Positive Reinforcement During The Terrible Twos

bring out the best in your toddler

Every toddler going through the terrible twos stage is going to make mistakes. They are learning what is acceptable and what is not. While these things may be obvious to you (e.g. you should share toys, not hit other people etc) it is not something you are born with.

It takes time to develop and understand social rules and it is important to remember your toddler is not being awkward, they are just learning.

One way your toddler will really learn socially acceptable behaviour and control tantrums is through positive reinforcement. It is part and parcel of human nature to enjoy receiving positive praise for actions and toddlers are no exception.

Positive reinforcement is often left out of parenting books and guides, but it really does form one of the most effective ways to control tantrums and your toddler’s behaviour.

So what is positive reinforcement?

There are two kinds of positive reinforcement you can us on your toddler to change their behaviour – although I strongly recommend you use a mix of both.

Verbal reinforcement

The first is verbal reinforcement. Verbal reinforcement is using your voice to tell your toddler how well they have done and how proud of them you are. Verbal reinforcement will help to improve your child’s self confidence and self esteem as well as their own vocabulary and communication skills.

Verbal communication helps to change your toddlers behaviour by focusing and rewarding positive behaviour. Your toddler will then want more praise and is more likely to try and behave how you would like them to. You are also giving your toddler a chance to be heard and get their own voice across which will help to control tantrums.

Physical reinforcement

Physical reinforcement involves hugging and kissing your child when they do well. It shows them they are loved and you are proud of them. It also makes them understand that you still love them even when you tell them off.

Positive reinforcement should be used as a way of rewarding positive behaviour, correcting their actions and changing your toddlers behaviour in a positive, loving way.

Ways to use positive reinforcement to tame the terrible twos and control tantrums

  • Praise them at every opportunity – Everyone likes being hugged and praised for something they have done and your toddler is no exception to that rule.

  • Focus on all the good things – If your toddler attempts to do something, praise and reward them for all the parts they get right, even if they don’t manage it all correctly. By focusing on all the good things, your child will realise it is OK to make mistakes. If your child fails at the task you have set them, you should encourage them to keep repeating it.

  • For every correction you make, should give compliment your toddler twice. This will help to build self esteem and confidence and they will not be so upset when something doesn’t work out the way they want it to.

  • Sit down with your toddler everyday and discuss what they have done. This is an absolute gold mine to praise your child for all their hard work through out the day. This also shows your toddler you have remembered their good behaviour and are proud of them.

  • No task is too small to praise your toddler. What might seem like an every day task to you could be your toddler’s equivalent of climbing Mount Everest.

When your toddler goes through the terible twos, they are learning everything from scratch and praising and encouraging the little things will go a long way to developing the bigger and more important life skills.

Praise and encouragement help your toddler to develop:

  • Self confidence
  • Self esteem
  • Ability to handle failure
  • Happiness
  • Social skills
  • Control Tantrums and frustration as they are given the chnce to express themselves.