No 8 in our series ‘Using positive discipline’: Mistakes and normal curiosity versus ‘naughty’
Toddlers and children will make mistakes. Be careful not to punish mistakes. So when they spill something on the floor or don’t get to the potty on time try to be philosophical and kind. Let him/her help tidy up the mistake in a friendly way. A child who is not afraid of the punishment of mistakes is the child who will succeed at school and in life as this is how one really learns new stuff!!!
Remember: It is only wrong to hurt others, yourself or the environment on purpose! And babies cannot understand that they are doing ‘wrong’. So guide them with a firm ‘no’ and a diverting their attention to something else. They are wired to learn and to learn very fast. They will learn this if you are patient and consistent and both firm but also gentle and understanding and not judgemental!
Testing boundaries like almost but not quite touching something they have been told not to – or touching it is all part of learning. The mystery of what we have been told is out of bounds – of course we will be interested even a toddler! Try to make your home as child friendly as possible so that the ‘Yes you can!’ can be said so much more than ‘no you can’t’.
Decide why you are saying ‘no’ to something. Think about each ‘no’ you say. If you think about why you are saying no you may find that you are saying no to a very good learning opportunity – or some real fun! Don’t say no too quickly. If asked for permission think carefully before you say ‘no’. Then when ‘no’ is said your child will learn that you always consider the why’s of ‘no’ and that you respect and love them enough to do this. (But if they are about to run into the road or touch a piece of hot coal say ‘stop’ rather than ‘No’ and say it fast – we have to protect our children and they feel safer if they can see that we care enough to keep them safe).
Small children actually want us to approve of them. So make it as easy as possible for them to be approved by you! So don’t expect too much from your small child. And make it easy to behave well in your family with routines, 5 minute warnings of changes, child proofing, a good relationship and very few ‘verboten’ things. Keep in mind that children develop at their own pace. One child will cope with the basic dressing of herself at 2 years old and another at 3 ½ ...Remember Einstein did not talk till he was 3 – seeming to ‘lag behind’ in one area is probably not because your child is mentally challenged. We are just all different from each other...and that makes the world!
(But always check that your child does not have a physical problem like deafness or something else if you see a very great or a very general lag in development - starting remedial work early is a the key to the besy possible outcome)