Granted, she’s only two years old. I’m just beginning to understand that a 2-year-old doesn’t care about your feelings. I am noticing that she has her own agenda. She is happy when she is happy, and upset when she is upset, and has no problem letting me know when she’s upset. Ha!
To get her to listen to me, I’ve tried to bribe her with viewing of Disney’s “Frozen.” When she’s standing or the coffee table or hitting the TV screen, I’ve asked for her compliance in exchange for snacks. Sometimes I’ll flip my lid and aggressively grab her by the arm and say “I said NO … you need to stop. Do you want to go to your room?!” On weekends, I find myself saying this at least 6 to 8 times a day.
Yet my aggression doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t want her to feel that I am consistently acting like an authoritarian. I’m not sure if you all have these feelings as well; if parents with young kids or even teenagers worry about this, too. I know for me, it’s important to step away from the situation (physically and mentally).
I’ve been turning to this book for guidance: “A Primer on Adlerian Psychology: Behavior Management Techniques for Young Children.” Author Alex Chew says “all human behavior has a purpose. If we know what a person wants, then we can best predict that person’s behavior. Therefore, goal directedness (purposiveness) is probably the most important explanation in our understanding of behavior and misbehavior.”
I know it sounds daunting to say we need to know what children are thinking in order to help them behave better. Still, I think putting myself in my daughter’s shoes will probably help me in the long run. The best way that I’ve found out how to do this is ask questions. In my case, asking a two-year-old questions is a little more challenging. Still, this is part of the “connect before you correct” process, this finding out why she is acting a certain way.
In my world, I ask a lot of qualifying questions, like “Is the reason you’re standing on the coffee table is that you want a ride on daddy’s back? In order to get on daddy’s back you’ll have to say, ‘Piggy back ride, Daddy!’”
Well, I’ve done this a few times and it works well. Just thinking about it here makes me hope she doesn’t make getting on the coffee for a piggy back ride with Daddy a habit. Maybe that’s not the best example for you all! Eeeekk!
You see what I’m getting at through. She’s gotten on the table because she’s clearly seeking to get my attention on her. I’m trying to acknowledging her frustration and then turning a potential negative situation (me snatching her off that table abruptly while yelling “No!”) into a positive statement or activity.
It’s all about creating a great family atmosphere. Alfred Adler describes this as “Family Constellation.” This is the interaction between members of the family. Parents are responsible for establishing this pattern and presenting it to their children as a standard for social living, says Adler. While the book has much more good information than I can share here, I try to keep it simple for my needs, too. Basically, Adler tells parents this: Remain positive and patient, and everything else will take care of itself. Simple right? OK, it’s totally not, but my back is growing stronger with every piggy back ride!