There were times in new motherhood I was desperate and drowning — in questions, exhaustion, and insecurity. And just when I thought I couldn’t make it one…more… minute, someone rescued me.
There’s a woman, a goddess really, who got us through years of toddler behavior issues and trying times. I could turn on her show, Supernanny, and feel like it wasn’t all that bad. We used her advice so often the term “Supernanny” became a verb in my house. “Just Supernanny him,” we’d say.
I was thrilled to get a chance to speak with release years of pent up groupie adoration on Supernanny Jo Frost, who is as passionate about helping families as ever. Oh, and I got the best toddler advice from her new book, JO FROST’S TODDLER RULES: Your 5-Step Guide to Shaping Proper Behavior, too. Here are the top tips that worked in our house.
The Marble Jar
“Parents shape behavior. You’re teaching your kids how to communicate with you,” Jo teaches. To encourage good behavior, give a marble and praise every time you see your toddler doing something awesome. For example, if you’re working on saying “please,” give a marble every time he does. He’ll love being immediately recognized (and the sound of the cling! as it drops in his special jar). In my house, we created a chart (I had my kids help draw the circles), and when the chart was filled, they got a prize. I love how this tactic reminded me to praise my kids, and it’s also a learning experience to count the marbles!
This Bed is My Bed
Sometimes it’s like the bed is a trampoline and when the kids finally go down, they just pop right back up! Following Jo’s advice, the first time they got up we got what they needed, explained bedtime is for sleeping, and not to get up again. The second time, we talked and made eye contact less (a simple “it’s bedtime now, love”). The third time, even less. The fourth time and every time after that, we took them back to bed without talking or making eye contact. After a few nights, my kids got so bored with the lack of interaction they stopped getting up. “You can’t just use one parenting style. You need to be a disciplinarian sometimes, passive other times, and be able to recognize when different styles will work,” Jo says.
The S.O.S. Method
You know when you catch your kid doing something completely insane, like ripping a toy out of his sister’s hands, and you jump in and try to take control of a situation based on what you saw in a split second? Do this instead: “Before you react, S tep back to see the whole picture, O bserve your kids and look around for clues as to what’s really going on. Then S tep in with a decision to fix the problem with resolve,” Jo advises. “It might take time at the beginning, but trust me, by now I’m stepping back and observing in the two seconds I’ve taken to cross the room!” she jokes.
You can get all of Jo’s toddler tips in JO FROST’S TODDLER RULES: Your 5-Step Guide to Shaping Proper Behavior , follow her at @jo_frost, or visit her at http://www.jofrost.com/
What are your go-to toddler taming tips?
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