If you’re living with a curious tot, it can seem like your belongings are under siege.
The worst part? Your toddler doesn’t even know what he’s doing wrong. Try these 6 tactics to teach self-regulation and discipline.
Don’t wait until you have to confront your little one – prevention is more effective. If you see him about to tear up a book or break up a toy, distract him with another more appropriate activity. Offer him a different toy or game, and play along with him so he’s totally engaged.
NEXT: Provide toys that come apart →
Since you know he enjoys disassembling objects, give him a toy that he can put together and take apart, again and again. For example, letting him play with age-appropriate bricks allows him to build them any way he wants and then break them up just as quickly.
NEXT: Make play open-ended →
Toddler wreaking havoc on your home? Pick up “open-ended play” sets at The Better Toy Store such as the geometric Creative Blocks ($45.90) or award-winning 42-piece Basic Ball Track Construction Set ($199, pictured).
NEXT: Set clear limits →
The problem is that he has not yet learnt when it is appropriate to dismantle an object and when it is not. He thinks that they are all the same, from that perspective. Explain clearly to him what he’s not allowed to damage – point out that these objects, whether it’s the DVD player or the ornament on the table, can’t be put together again, so he must handle them gently.
NEXT: Be prepared to say no →
Once you’ve explained that he is not allowed to break toys or furniture, but he still proceeds to take them apart, step in and say “no” to him. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground, even if he throws a tantrum. If you give in to him, he’ll quickly learn that when you say “no”, you really mean, “No, unless you have a tantrum, in which case I’ll say ‘yes’.”
NEXT: Use praise effectively →
When your son does play properly with a toy and leaves it in the same condition that he found it, give him lots of praise. Rewarding for positive behaviour is usually more effective than punishing for negative behaviour.
NEXT: Distract rather than confront →
From The Finder (Issue 282) / Updated September 2019
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