Toddlers; they’re kind of evil, really cute and very hard to be mad at in comparison to tweens. For example, when my then 3-year-old overheard the contractors working on our bathrooms using language that began with an “F” and ended with a “You” and promptly repeated it to us, we were torn as to whether or not to discipline her or to laugh because she actually did use the phrase correctly; and she was right. If our 7-year-old said that, or a tween said that, however, we’d be furious and all the cute would be eliminated from the situation. Toddlers are just darn cute, and tweens are not so much. I mean, they’re cute in that awkward, kind of weird way that they’re still young but working on growing up; so they’re awkward more than anything else.
At the end of the day, toddlers get away with a lot of things that tweens do not get away with thanks to the small fact that toddlers are just cute. But that doesn’t mean that we need to go all out and find new methods of discipline. Much of what we use to discipline our toddlers will works on our 7-year-old, and even on our tween nieces and nephews. Some of the very things we did when parenting our toddlers are still quite effective as the kids get older, so I thought I might share that with you now.
Keep it simple
The best thing we have learned through watching our nieces and nephews enter the preteen years that we will use on our kids when they reach that age is that keeping it simple works. You have to keep it simple to ensure that things are not lost in the process. For example, with our toddlers we keep a list of rules and the consequences for breaking them. The kids can see them and everything is easy for them since they can read what they can expect when they fail to behave. And that works just as well with tweens. In fact, it works even better since they can read a lot more successfully than toddlers. Keep it simple; make a list of rules and a list of consequences so that there is no shock and surprise when things go wrong and the price has to be paid.
Parenting is much easier when you are present and engaged. Sure, it’s nice to know that your kids are a bit more independent and need you less often than your toddlers, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t able to do things like be present. Your kids need you; especially at this age. If you’re not present for them, it makes their lives a bit more difficult and it makes things all that much more annoying for everyone. Be present so that your kids know you love them and that you are there for them.
When your kids are toddlers, you have to give them some independence in an effort to allow them to learn. When our kids are toddlers, we begin to allow them to make decisions for themselves so that they feel they have some control over their lives. One of the things we’ve learned has caused far fewer meltdowns and terrifying moments in our house is that our toddlers need to choose their own clothes. What I’ve learned so that we are all happy with the final decision is to give my toddlers two choices; wear A or wear B. They choose one and they feel as if they are making the decision without realizing that I actually made the decision and that they are just getting to choose from a very small selection. The same works with tweens since they absolutely need to be able to make decisions in their own lives to feel some sort of control over their lives. Let them.
Kids are not stupid. We like to think that they are, but kids are far more intelligent than we like to give them credit. It’s not as if we are idiots, but we forget what it’s like to be kids. We forget that we knew more than we ever let on at a certain age, yet we look at our children as if they know nothing and are completely innocent. What we need to do for both our toddlers and our tweens is very simple; be honest. When we are honest with them, they learn to trust us and they learn to respect us. When our kids feel that they can trust us, they keep less from us and make less of an effort to hide things. It’s just as easy as that; honest parents tend to have more honest children. It’s the beauty of parenting kids of all ages.
Kids are, once again, not morons. They can sense when someone is placating them and making them feel stupid, and they can sense when someone has respect for them. One of the things that we appreciate with both toddlers and tweens is that they seem to have an innate ability to figure out who it is that respects them and who does not. And it’s far easier for kids of these two ages to have respect for someone that respects them in return. If you want to raise goods kids, show them some respect. They’re far more likely to behave and do what they need to do to live successfully when they feel that they are respected.
Model appropriate behavior
It’s very simple. If you want your kids to grow up and be good, kind, decent people; be that person in front of them. Your kids learn a lot more from you that you care to admit, and that means that they will model your behavior. This means it’s time for you to model appropriate behavior of your own. Toddlers like to mimic their parents and so do tweens, and this is one of the simplest, yet most effective pieces of parenting advice that we have to offer.
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