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How can I set rules for my toddler?

How can I set rules for my toddler?

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My 16-month-old Gabriella is exploring her world more than ever. She’s also testing her boundaries. She’s beginning to see how far she can push things before she gets into trouble.

I want her to understand what she’s allowed — and not allowed — to do.

I’ve asked other moms: How can I start teaching her what the rules are? And, of course, answers varied. To spank and not to spank. To put her in isolation or simply say “no” and move on.

Boys Town recently released their Top 5 Strategies for Encouraging Kids’ Good Behavior. The national child care organization says that positive attention for good behavior is essential to limiting bad behavior.

Below are five ways to successfully promote your kids’ good behavior:

1. Make a list of the many good behaviors your child exhibits.

2. Rank from most to least how frequently each of those good behaviors is seen. Behaviors seen less frequently will require more attention than the ones seen more frequently.

3. Use a 5:1 ratio for delivery of your attention. For every bad behavior that gets your negative attention, find at least five good behaviors and give your positive attention to them.

4. Verbal attention in the form of praise. Acknowledgment is beneficial, but for young children particularly, physical affection is best. A hug or an affectionate touch with a comment or two is very powerful in promoting good behavior.

5. Catch them being good and let them know they got caught. Not only will your kids’ behaviors improve but so will your relationship with them.

Boys Town counsels families and schools across the country on the best parenting and discipline practices.

“Parenting is like caring for a lawn. Behaviors that are not well established require more water and fertilizer than those that have been around for awhile,” said Patrick Friman, director of Boys Town Center’s Behavioral Health, in a press release. “But we still need to remember that even those that have been around still require some water just as a long-standing garden requires care.”

For more information, visit The Boys Town National Hotline also offers free advice to parents 24/7. Call 1-800-448-3000.

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