My toddler mocks me!
Every parent goes through the issue of their child having a discipline issue. Whether it only happens as a young child, adolescent, or even as an adult varies. The most common case is during early childhood, where a toddler is testing their boundaries. The toddler age is the easiest stage to curb such behavior. The most common discipline issue is when your toddler mocks you and your partner. It is due to a garden variety of reasons, although it typically points to when they disagree with you. It can be because they do not want to stop watching TV or don’t want to pick up their toys. Regardless of the reasoning, it is inappropriate behavior which must cease immediately. Not only because it is disrespectful, but is often detrimental on a long-term basis. Of course, there is no reason to fret; there is a wide array of resources available offering solutions. Here are a few of many tips to experiment with to see what works best for you and your toddler.
1. Ensure you’re part of the solution, not the problem.
While it initially sounds redundant, it is more crucial than you think. What a lot of parents do not realize is they often play a role in their child’s actions. While a parent’s authority is to be upheld with respect, many knowingly and unknowingly cross boundaries to where it’s controlling. To further clarify, there is a difference between instructing your child and micromanaging your child. Be sure to listen to how your child is feeling, among other feedback, instead of simply ordering commands.
When there is open communication, there are often fewer issues from the child. Sometimes what seems like mocking or backtalk from a toddler is simply telling you they are uncomfortable. Such an example could be when a toddler is refusing to wear a jacket is not because they’re fussy. Instead, it’s because it is too small and hurting them, but they do not know how to communicate it specifically.
2. Explain why mocking you is not a game.
Children, especially toddlers, imitate their environment, so the mocking may not be out of disrespect. Instead, they may be interpreting it as a game of sorts and are simply imitating what they see and hear. It is why it is crucial always to set a good example. You must have your child understand mimicking everything you say is not a right or fun activity. Saying mocking hurts mommy or daddy’s feelings goes a lot farther than you think. Helping them understand mocking is not a fun game and is something serious that will make them realize the difference. Instill negative reinforcement and solidify to your child mocking is an adverse action that results in a toy taken away or no TV time.
3. Remain firm, but do no get overly angry.
A lot of times, parents discipline out of sheer anger and can go overboard only to regret it later. Perhaps the most important factor when engaging in discipline is not to do it when angry. Go for a walk, take a deep breath, sit down for a few minutes, or whatever is best beforehand. When your mind is clear, and your anger and frustration subsides, you can issue out proper discipline. Even after you confiscate your child’s toys or send them to bed early, you may feel a little guilty.
Holding firm punishments and making sure they last the designate duration will help curb your child from mocking you. Getting too emotional could also give your child the idea to continue mocking you just to get a reaction. Do not entertain your child nor fall into their trap of getting you into a bad mood. When you show them their mind games do not get under your skin, they will back down and realize you mean business. It shows them how serious you are, and there are boundaries they should not cross.
The remaining firm, but not angry, mindset will also prevent your child from resenting you, which is another mistake parents tend to make. There is a difference between your child respecting you and fearing you. The former ensures a healthy relationship as they go from toddler to adulthood instead of the latter.
4. Remind your child about the good they do.
One of the misconceptions your child may have is they are bad because they are experiencing discipline. It couldn’t be any further from the truth! When helping your toddler understand while mocking you is a bad action, they are not bad. A good way to showcase they are great is to remind them of the good accomplishments they have. An effective way to accomplish them is to praise them when reaching a new milestone. Introducing positive reinforcement is also beneficial to instilling in your toddler the difference between a good action and a bad one. Studies have shown when children regularly have positive reinforcement, they tend to know the difference when facing discipline.
5. Stay consistent.
One of the flaws with improving parenting skills is the lack of consistency. Parents will stay firm for the first week of curbing behavior but fall back into old habits. Sometimes due to laziness or becoming busy. Other times due to caving and getting discouraged from their child’s lack of instant progress. Keep in mind it will take time to stop your toddler from mocking you, and learning such behavior is unacceptable.
It takes a few weeks to get used to a new routine but keep persisting even when it seems like no progress is being made. Parenting and discipline are skills, and like any other skill needing to be honed, more progress is being made every day. Even if it is only minuscule, anything going forward is progress nonetheless. Give it at least a month or two before adjusting the guidelines and tips you pick up from resources. Do not forget you are not alone, and there is help available.