When your child misbehaves, the last thing you want to do is sink to his level, yelling and losing your temper yourself. What you want to do is redirect his behavior. During the heat of the moment, this is sometimes difficult to do. If you anticipate and have a plan, though, you’ll have an easier time.
Let Kids Be Kids
Impose limitations, but don’t squash exploration completely. Toddlers learn by pushing the boundaries, by handling things and by destroying things. Rather than losing your temper after seeing the work papers you brought home demolished, create a safe environment where your toddler is free to examine her surroundings. Childproofing lessens the amount of time you have to redirect or say, “No.”
Redirecting your child uses a positive parenting style. You are not just punishing; you are showing your child what he is supposed to do. Set a positive parenting foundation and build trust by creating a nurturing environment for your child and by praising him when he is acting appropriately. After you set the foundation, you can let you child know what your expectations are for him.
Forget about redirecting during a full-blown tantrum because your child is not in a state to hear you. If you are at home, make sure your child cannot hurt herself, then ignore her. If you are in public, calmly take your child away from the situation. The tantrum is usually just an attempt to get your attention. When you don’t give into it, the tantrum should end sooner.
Redirecting a Young Child
When your child knows the rules but breaks them anyway by engaging in a taboo behavior, stop him and direct him to a more appropriate activity. For example, tell your son that snatching a toy from his sister’s hand is wrong, while directing him to the toy box to pick another toy. Or, if your child is full of energy and starts running around the house or jumping on the furniture, take him outside to play.
Redirecting an Older Child
For an older child who only wants to argue with you instead of listening, it won’t do you any good to try to shout her down. To use redirecting in this instance, listen to what your daughter is telling you. Repeat it back so that she knows you heard her, while redirecting her attention back to your point. For example, if you are explaining why she can’t attend a particular party, expect her to be angry and tell you why she has to go. Listen to her reason, and say that you would be disappointed, too, if you could not go to the party. Then, explain that you won’t allow her to attend a party where the parents are not present. She may still be mad, but you dignified her feelings and provided the explanation. You redirected her anger.