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Helpful Toddlers? That's a thing?!

Children, when they’re between the ages of two and four, are typically inclined to be helpful, generous and loving. While it’s true that this is the age of toddlerhood and the dreaded temper tantrums, it is also the age when children cry out for the most amount of attention. Tantrums are sometimes a direct result of inadequate attention or children being taught (albeit not consciously) that if they wail and cry they’ll get the object of their desire.

Parents and caregivers need to understand how to help children become a natural and contributing member of the household rather than constantly admonishing them. This approach will build upon the positive attributes that are inherently built into every child’s psyche.

The attributes present in every child from an early age are:

  • Willingness to help
  • Willingness to share
  • Need for self-respect
  • Need for attention and praise

Here’s how a parent or caregiver, can bring out a child’s existing inclination to do good things!

Let Children Help!

When toddlers see adults doing chores around the house, they feel inclined to join in. This is the point when most adults will caution children to be careful with admonitions such as “don’t touch or you’ll break it” or “don’t do it, it’ll create a mess”. It is imperative for adults to reverse this behavior by actually enlisting a child’s help with chores. This will help in generating positive feelings in a child and grow a toddler's confidence.

Here are some ways to encourage children to be helpful:

 ♡  Ask children for help with dusting furniture, being careful to let them dust in safe areas such as on the couch, or on the coffee table, etc. Children can use a dust rag, a tissue, or even a feather duster.

 ♡ Enlist a child’s help in laying the table using plastic cutlery and plastic table mats. Hold the child above the table if need be to accomplish this.

 ♡ Make a game of putting toys away everyday. For example, it is nearly as much fun building a Lego block as it is demolishing it block by block and tossing the blocks back inside the bag!

These techniques help enhance a toddler's built-in antennae for helping and contributing.

♡ Give Toddlers Choices

Children feel so helpless when they are restricted in what they can and cannot do. Sometimes just giving them some options that won’t hurt or harm anyone is the key to giving them some measure of control.

The solution is to give them choices!

    Pick out two outfits for young kids to wear to school and let them choose their favorite one.
    Pick out a few bedtime books and let children choose which ones will be read on a particular night.
    Choose two different fruits and ask kids which they’d like to have for a snack.

Using these techniques will help children feel good about themselves because they will realize they are part of the solution and directing some (albeit small) part of their own life!

♡ Talk To Kids Like They Understand Every Word

Talking to children seriously and using simplified logic can sometimes work wonders with testing their level of comprehension. The results can be impressive if this approach is followed through on a regular basis.

Here are some tips on talking to children:

   → While its okay to use baby talk occasionally, save it for cuddle time. Use proper English to explain and answer the endless “whys” and “hows” of a toddler.
    →Use simplified explanations. For example if a child asks “why do I have to brush my teeth?” a really simple answer would be “So that your teeth don’t turn yellow. Yellow means dirty teeth (said with a frown) and white means clean teeth! (said with a smile)”
   → Never ignore a child who is asking questions and never answer the question with a vague answer. If a parent doesn’t know the answer simply acknowledge not knowing it and then help the child find the answer (by looking it up on the net or asking someone else, etc)

♡ Treat Children With Respect

This one’s pretty straightforward. Saying “thank you”, “sorry”, and other niceties will help a child learn that he/she is someone to be respected. Self-respect grows from the respect a parent showers on the child.

♡ Showcase Desirable Behavior for Kids to Emulate

When children see an adult performing chores around the house, being polite and generally behaving well, they're likely to do the same. Children usually have one ear tuned to what adults around them are saying and doing, even when seemingly busy playing with their toys. The best way to get them to exhibit a certain behavior is for adults around them to teach by example.

Every parent should harness the positive characteristics present in children from a very young age. Too soon they may be turning into rebellious teens anyway! Therefore the best time to inculcate good behavior is in toddlerhood – this increases their chances of following the same behavior when they become adults.

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