Quality time. We all know that spending quality time with our kids is good. It creates lasting memories and relationships and all that good stuff. But did you also know that it can improve your toddlers behavior (aka. less tantrums) and get them to listen and comply more willingly?
So what does quality time look like? It looks like more positive interactions, and less distractions.
Did you know research shows that our kids need 5 positive interactions with us for every negative interaction? That means every time you tell your child no, get upset with them, etc, you need to give them five hugs, kisses, I’m so proud of you’s, smiles, etc. Think of our kids as having an emotional piggy bank, negative interactions equals a withdrawal and positive interactions equal a deposit. If we have too many withdrawals (negative interactions) without making a deposit (positive interactions), we’ll be running a negative balance. When you have a bank account with a negative balance, it’s hard to buy bread, clothes, etc. The same goes for your child, when your child’s piggy bank is runny a negative balance, they’re not going to want to listen to you or comply because you haven’t built that relationship back up with them. I know 5 positive interactions for every negative interaction sounds like a lot of work, but it’s actually very simple. Smile when they walk into the room, read them a book, rub their back when they’re playing with their toys, tell them when they do something you like, play with them, etc.
The one thing your toddler wants and needs most is YOU. They’d probably tell you it’s a new toy, Paw Patrol, or ice cream for lunch, but what they really want most is your quality time and undivided attention. And they deserve that. And when they get that, their behavior is so. much. better. Pay attention to the next time your child is behaving poorly. What are you doing when they’re making the decision to behave poorly/doing something they know they’re not supposed to do? Are you checking your email? Are you on your phone? Are you washing dishes? Are you distracted from your child? If so, then the reason they are misbehaving is most likely because they want your attention. Whether it’s good attention or bad attention, to a child, attention is attention, and they will do whatever it takes to get your attention. Toddlers don’t know how to verbalize to you that they want your attention, so instead they do whatever they know will get your attention, and a lot of times that is by doing something they’re not supposed to do.
When your toddler is misbehaving to get your attention, don’t acknowledge the misbehavior. Instead, ignore it (giving it attention only reinforces that behavior), and do one of two things…1) simply walk away from whatever is distracting you and pick up a toy or start reading a book and say “do you want to play with me?” Most likely, their misbehaving behavior will only last 30 seconds to a minute longer, and then they’ll happily play with you. Even just 20 minutes of quality, undistracted time with your child will greatly improved their behavior. When you’ve filled up their piggy bank with your quality time, they won’t be trying to get your attention by whining, misbehaving, or throwing tantrums. Once their piggy bank is full, you can go back to finishing the task you were doing without a needy, whiny, or misbehaving toddler trying to get your attention. 2) Get your toddler involved with your task you are doing. This way you have quality time with them and still get done what you need to get done. For example, have them wash the dishes with you, or sing songs with your toddler while you’re washing dishes. It’s a win win.
I hope this encourages you to spend some positive quality time with your kids, and I hope that you see all the good that comes from it 🙂