Friday, March 27, 2009

What Do You Mean My Toddler Doesn't Think Like Me?

I don't know if it was the EDU 101 class I took in college, or some other experience of mine, but I've always known that children process information differently than adults. What I mean is, they are not little adults. Their brains don't work the same way as ours.

When Bruce told me about recent research that seemingly* proved this while surprising the researchers, I didn't understand it. I thought it was common knowledge that our brains worked differently as we got older.

One way I've worked around this with Charlotte is to begin using "if, then" statements. As in, "if you want to go play outside, then you must put your shoes on." It works in almost every circumstance. Well, at least the ones where she wants the outcome I am offering.

I think this might be called Love & Logic, but I have been too lazy to look it up. I know I learned about the "if, then" method when I was in new teacher training. It worked with my students most of the time, and has been working with Charlotte since I started using it in February.

In addition to her learning sign language, this is another way we are trying to avoid tantrums at our house.

What are your tips for avoiding tantrums?

*Edited so you don't think I was trying to say Bruce thought research could prove anything or that he agreed with the researcher's premise and/or conclusions.


  1. OK, well I wouldn't say the research "proved" something, since science supports or refutes, but never proves.

    In addition, you make it sound as if I was surprised by this research, just like the researchers. As a cognitive development researcher (how often do I get to throw that around?), I also have known for some time that toddlers think differently.

    Our knowledge of toddlers' thinking processes goes back to Jean Piaget, who studied children several decades ago and discovered that humans progress through stages of cognitive development. In other words, toddlers don't think like adults.

  2. Tantrums? I am an expert in tantrums! Especially with Lottie. All I will say is the calmer you remain the calmer they remain. The less attention they receive from it the better. Teach her to pray and talk to God when she is frustrated...she is a little young but it is never to early to start.

  3. The best way to respond to misbehavior comes from the Bible. It's not "PC" but IMO, it's correct:

    Proverbs 13:24

    The problem with many of today's parents is they don't 'like' to discipline, so they look to popular, feel-good philosophies that discount what God has to say in His book and they choose to ignore what Proverbs 13 says.

    IMO, if you love your child, you will diligently and consistently discipline them. It is no 'fun' when you are doing it (for them or for you) but it is the loving thing to do!

  4. I STRONGLY recommend the book "Sheparding your Child's Heart"... while I don't agree with 100% of it, there isn't a book out there that I agree with 100% of save The Bible. This book talks about going to the root of the problem (SIN), and working to change your child's heart. As a mom of a 4 year old 3 year old and 1.5 year old (or almost), I can see HOW TRUE this is. I can punish my children for misbehaving, but if I don't talk to them about why it was wrong, and help them to want to do right, then it is not really teaching them anything.
    The one thing I would remember - DON'T COUNT! haha
    The whole 1,2,3 thing just teaches them to obey you when you get to 3 - not immediate obedience. I just think that as my kids get older I am learning so much about how I need to have high expectations, I expect them to hear my voice and obey it immediately... after they obey we can talk about why I asked them to do something. But I do know that living where we live it is very important that they obey quickly!
    Okay - so tantrums... it kind of depends on the situation... it is hard to avoid them, as tiredness can play into it, and just being 2 can play into it! With Nate (yes he has started already), I usually ignore them if we are home, but if we were out, i would talk quietly but firmly in his ear. The girls don't do it in public and even now rarely do it at home. Very rare. If the tantrum is in response to something I have told them, then they will receive a spanking and we will talk and pray about what they did wrong.

  5. I am going to try the "if/then" conversations with my boys! Except that would be "si/entou." I do this a bit naturally but will give it a try being much more purposeful about it. Thanks for the tip!

  6. Same with Laura - I've done this naturally to some extent, but think I will try to be more deliberate!

    The one thing I've tried to do is say "no" less often, so when I do, I really mean it. I use diversions, substitutions, or often realize that the "no" isn't REALLY necessary - like when Esme wanted to help decorate her cake this morning. It didn't turn out exactly like I wanted, but does that really matter?!

    I do struggle with the tantrums when they occur. Like with this morning's Monster drink - there was NO way I was going to give in and let her have any of that caffeinated stuff. We offered her just about every other kind of drink and compromised by letting her drink juice out of the Monster can when it was empty, which solved the tantrum. But I'm not sure how to get her not to throw the tantrum in the first place.

    Fortunately she is generally pretty good natured, and I hope she stays that way!


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