What cooperation skills work best on toddlers | QUESTION
Should I be expecting that these language based tools are effective at the toddler age versus other approaches. I find that my son who is nearly two years old often doesn't listen or do what I have said.
These are great questions and show a parent who is thinking critically and deeply about his situation. Although children are all unique and respond differently it’s often the parents insight and understanding about this age group that results in either escalating the frustration or in increasing credit cooperation patience and growth. So let’s start with the toddler and the language transition phase. Here are some insights that may help to understand why you may not be getting the results you feel you should be getting at this age range.
Distraction Based Technique
We often assume that our children’s level of self-control increases at the same rate as their ability to understand what we say. In other words in our minds we say I know you’ve heard and understood me. So then why aren’t you on doing what I ask. We have assumed that just because they had heard and correctly understood us we believe that they should also have the self-control and the self-discipline to be able to do what we ask. Therefore in this age range it is best for us to understand the difference between distraction based techniques where we use fun laughter and games and language based techniques where we use requests instructions and verbal communication. It may really help if we broaden look at some of the developmental stages of children through the first years as this may help us adapt our expectations. These are some of the things that we can observe children between the ages of nought and 12 months. We used mostly distraction based cooperation techniques as their language has not developed sufficiently for us to communicate what we are needing. So we entice them with stories and distractions and what they are directly interested in.
So instead of just saying please eat your food we end up saying open your mouth or some food. Here comes the airplane to and inside your mouth or instead of just simply saying please pack away your toys. We end up saying let’s have a race to see who can pack away the fastest. Me or you the key here is that we don’t actually expect our children to listen to us while they are still as young. We accept that at this stage. It’s totally up to us to put in the extra effort and make sure everything works. Then your child turns 1 and 2 years of age as their language increases. We see a marked difference between their ability to understand and their ability to express. You will notice this and how your child understands many of the things you say but still can’t say many words themselves yet we can clearly see that they understand more than they are able to express. But this is the first mistake that we make as the challenge of this age is that our expectations of their abilities in self-discipline rise with their ability to hear and understand us. We feel that just because they are heard and understood what we said we believe they should not be able to act on this and be self-disciplined enough to act appropriately. And if our expectations increase like this we become increasingly frustrated if our expectations are not met. From two years to three years old we experience a 50 50 degree of having to use distraction based techniques and language based cooperation techniques. We begin to really wish that our children would just listen to us the first time because we know that they have heard us but we find we still have to resort back to the distraction based techniques and the bribes. At this age children are entering what I call the language transition stage.
This is around the two to three year phase where children become more and more language oriented and able when we experience then being more communicative. We then hope that by using language reason and logic our children will cooperate with us. Does this sound familiar. I’ve already asked you nicely. Don’t you understand that if you got into your pyjamas quicker we would have more time for story. But just because they understand our words that doesn’t mean this translates into them doing what we are bossed. And thankfully yes our children will become more language oriented and with the skills I teach they will begin to trust reason and logic more. But if you are still at this age range of two to four years of age you will remain incredibly frustrated if you rely too much on your language based techniques. So at this stage still requires more energy and effort from parents as they use more distractions energetic voices and action games. Let’s you can pack away first. Mamo you. Let’s go. It can be useful to remember that at this age range between two and a half and four years old. They will most likely understand a lot of what you’re asking of them but their levels of self-control and willingness to cooperate are still developing. And that is why we find we still revert to games and clever tricks to get them to cooperate. But at this point it is still incredibly important to still use the language skills I teach as these laid down the foundation of their learning. So when we use both the language skills and the more distraction based ones during the stage we are getting things that we need done while still preparing them for the more language based skills later on.
Take a look at the first goal we have in the course on choices. So instead of you need to pack away the blocks now you give two choices it’s pack away time. Would you like to start over here or over there with your blocks. Even at two years old your child will feel the difference that the skill makes and it gives your child’s brain loads of practice into how to make a choice do you want to start here or there. What do I want to do? Your child says and then as your child grows older and more independent then the second skill and choices is really useful as it accelerates in practicing to be independent. It’s pack away. Tom No way would you like to start now. I want to start over here but this is the trick.
Even if you apply skills 1 and 2 and your child does not fully cooperate you are still providing them with opportunities to practice their levels of self-control and willingness to cooperate self-control and self-discipline are learned behaviors that take time as our children’s brain and personality develop. Our role as parents is to provide our children with opportunities to practice this even if we don’t get the immediate result that we are wanting. And when we don’t get the exact results we thought we should remember that you are providing your children with opportunities to develop and strengthen their levels of self-control which will really be helpful to them in the future. From the four years of age and onwards we find their buy in and self-control rise significantly which allows us to use more language based techniques but often we still run ahead of ourselves.
Sometimes we get such great cooperation in one day from a skill. We believe that they should do this the next day if they listen to me once then they should be able to do that again tomorrow. And again the next day. So it helps to keep remembering that our children’s brains and personalities are developing and changing at a slower pace than our expectations are. Another way to understand this could be to see that our children’s language development runs at a different pace than their self-discipline and self-control development just because they can understand us well. This doesn’t imply their self-control has also developed to the same degree. Just take a look at an adult human being’s life. Even mature and experienced people can understand verbal language incredibly well but their abilities and personal levels of self-control and discipline are still behind on the developmental scale. Manage your expectations and you will experience less frustration.