Parenting a child is much like training a puppy. I'm realizing more and more lately that the same tricks I used to train Teddy I know use to parent my children.
Use a firm, but gentle voice. I don't believe that I need to yell at someone to get them to listen. I've always tried to get Teddy to listen to my commands by being gentle but still firm. When I say, "Teddy, go to bed," I say it in a way that let's him know I am the boss but not in a way that will make him afraid of me and react out of fear.
Recently, Peanut has begun to stand up on this kid's rocking chair we have. I tell him, "Peanut, sit down," and sometimes, "Peanut sit down right now." So far, he has always reacted by sitting down. My tone of voice tells him I expect him to sit down, but he is not reacting because I'm angry.
Expect them to listen. When I give a command to Teddy or ask my children to do something. I am not wishy-washy and let them get away with not doing what I ask. I am just confusing Teddy if I let him get away with not listening to my commands. I feel the same way about my children. Kids look to you for guidance, if you ask them to do something, they chose not to do it and you let it go, they will learn they don't need to listen to you. This does not mean that I'm an overbearing, or controlling mom in any way, but I do my best not to give them mixed signals when asking them to do something. Of course, I make sure they are age-appropriate requests such as "Please come here, " or "Sit down please."
Overpraise the behavior you like while ignoring the behavior you don't. When Teddy does what I ask, he feels like the biggest rockstar, the best dog that ever lived. For example, Teddy lays down when I ask him to, "Good boy, Teddy, good down, you're so good!" When Peanut sat down when I asked him to earlier: "Thank you, Peanut, good job!" as I rub his back. He gave me the biggest smile and ate the praise up.
We make Teddy sit in his bed during dinner so that he doesn't sit at our feet begging with his puppy dog eyes. If he whines during dinner, we ignore it. I don't want to give him any attention for behavior we don't like. I believe that, to dogs, any attention is good attention. When the Bambinos do something we don't like, we address it, "Please don't push your brother," but we don't give it close to the amount of attention we give their good behavior.
Set them up for success. When I make Teddy stay, he gets antsy if we make him stay too long. Rather than making him stay, him getting too excited, getting up and getting admonished for getting up without the release command ("okay!") I let him up before he gets up on his own. I ask of my kids only what I know they can handle. The things we ask of them are very, very simple: "Legs down," when changing their diaper, or "Come here, please," or "Hold still, for a second." I ask them to follow directions that their 16month old selves can handle.
Don't get me wrong, these instances do not mean I treat my children like pets at all. But people often say that a dog is good practice for a baby and it is absolutely true. Having Teddy first has made me more patient, more loving, more...soft than I was before I brought him home. But most of all, he taught me how to love unconditionally.
Stop by Mrs. Monologues today, she's giving away a Lilo Print!