My strong-willed, high-needs two-year-old has been in one of the most rotten phases of her life the past few weeks. She has been testy, sassy, moody, rebellious, defiant, violent towards her little sister, yells at us and has meltdowns constantly. I have been so frustrated and discouraged and at a loss of what to do to the point where I have found myself on the Internet searching for preschool openings to stick her in and a job for me to pay for it. I know my calling is to be a stay at home mom for now and I would never seriously get a job and throw her into preschool because I can't handle her behavior issues, but my goodness sometimes I really want to...at least temporarily.
All of the best and most effective discipline techniques that we use for Mercedes I've gotten from The Discipline Book by Dr. Sears. I recently lent my copy to a friend, so the other day during my peak of discouragement and frustration, I searched askdrsears.com and found some answers. Somehow these past few months, during sicknesses, teething babies, my dad passing away and marital struggles, I have lost sight of a few important aspects of discipline for Mercedes. So I wrote out a list of reminders and hung it on my fridge to keep me focused on some of the things I've forgotten:
- Treat her with respect.
- Bend down to her level, give her eye contact, talk face-to-face.
- Speak in a respectful, calm tone of voice.
- Acknowledge her feelings.
- Ask her opinion or if she has any ideas when coming up with a solution.
- Be polite...Say please and thank you. Even sorry when necessary.
- Remember that high needs children feel challenged when they are pressured, cornered or forced into something.
- Keep the mood light with humor or turn it into a game.
- Give her choices.
- Give her reasons and explanations.
- Implement the chill spot and consequences...no punishments or spankings.
- Give reminders and warnings, not threats.
- Do not become emotional, angry, or take her attitude personally. When her emotions are out of control, she needs us to remain calm.
- Choose the most important battles. If it's not hurting anything or anyone, let it go.
- Keep it positive...substitute a phrase that starts with “no” or “don't” with a positive phrase about what's expected instead (Instead of “No grabbing”, say “Wait your turn, please”)
- Acknowledge and praise desirable behavior.
- Let her know we're on her side, that we understand her and we want to help...acknowledge her feelings and help her come up with solutions.
- Always end conflicts with hugs and reassurance of our love for her.
Be patient. Remember that she is TWO.