Parenting Diaries - Rules are good!
Topic for today's discussion is Rules.
Setting some ground rules with kids is a must. This helps for what is called as consistent parenting. And no age is too early for rules. But for toddlers rules need to be a bit more flexible. That does not mean the rules cease to exist.
Setting the limits with your toddler.
I have seen parents of 1 and 2 year olds who think their kids are too young to be disciplined. So these kids are not corrected when they refuse to share or push and shove. Especially if the kid they are playing with is older than them! Uh? It is very essential to discipline toddlers and set limits. This is the age they learn to be independent and the need for discipline thereby presents itself! Toddlers are a lot like teenagers that way. They constantly attempt to test the limits. And if you don't act now, you are going to have a very difficult kid on your hands!
Having said all this it is very difficult to discipline a toddler. They are not mature enough to control their impulses or remember all the rules that you lay. Don't push them, but every time gently assert the rule and make sure they follow it. One day they will start following it. (Pict Courtesy: www.htcacademic.mnscu.edu)
I remember this kid we saw, when we were out for dinner once. The kid was about 3 years old and running around the restaurant and getting under everyone's table. The parents enjoyed an uninterrupted meal. I wanted to walk up and say "This is a public place, where everyone comes to relax.. your kid needs to sit down and behave". This is a ground rule.
Same with movie theaters. Whats with the kids howling and screaming there? Either you hire a baby sitter and leave them at home. Or you leave the theater the minute the tantrum starts. There are 100 people there who have paid to enjoy a movie, and I bet they can use some quiet!
Whats mine is not yours!
Whats with letting your kids touch everything in your house. At a very young age I told my son what was his and what is mine. He was never allowed to play with my mobile phone or operate the remote. This indulgence I think is unnecessary.
A friend allows her kid to operate the I POD and DVD Player. Result, she can no longer control the kid's TV Schedule. When the kid wants TV she switches it on herself! I was discussing this with another friend the other day,,and she told me how a friend of hers has bought his kid a portable DVD Player. A 3 yr old no less plays with the portable player.
And another friend laments that his kids switch on the TV and figure out the password lock so he can't control them.
My mom had a simple answer to this when we were kids. We were latch key kids and would be home all afternoon , while she returned in the evening. My mom would remove the cable wire and hide that. Simple but very effective!
On this note.. do you leave glass bowls and pebbles on side tables? Do you have photo frames on them? What do you do when your child touches them? I have all this paraphernalia. And every time a 3,4,5 yr old comes to my house (forget the younger kids), I am forced to move all this out of sight! Kids need to be taught that everything they see or can reach is not a toy! I understand how this can be difficult for younger kids - under 2 or even 3. Then you move the temptation out of sight. But for 4 and 5 year olds, they should be taught what are off limits.
I once took a box of candy when we went for lunch to a friend's place. The 5 yr old proceeded to open the box and devour the candy all at the same time. The parents did not think to take the box and put it away or tell her that it was not ok to eat so much candy!
Even we are sometimes tempted to break the rules. So I let it go at times without fuss. And give him some opportunities to unwind. Like wrestling with him within the confines on the bed. Or letting him tear up some old paper with his toy knife (Nantu loves that). Or if the kid is not allowed to jump around at home, give him a place where they can do that. They need time to run around and jump and tumble. Make sure they have the time and place for all that.
Reward good behavior
Last but not the least, make sure you reward good behavior. The reward can be as simple as a word of praise and an applause or a toy. Both work effectively to tell your child that you appreciate the effort it took to be good!
Parenting I have found is not so easy. But it is a lot of fun. Before I go, I would love for all of you to share your take on this topic. I am a new parent too, stumbling along in this unknown world. So please share how you handle each of these issues. I would also like you to tell me if this helped you.. should I go on with parenting diaries??
[Edited to add .. I am really glad to get such wonderful response from all of you. And the arguments each of you is presenting is truly wonderful and serves as an eye opener for me! Helps me get a different perspective.. I am glad I made this post.]