Hi there, everyone!
Welcome to the second post in The Mom Blog WI’s April A to Z Blogging Challenge. If you’re participating in the challenge, I hope you’re doing well and going strong on the third day here!
I wanted to talk a little bit about Behavior, Boundaries, & Balance today because these words are often used in relation to each other when talking about parenting, and have particularly been used with us and our family recently. It’s been weighing on my mind and I haven’t much liked the context in which they’ve been used, either.
If you haven’t heard already, our almost 3-year-old has recently had a speech delay identified, communicating and interacting more at an 11-17-month-old level, rather than the 33-month-old he is.
Today we finally officially enrolled our toddler in a Birth to 3yo Program. Usually all that’s needed to ensure a child qualifies is a 25% delay. Not only does our son have at least a 25% delay, but he’s also only communicating and expressing himself at an 11-17 month-old level.— Tresa | The Mom Blog WI (@TheMomBlogWI) March 13, 2019
Behavior, Boundaries, and Balance…
I’ve heard these words a lot recently when trying to get someone to take us seriously about the problems we are having with our toddler. “Ignore the bad behavior, reward the good behavior…” “Use time-outs, 1 minute for each year of age,” “Set clear boundaries and enforce them…” “Balance this with that, toddlers need balance,” or my personal favorite, “You just need to discipline him better.”
Blah, Blah, Blah!
I’m sick of it, really, but the part that bothered me the most was being told to ignore my son’s “bad behavior.”
“Ignore the bad behavior, reward the good behavior.”
My son isn’t displaying “bad behavior.” He isn’t spoiled; he isn’t acting out because he’s being “bad.” My toddler, who doesn’t even know the difference between bad and good behavior, isn’t displaying “bad” behavior. He is just behaving in the only way that he knows how!
Behavior is, “the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others.”
Let me just take a moment to say this; I love words. I love exploring definitions and really thinking about what that word means, what it really means or was intended to mean.
Now, our physician may not have meant to refer to his behavior as “bad behavior.” She may have just meant an undesired behavior, because, on some level, that’s what we are dealing with here is an undesired behavior. He is reacting to particular situations and stimulus in a way that we don’t care for, or that isn’t acceptable and we want to help guide him and help him figure out how to respond to and process those situations. But we don’t want to view that behavior as “bad.” We don’t want our son to think he is bad for struggling.
He’s not being bad. He’s just behaving and reacting the only way he knows how at this age. And we asked time and time again for ways to help him. “How can we help him through this?” We just wanted to know what tools we could use to help give him the tools to work through what he was going through.
“Ignore the bad behavior, reward the good behavior.”
It’s like a mantra in my had now and it grinds my gears every single time I think it.
One of my first posts early on as a blogger was called Mindful Parenting | Put Yourself in Your Toddler’s Shoes. And in that post, I talked about how eye-opening it can be to see the world from your Toddler’s place in life. And I tried to relate to my son as I went around one weekend and constantly told him, “No.” I was trying to set boundaries and he just wasn’t respecting those boundaries and it ultimately ended in just meltdown after meltdown. And I realized that I needed to look at my son’s tantrums in a different way, from a different perspective.
“We need to start looking at temper
Behavior, Boundaries, & Balance | "We need to start looking at temper tantrums as emotional communication, instead of behavioral outbursts.” #AtoZChallenge Click To Tweet
tantrums as emotional communication,
instead of behavioral outbursts.”
And nothing has ever rung truer in my mind. Temper tantrums are not our children acting “bad.” Temper tantrums should be seen as a type of emotional communication. Your child is trying to tell you they are frustrated! They are upset, and they don’t know how to communicate that to you! They are not misbehaving when they are having a meltdown. They are not spoiled rotten when they have a meltdown in the middle of the Target toy aisle; they don’t understand and they don’t know how to communicate that to you, and they don’t understand the why. They can’t comprehend that, yet.
Boundaries are not going to fix these “behavioral outbursts.” My child does not act out because I don’t set boundaries, not to mention that my son doesn’t even understand boundaries. It is not bad behavior that needs to be corrected. It is a communication gap that needs to be bridged. Your child is trying to communicate with you, trying to make a connection and understand what’s going on. And when I can’t understand my son and he can’t understand me, it’s no wonder everything ends up in a temper tantrum or meltdown. If I spent all day not being able to communicate with the outside world and no one understood me, I would probably get fed up and collapse in a pile of tears and sobs on the floor, too!
So the next time someone tells you that your toddler’s temper tantrum or behavioral outbursts are a reflection of your parenting or that you need to ignore your child’s “Bad Behavior,” don’t be afraid to tell them otherwise. You wouldn’t ignore a partner or loved one crying or venting or trying to communicate with you, so why would you ignore your child’s final, ditch-all, last attempt at communicating with you?
As always, thank you for following along on my blogging journey! If you enjoyed the second post in my Blogging A to Z Challenge, be sure to like and share it with your fellow parents and bloggers! Up next in the series will be the Letter C;
Connection & Communication!
Keep on lovin’ those little ones like only you know how,
and this week, don’t be afraid to advocate for your child and be a compassionate, reflective parent. Be a fierce and fearless parent, and don’t be afraid to show others how to be a little more compassionate!