The energy you give becomes the energy you receive. Positivity breeds positivity. In the land of toddlers and children, no matter how positive you are, there are still going to be difficult days. It's inevitable. This isn't a magical list that makes parenting extremely easy. However, there are benefits in the long run. Children are growing and figuring this life out and learning how to handle their emotions which is also why what and how we say things is important. It will resonate with them and will eventually reflect on how they see and move through life.
Part of the reason toddler tantrums happen is because they are frustrated. Frustration is a big emotion for children as a whole. They don't completely understand how to do things, why they can't do certain things, why there are limits, why they are feeling the way they are feeling. As parents, it's our job to guide them into managing these emotions and turning it into something positive. When we're frustrated as adults, we are capable of taking a step back and breathing. We understand why we're frustrated and what is making us frustrated. Even some adults have a hard time cooling their frustration and yet we expect someone years younger to know exactly what to do.
One thing I recommend is cutting down on the use of the word 'no'. I've found out two things: the less I use the word no, the more powerful it is when it's necessary (like a dangerous situation and safety purposes) and that we can avoid a tantrum by wording things differently. As parents, we tend to overuse the word 'no' because we want to avoid a mess or worry about not being in control or we forget to make our home child-friendly. 'No' is a fierce word. It is a wall. And chances are, children are eventually going to start to rebel against it. We forget to let a little loose and let kids be kids and explore new things.
By rephrasing things, we become a guide. We help them explore potential options they didn't know they had or consequences they didn't think of. Instead of "no" when they start hitting something, change it to "hitting that might break it" or "hitting your brother hurts him." Instead of "no" when they're near a hot oven, explain they need to step away because it's hot and can burn them. Instead of "no", become more direct so they understand exactly what the disapproving behavior is as in "let go of the dog's tail. It hurts them."
The way we speak to children shapes them. The things you say to them are the things they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
- You are capable.
- You are loved.
- You are valuable.
- Being around you makes me happy.
- I have fun with you.
- I'm grateful for you.
- You are incredible at [insert action and/or talent here].
- You are worthy.
- Thank you for helping me.
- You are strong.
- Trust yourself, your instincts, and your intuition.
- Mistakes are normal, it's how we move forward from them that matters.
- Don't get caught up in pleasing everyone else. Not everyone will like you and that's completely fine. It's impossible to be a match for everyone.
- Can you explain to me how you did that?
- I really love your use of color/texture/etc in your artwork.
- I can't wait to see what you create.
- I think that's great. What about trying it this way next time?
- That's a really interesting idea.
- I'm proud of you and the person you are becoming.
- You can do it with practice and persistence.
- I hear you and I see you.
- You are allowed to say no.
- Your body is your own.
- Wow. That was brave of you.
- I love how curious you are.
- What do you think?
- How does that make you feel?
- I appreciate you.
- You can try again.
- You did your best.
- I love the way your mind works.
- I accept you for who you are.
- I love spending time with you.
- Tell me more.
- That's a fair point.
- I hear what you're saying.
- I understand.
- I'm listening.
- Can you teach me how to do that?
- That's really rad.
- I forgive you.
- You are beautiful inside and out.
- You are important.
- Don't be afraid to be different.
- I love you.