Baby's First Year · Parenting

Positive parenting: Ideas to help guide children’s behaviour

baby standing in crib with mouth open trying to talk to parent. Grandparent in background.

Parents of children age birth to 6 years (or any age for that matter), will agree that parenting can be a difficult and challenging time. No matter how well you model behaviour and teach your child, no child can behave the way you want allthe time.

4 Tips to encourage positive behaviour:

  1. Make your surroundings safe and interesting for your child. Giving children the chance to explore freely in a child-safe space is an effective way to manage behaviour and encourage learning.
  2. Create family routines. Children feel more secure and have a better understanding of what’s expected of them when the same things happen in the same order every day.
  3. Praise and encourage your child. Be specific, timely and let them know that you notice when behaviours are positive.
  4. Role model positive behaviours. Be a good example and your child will learn by watching what you are doing. If you want your child to be polite, make sure they hear you saying “please” and “thank you.”

Positive parenting strategies are based on the age of the child, their stage of development and the temperament of the child and parent.

3 Strategies to consider based on the age of the child:

  1. Infants (birth to 18 months) are too young to know right from wrong. They need guidance, teaching, love and comfort.
  2. Toddlers (18 months to 36 months) are just learning to be independent. They learn by watching and copying. They need a calm environment, routines, warnings and transition times. Praise and positive attention works well.
  3. Pre-schoolers (3 to 4 years old) are beginning to follow directions and routines. They can follow a simple 3 step command, such as “Hang up your coat, put your shoes on the mat, and then we can have a snack.” Clear rules and limits, structure and consistency, help children have a sense of security and promote positive behaviour.

 4 Ideas to guide your child’s behaviour:

  • Keep in mind your child’s age and stage of development.
    Choose how to guide your child’s behaviour based on what they are able to do at their age. Sign up to receive free checklists, information on what to expect, and for activities based on your child’s age.
  • Distract and redirect.
    When baby wants something dangerous, take it away, then use distraction with another toy. Distraction can be used with toddlers as well. If they are doing something that is against the rules, lead them away gently by the hand, saying, “I want to show you something over here.”
  • Offer choices.
    When offering a choice, it’s best to ask a question that doesn’t require a yes/no answer. A toddler likes to say “no”. If you are giving a choice of what to wear, ask “Would you like to wear a jacket or a sweater?
  • Use clear communication.
    Use simple commands. Say what behaviour you would like to see. For example, “Sofas are for sitting” instead of “Don’t jump on the sofa”. Have your child repeat the command to make sure they understand.

Can you see yourself using any of these strategies?

If you have any questions about positive discipline, connect with a Public Health Nurse via eChat or call at (416) 338-7600.

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