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Advise For Parenting Toddlers - How To Discourage While You Encourage
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Every parent of a toddler knows that encouragement is important and discouragement is necessary. You try to encourage your child to learn, help, and grow but, you just can't avoid discouraging them from doing things they shouldn't be. It's not a bad thing, it's a part of life. They get into things, they play with things they shouldn't, they have a tendency to make a complete mess (even when playing with the things they're suppose to), and as the parent it is your job to discourage these actions. My advise for parenting toddlers is to encourage your toddler while discouraging these actions (read on, I'll explain).

Anyone who has a child older than the age of two can tell you that encouragement, praise, and cheer always come across better than the word, "no". The reactions your toddler has to saying, "good job", yelling "Yay!", and clapping is usually laughter and smiles. Their reaction to saying, "no", is usually a "deer in the headlights" look (if your toddler isn't talking yet) or maybe that face that says, "what did I do?". There are two reasons for this and it explains why my advise for parenting toddlers is to encourage while you discourage.

The first reason saying, "no", isn't all that effective after a while? It's boring. Think about it, if all your toddler ever hears is no, no, no, every time they do something wrong, the word eventually holds very little if no importance to them. From then on, they only time saying, "no", really influences them is if you shout it at them (which I don't recommend).

The second reason saying, "no", doesn't really work is because, it doesn't explain anything to them. They hear the word, and they can tell by the way your saying it that it's means there doing something wrong or bad but, they don't understand why you think they're doing something wrong. You and I understand that opening the fridge spoils food and wastes electricity, that playing with laundry or dish detergent can be hazardous, and that smacking the television with one of their toys could break a very expensive appliance but, they don't know that.

They don't understand that they are being the cause of an ill effect so, they don't understand why you're telling them not to do that. Which means they're probably going to do it again. The following advise for parenting toddlers is how I combat this issue with my son: encouraging while being discouraging and persistence.

Now, the terminology I use may be a little misleading. After all, how do you discourage your toddler from doing something while encouraging them at the same time. I don't actually do it at the same time, just really close together. You discourage them from the wrongful act, encourage them to "fix" the wrongful act (if you need/want to), and then encourage them to do something appropriate. Good example: if your toddler gets the dish detergent from the unlocked cabinet under the sink you should discourage them from playing with it, encourage them to put it back (tell them, show them, and praise them when they obey), they encourage them to play with something they should.

This practice isn't necessarily going to work for every parent or every child but, I prefer it to most of the alternatives. Oh, and my advice for parenting toddlers to help with the,"no", word issue? Add some more dialogue. What I mean by this is, don't just say "no". Say something more substantial, like, "No, baby, you can't play with that. You could hurt yourself. You don't want to hurt yourself playing with that so, we need to leave that alone, okay?".

That may not have been the best example but, you should get the gist of what I'm saying. Don't say one word of discouragement and leave it at that, explain to them why they shouldn't be doing that. Feel free to say, "no" (it's an important word for them to learn) but, including that expletive will keep them from getting bored with it and, eventually, ignoring it.

My next piece of advise for parenting toddlers is persistence. You need to do this again, and again, and again until they understand the issue at hand. This is were patience as a parent comes into play. Your toddler isn't going to understand that what they're doing is wrong if you only stop them once. The average attention span of a child is their age in minutes (one year old = one minute, two years old = 2 minutes, and so on and so forth). You need to consistently and persistency dissuade them from doing things you don't want to be doing, that's the only way they're going to learn. The end result is that they will eventually remember that this is something they are not supposed to be doing and they won't.

Is it really that easy? In theory, yes. In practice, not necessarily. Just keep going at it, and change your approach to the situation as calls for it. No one said being a parent is easy but, it's definitely worth it.

That's the end of my advice for parenting toddlers for now. Stay tuned for more. Thanks!


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