AS a teacher of first-grade students, my job was to teach reading, writing, math, and concepts related to science and social studies, and also to help children with their resilience regarding their place in our classroom community. Primary caregivers are critical in helping children develop resiliency and become confident positive engaged member in different environments. Here are some tips to help little ones develop resiliency and cooperation:
Young toddlers learn through play – both when they are playing by themselves, and as they play with their peers. Free play is great, but be nearby to keep an eye on how your child interacts with others. It’s normal for toddlers to feel everything is theirs, and to have difficulty sharing. A caregiver can intervene when needed to gently guide and teach what sharing and cooperation looks like. Shaping a child’s behavior is ongoing and evolves over time. Through many positive supportive interactions with caregivers, a child learns appropriate behavior that carries over to different settings.
Avoid the urge to “fix” all your child’s problems. Instead, be there to support, listen and encourage your child to examine ways they may be able to solve their problems. Often, in the process of active listening, your child may be able to come up with some great ways to solve problems. Not only will this process help your child come up with a solution that is right for them, but it will empower your child, and help them develop a “toolbox” of problem solving skills that will grow and develop with them when you’re not around.
Don’t be afraid to discipline. Discipline done well is firm, yet positive and consistent. AT times it can be exhausting but will pay off with huge rewards for your child as their world gets larger and larger. THE best discipline as far as I am concerned is logical consequences as there is no shame, or negative judgement involved. AND pick your battles carefully – examine what is critical for you as a caregiver. If EVERYTHING is most important , both you and your child will always be butting heads, and you will be EXHAUSTED!!!! Think about what will be expected of your child as they leave the nest, and enter other settings – and cooperation and getting along with others is pretty important!
BE a model of cooperation and positivity for your child. Children learn what they live. AND little ones notice EVERYTHING!
THINK back and try to remember how you felt as a child. Parents, caregivers and teachers can be pretty overpowering and it doesn’t take much for some children to be overwhelmed with demands of caregivers. Know your child, and respect their sensitivity levels. AGAIN – this doesn’t mean no discipline. Children feel safer when they know a caregiver, parent is in charge. Structure and loving discipline is appreciated and needed – especially when a child feels out of control!
When your child has a meltdown – this is because they need to vent and are feeling out of control but they aren’t mature enough or don’t have the skill to cope with their frustrations. Provide a safe space to meltdown and be nearby to reassure your child that they are loved and even though they may be out of control – you are not and you are there to help them feel safe. And then work on helping them develop skill to deal with frustration. IF your simply give your child what they want when they have a tantrum or meltdown, you are reinforcing this behavior and it will keep happening.
Parenting can be exhausting at times and there are many days when it feels easier to just give in to a demanding toddler. Short term – that’s true – but long term you will only make thing more difficult for you and your child. Pick your battles wisely!