Question: How can I start some of the character training concepts and habits that you describe with a toddler?
Answer: If you are just starting out with your family and have only a toddler, you have the perfect opportunity to start out right in the character training of your children! I will offer some general tips below, but even more importantly than the “daily ins and outs” of the ideas I recommend, I suggest that you read Parenting Paradigms at this blog. Even if you take to heart some of the ideas for your little one given in this Q and A, in the end, you will be more successful at character training if you have a firm handle on what you believe about parenting and children.
Toddler Character Training Tips:
1. Start adapting the toddler to your schedule and your family’s lifestyle as soon as you can (six to nine months) rather than making your family’s life revolve around the little one’s “wants.” You want to enjoy your toddler within the dynamics that your family already has (with the addition of the joy and wonder that a toddler brings into the family, of course)—as opposed to making everything change to meet unnecessary and often damaging demands that a toddler who is given his own way all the time can often make.
2. Remember that you are setting the stage right now for your child’s “tastes” (follow us on PP 365 or schedule our seminar for more details about this important concept).
a. You can set his tastes for defiance (allowing screaming, throwing, thrashing, and “no” from him) or submission.
b. You can set his tastes for selfishness and meanness (allowing hitting or other forms of striking, giving in to him when he wants something that someone else has, always making his surroundings whatever he wants (i.e. no bedtime, no sitting in high chair, etc.) due to “fits” or for kindness, gentleness, sweetness, and tenderness.
c. You can set his tastes for hyper-stimulation and activity (too much running; no scheduled down times; television and videos all the time) or for simple things (books, healthy toys, rest, etc.).
d. You can set his tastes to lack focus and not enjoy learning (again, too much video, not starting out with books and simple music; an avalanche of cartoons and children’s programming (some of which are developed in two second bits to keep up with short attention spans, thus, causing kids’ attention spans not to lengthen as they should) or a love for learning (via books, strong family learning and discussion times, etc.).
Tomorrow—deciding “behavior absolutes” for your toddler and establishing routines.