Destiny Molatore | moms@nrtoday.com

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April 13, 2014
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How to set boundaries and be consistent with toddlers | Moms

Douglas County Moms put out a request for moms to submit reasons they think being a parent is hard.

For me, the number one reason is because you have to be consistent with schedules, expectations, discipline, or pay the consequences.

Oftentimes it would be nice to let something slide so you can finish your lunch (or shower, make-up, conversation, writing, cleaning, etc.).

It is never fun to interrupt whatever you are doing to correct an attitude or behavior.

But you know the saying, “If you give them an inch, they take a mile.” I would like to believe that is an exaggeration, but my experience has proved this to be true, at least with young children.

Yesterday was a particularly difficult day. I looked outside to find my son removing all of the sprinkler heads from the irrigation system we put in the garden (and burying them).

Then I discovered that the food in the freezer had thawed because he had turned the temperature settings for the refrigerator and freezer to low.

He gets into so much mischief that I can’t even imagine or expect.

I’m constantly having to figure out which things to discipline and how to respond. I was having trouble keeping up, let alone staying on top of things.

I needed a few things to be “no-brainers” – ground rules with set consequences so I could be consistent.

I told my son, “I think we are going to make some house rules today. Do you know what that is?”

“No, mommy,” he corrected me. “It’s cinnamon rules.”

After getting over his disappointment that we were not in fact making cinnamon rolls, we sat down to make the house rules.

Since he is only two-and-a-half, I knew I would have to make it as simple and straight forward as possible.

I took little sheets of paper, wrote one rule on each and then illustrated it with a stick figure drawing.

I’m sure that Pinterest has a prettier way of doing this, but for my own sanity I couldn’t wait another minute to get something down on paper.

After drawing the pictures, I gave them to my son to color.

I asked him to tell me what was happening in the pictures. Then I explained what they meant.

Surprisingly, it played out like an episode of Supernanny.

He got excited about the rules and pictures. He could easily identify them and with a serious face tell me what they meant and give examples.

No sooner had I hung the pictures on the wall than he broke one of the rules. I took him over to the pictures and asked him to explain the rule to me.

Then I put his time-out chair in front of the rules so he could review them while he sat there.

We have now done this a number of times.

The written rules provide clear boundaries for us and give consistent language to talk about behavior.

I don’t have to think about how to respond or what the consequence should be.

I know that he knows he broke the rule and therefore I know I must enforce it.

This isn’t rocket science. Every teacher begins the year by going over the classroom rules.

The house rules are the first thing that Supernanny initiates when she is helping a desperate family.

I wasn’t sure that a two-and-a-half year old would understand the visual aids, but it turns out he was more than old enough.

Consistency is hard, but it is even harder if you haven’t clearly defined what things you need to be consistent with.

Thankfully, making house rules is pretty easy, as long as you make time to do it.

This isn’t rocket science. Every teacher begins the year by going over the classroom rules.


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The News-Review Updated Apr 19, 2014 07:45AM Published Apr 21, 2014 07:57AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.