Stephen and I started explaining things to Malachi (in simple terms) at about one year of age. If he gets in trouble for something, we explain to him what he did wrong and why it's not okay. Not only do we thoroughly explain things to him, we get down on HIS level and make him look us in the eyes. You shouldn't be yelling your point across every 5 minutes at them. We are around our son enough to know that he knows what his limits are. Kids will be kids and they are GOING TO test their limits, which is why you ABSOLUTELY have to be consistent. There is nothing more frustrating than being in public and hearing other parents threaten to take action if the mishap occurs again, and as it usually does, they don't follow through. Your kid(s) will walk all over you if you allow them to.
One of the biggest things parents are scared of is being too strict and making their kids hate/resent them. I strongly believe that kids only hate/resent their parents when there is an absence of LOVE. Don't try to be your kid's best friend because it's just not healthy, you don't have to give your child everything they want in order to make them love you back.
I'm done with my little rant and our son is not perfect but he's well behaved for the most part so if you are still curious here is a little list of things we do and DON'T do:
- When he DOES do something wrong, we don't wait to address it. This way it's still fresh in his mind.
- What daddy says, goes. we don't play the favorites/spouse betrayal game.
- When he does something right or kind, he gets rewarded to help influence more good behavior
- When he does something that's not okay, he reaps the consequences(time-out, no tv/movies, etc)
- If he makes a mess, he gets to clean it up
- We don't count to 3, because it gives him 3 chances to defy us and he shouldn't get more than one.
- If he is crying/whining, we don't give him what he wants until he stops and can calmly ask for it politely.
Just remember that even if you don't agree with some of the things WE do, know that we have at least one thing right, and that is consistency. There isn't one set way to parent, so also keep in mind that if what you are doing ISN'T working, it's time to try something new. Stay inspired and hug your little ones tonight.