Okay, here we go. Some people disagree with my parenting strategy for toddlers, but to hell with those people.
You use that good old behavioral psych. I hate behavioral psych, but it sure works. If they are doing something wrong, you make them have something bad happen that they don’t like.
But you don’t hit or yell at them. You are the grownup, so you can outsmart the little twerp. The toddler does not even see you pull the rug out from under him, and he hits the floor. Bang!
People say that is abusive, but is it really as traumatic as seeing your dad yelling “No!” with a scowl on his face?
You tell me I am abusive if I cause an accident to happen every time the kid gets out of line – for example, the rug comes out from under him, or something heavy falls on him – but that is not abusive. Accidents happen all the time whether I am there or not. In fact, if I was not there, the kid would have a lot more accidents.
So I say let the kid get whapped in the back of the head by some unseen projectile. You do not have to be the one to shout at the kid. If you shout at the kid every time he tries to get something he is not supposed to have… the kid will resent you and resist everything you say to him. Some asshole is reading this and judging me, thinking I am abusive for causing accidents to happen to the kid – but that same judgmental prick is going to become associated in his child’s mind with lots of negative experiences, like getting yelled at, being prevented from getting what you want, etc.
So, if you do not want your kid to resent you, do what I do: Trip the kid up in a sneaky way. You can literally trip him, or you can cause him to get hit by something. Then, you can be the one to pick him up, dust him off, and redirect him.
Ha ha, and one last thing: Parents should not say negatives to a kid. Kids don’t really understand negatives so well. A clear, positive activity is what you need. For example, it is more effective to tell a young child, “Play in the yard,” than it is to say, “Do not go on the street.” The first phrase brings his attention to the yard; the second phrase brings his attention to the street. Very clear instructions about taking positive action are easier to follow than abstract, negative instructions.
Most importantly, do not give the kid the stimulation he is seeking with his negative attention seeking behavior. No emotional reaction, only a swift consequence! Whap! But the trick is to never let the child know it was you who clobbered him with a couch cushion. All the kid will know is that he got knocked down all of a sudden.
And you were there to pick him back up after the fall.