Safe and helpful.
If you think about it, these are the ONLY RULES YOU NEED to guide a toddler’s behavior.
Young children do not benefit from long lectures or explanations when they are misbehaving, and when they are out of control, they won’t hear you anyway, so don’t waste your breath. Try to ward off negative behavior quickly by asking one of two simple questions: Is that safe? OR Is that helpful?
If the behavior already happened, it’s not too late.
Ask the question- state a simple resolution- and then proclaim your hope for a better next time.
1.) When you hit your brother, was that safe? No, he’s hurt. Let’s go get the boo-boo sponge. We need to make him feel better. I know you’ll be safe next time.
2.) When you refused to clean up your toys, was that helpful? No, we didn’t have time to go to the park. We missed out on the fun. I know you’ll be helpful tomorrow.
The rule “In our family we are safe and helpful.” helps to alleviate the power struggle. It’s no longer about what you want or what they want. It becomes a matter of whether or not it is safe and helpful.
Children catch on to this concept quickly, and they are able to internalize it and use it as their own personal guide, which is the exact reason we discipline in the first place, right? To teach them to understand what is right and what is wrong, or in this case, what is safe and what is helpful!