You know the old saying, 'You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar'? When it comes to correcting annoying toddler behaviour, this old adage is spot on! Giving your words and approach a positive twist can be much more effective than telling your toddler to 'Stop!' or 'Do not do that!' over and over again. Here, three positive parenting techniques to try (with plenty of specific examples to get you started!). 

Turn a negative into a positive.

You can often avoid power struggles with one simple trick: Tell your child what to do, rather than what not to do. Correcting behaviour with positive statements makes kids feel more respected. For example:  

  • 'Chairs are for sitting' rather than 'Stop standing on the chair.'
  • 'Slow down!' versus 'Do not run!'
  • 'Keep the water in the bathtub' instead of 'No splashing!'
  • 'You usually keep your feet off the new sofa, but I guess today you forgot.'
  • 'If you would like to throw something, let us take your ball outside.'
  • 'I need you to use your big-girl asking voice' rather than 'Stop whining!'

Be playful.

Another way to keep it positive is to be a little playful. Once you start thinking about how to get your message across effectively, you will probably come up with dozens more ways that will make your rules seem more like play than like orders.

  • For the child who is dawdling when you need to rush, try whispering what you want her to do or challenge her to a race to see who can get shoes on fastest. (During the race, play the boob by repeatedly dropping your shoes, so your child can win.)
  • A fun way to help a child who has trouble making transitions is to make a trumpet sound to announce what is coming next.
  • Play a catchy 'getting ready song' and challenge your child to finish getting dressed before it ends.
  • Pretend to clean up as monsters (or dinos or unicorns...or whatever excites your tot), crawling around on all fours and picking up toys with your 'big monster claws' or 'sparkly rainbow unicorn hooves!'

Make a fun-demand sandwich.

Sandwich your demands between the mention of two fun activities to soften the blow of doing something that's not-so-fun.

  • 'Let us play with your trains. After that, we can pick up your toys. Then, it will be time for a snack! What yummy-licious food should we eat for snack today?'
  • 'Let us race to the stroller. Then, we are going to leave the park. When we get home, you can call Grammy!'
  • 'Pick out the PJs you like best. Do you want to wear yellow or green? After that, we are going to change your diaper. Then, we will read books. Which bedtime story do you want tonight?'
  • 'You are having so much fun playing with your dolls. In five minutes, it will be time to take a bath. Then, you will get to splash with your ducky!'

More positive parenting tips:

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.