Today I have my first ever guest post here on The Singing Mummy. The lovely Jo from Joanne on the Couch has kindly shared with me some great tips for dealing toddlers that won’t play nicely!!
I am coming across this problem a lot at the moment, at times Molly and Alfie are a nightmare together. I feel like a referee and I get very frustrated. Joanne has some great advice for parents on dealing with these situations in a calm and effective manner (something I need to work on at times!!)
When your child won’t play nicely
Many toddlers hit and bite. It doesn’t mean they’re a delinquent in training. It means that they’re lacking in control, feeling frustrated and generally acting like a classic toddler. And it probably means that they’re after more of your attention.
Make sure your child gets as much physical exercise and running around time as possible – this will give him a safe space to work out physical frustrations.
Look out for times when your child is behaving well and praise him or give a little sticker as a reward. If play does go awry, and your child behaves badly towards another, give all of your attention to the victim. Your child will soon learn which way to behave to earn the attention they crave.
If you know that your child has a tendency to hit or bite then you owe it to yourself and them to be extra vigilant when they’re around other children. And think ahead before you get into social situations – is your child likely to be tired, hungry or bored? Any of these can affect their behaviour.
If a child is having problems socialising then the answer is not to socialise less – if anything they would probably benefit from more time amongst their peer group. Watch out for how your child behaves in different settings – perhaps they will be more comfortable with playing in a small gathering rather than a noisy toddler playgroup.
Use a technique that works for you to address this. The ‘naughty step’ is very popular these days, but that doesn’t mean that it works for every child. Another method which can be very effective is counting to three and letting your child know that they will be punished if they don’t do as you ask before you get to three.
Only threaten a punishment if you intend to carry through with it – children are very adept at recognising empty threats. Get down on your child’s level and look her in the eye when you speak to her. You don’t need to shout, but you do need to be firm.
Also, focus on what you want your child to do, rather than what you don’t want her to do – this draws attention to the behaviour you want, rather than what you don’t want. If you say no less often, then she will be more inclined to take notice when you do say it. So rather than talking about the hitting, talk about the kind of behaviour you want to encourage – smiling, gentleness, kind hands and so on.