Sunday, July 19, 2009

How "toddler" and "good behavior" become compatible

It's not that I hate children. I LOVE them to pieces! But when I go to church for Mass, I choose a spot that's reasonably far from where young kids are seated. Why? Basically, because they're so cute! And it's so easy for me to dwell on the cuteness of the little cuties and tease them by making googly eyes or other animated facial expressions. Each child can sure remind us of the God-given gift of life, but hardly does one ponder on the beauty and depth of God's giving of Himself in the Mass when it's a child's cuteness or amusing behavior that's grabbing their attention every two minutes.

The good thing is, toddlers--young as they are--are already capable of adjusting their behavior when called for, as when in church (in fact, toddlerhood is a great time to begin training a child in this). And parents will do well to empower themselves with strategies on how to help their young ones in this area.

Mommy Life wrote an insightful and helpful piece on her blog. An excerpt:

Teaching Children Self-Control

One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is self-control - a foundation built day by day as you teach your child to make decisions about his own behavior.

Remember that a child may be well-behaved for all the wrong reasons - fear of punishment or withdrawal of affection. This often results in a tendency to "act up" in awkward moments. In the long run, children raised to be outer-controlled rather than self-controlled may be more vulnerable later to peer pressure and rebellion.

The potential for self-control is best released during the toddler years, when the child is eager to do things for himself. We can capitalize on his natural inclination to master his environment by helping him master himself.

A young child has little to be steward over - except his own body. Challenge yours by offering opportunities to gain control:

"Let's see if we can close the door without a sound."

"Let's see if we can walk on this straight line."

"Let's see if we can hear this pin drop."

This provides a context for reminding a child not to fidget or lost his temper: "You are boss of your body. You can decide to sit still."

Another effective way to help your child develop self-control is to let him know in advance the kind of behavior you expect - at a party, in the grocery store, library, or church.

Read the whole thing here

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