks, toys and even a pacifier in my purse because life isn’t perfectly planned. You never know when you might be stuck in a doctor’s office waiting room or DMV right smack in the middle of his/her lunchtime.
Get down on their level and communicate calmly. I know we parents have eyes in the back of our heads but that doesn’t mean it is appropriate to bark orders from two rooms away.
Break it down
Too much information can be overwhelming for toddlers. Save the long lectures and task list for their teenage years (totally teasing!!). Breaking tasks into smaller steps is better suited for them. For example, I like to break down our nighttime routine into smaller pieces. Instead of saying, “Let’s get ready for bed”, which Brooks would react with a resounding “NO way!” I break up the process into smaller tasks (bathing, brushing teeth, putting jammies on, etc.) and allow Brooks to make choices of which task he would like to do first.
Use your words
Parents around the world have said the phrase “Use your words” which we need to heed as parents as ourselves. Choose your words carefully when you are reprimanding your child. Be direct and brief to stop the undesirable behavior. Especially for toddlers and preschoolers who are just learning how to behave appropriately, give fair warning, a reminder about the rule before you enforce the penalty. The flip side is to make sure you aren’t making empty threats. You need to follow through or you will lose credibility.
Timing is everything
Giving your child fair warning when an activity is ending sets the stage for success. “Five more minutes before we leave the park”, “Ten minutes before you need to get out of the pool”, are types of cues thatare necessary to help your toddler prepare. You can also give your child a choice of ending the activity now or in a specified amount of time. “Would you like to leave the park now or in five minutes?”
Redirecting is when you help your children change activities. In the case of bad behavior, it is imperative to redirect your kiddo away from the situation and talk calmly about the situation. Acknowledge your child’s feelings, wishes and wants and then communicate your desired action. Suggest other choices and then explain the consequences if the undesired behavior is continued.
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.