When your child does something "challenging" (negative behaviour), its important to follow through with whatever consequence you have given. For example, there is no point saying "if you do that again you wont be going to the park this week", to then turn around the following day and take the child to the park. It doesn't teach them anything and it doesn't take long for a child quite young to work out these are empty threats, which therefore makes the behaviours not only worse but continues on and on and on. There are steps to follow and yes they do take some practise. It took me months working with children under 5 to be able to follow these without even realising I was doing it. To begin with you need to make an effort to remember these, but the outcome is worth it.
-Your child is hitting the window with one of their toys.
You say "child's name, please stop hitting your toy on the window...." AND EXPLAIN WHY??
"Because it will break the glass and then you could be really hurt and we will have no more window".
-They continue to hit the toy on the window.
You say "child's name, I have asked you to stop hitting your toy on the window because it will break, if you do it again I am taking the toy from you".
-They continue to hit the toy on the window.
You say "OK I am taking that now thank you as I have asked you twice not to hit it against the window, you will not be having it back now".
It does not matter how much they crack it or throw a tantrum- DO NOT give them the toy back.
In the above scenario, the consequence was that the toy would be removed if they continued to do what you had asked them to stop.
You may also use a consequence of being sent to their room if they continue, you need to do this if they don't listen. If they will not go to their room, you need to physically pick them up and carry them to their room.
My rule of thumb for how long they must stay in their room is a minute for each year of age (3 mins for a 3 year old, 5 mins for a 5 year old, etc...)
So my 2 year old is told to stay in her room for 2 minutes until I tell her she can come out. Once 2 minutes is up, I kneel down to her level and ask her why she was asked to go to her room, wait for an answer and if they say they don't know, remind them- you say "you have been asked to go to your room because you were hitting your toy on the window and I asked you to stop twice but you didn't. It is dangerous to do that as the window could have broken and you could have been hurt".
Once I know my child has understood, I then say "I don't want to see you doing that again and thank you for listening to me. Next time you can use your hammer set to bang OK, that will be a great idea to try".
You need to suggest what they can do instead, find an appropriate substitute or suggest something else they can play with to totally distract them from what they had been doing.
I always end by telling my child that I think they are wonderful and that I love them with a kiss and cuddle.
Please remember these children are still so young and just learning and exploring. They don't need to be crucified. After the appropriate consequence has been followed through, they need to know that they are a wonderful child and that you love them very much. This will form a very strong bond and understanding between themselves and you as their parent. You want your child to know you are in charge and will follow through with consequences but they need to respect you and know that you are there for them and will care for them even if they are naughty.
0-5 years old is a CRUCIAL time in a child's life which will shape who they become for the rest of their lives. They need to feel comforted, loved, supported and important. You can never tell your child you love them too much or give too many hugs.
In regards to completing the steps to following through with the consequence, if your wandering why they get a second warning instead of taking the toy away from them straight up, there are a few reasons. Firstly we are talking about children from approximately 12 months (maybe 18months old) to 5 years old. Yes the older ages understand better that what they are doing is wrong but they are still preschool children, learning what boundaries they can push, their memories still growing and in their eyes their either having fun or testing their parents reactions. They can be given a warning, this is fine, plus sometimes they may not realise the effects of what they are doing which is why its so important to explain why you want them to stop this behaviour. The important thing is to follow through with what you have said you will do, and then making sure you end the entire interaction on a positive note.
It is very important to
- use their name
- use a firm voice but you don't have to scream
- get down to their level, so kneel on the floor beside them
- get eye contact- say to your child- "look at me please".
Of course if the behaviour is dangerous, putting a child is serious harm, making them hysterical or wrecking furniture or household items you will most likely need to burst in immediately with a "STOP" or by taking the item out of the child's hands.
Children that are rarely praised or encouraged for their efforts and positive behaviour are often picked on and yelled at for any negative behaviour. Its common for these children to act out more negative behaviours if these "naughty behaviours" seem to get more attention from their parent or caregiver even if the attention is bad- like being yelled at or told off.
This can be slowly changed by providing a lot of encouragement when they do good things, offering a lot of praise and showing a lot of positive attention when they have listened to you, or packed their toys away, or used their manners, or played nicely with their toys or been nice to other children. Make a big deal out of these positive things. Of course you still need to disapprove negative behaviour but at a lower scale, quickly make a point of the unacceptable behaviour and then move on- do not repeat it over and over, do not dwell on it and don't bring it up again.
Focus on the positive things your child does three times as much as the negative.
And remember to hug your child and tell them you love them every single day. There is never too many times you can do this.