Beneath his difficult behavior, your little one is still the same sweet toddler you know and love.
When your friend’s children behaved terribly you probably gave her a sympathetic look and a noncommittal, “Kids will be kids,” while secretly thinking that your kids will never, ever act like that. Then you had kids; and you regret every haughty, “My children will never behave like that.” The truth is that kids will be kids, and you may not always like your difficult child. However, your child’s behavior is not punishment for your pre-parenting thoughts. As a Catholic mom, your job is to regain control of your child’s difficult behavior using a Catholic approach – it’s a lot less expensive than Swiss boarding school.
1Understand that your toddler or preschooler’s difficult behavior is not always as difficult as you think it is. For example, say your child is jumping over the back of the couch at your parent’s house and you are tempted to put him in time-out or remove one of his privileges. If your kids are allowed to jump over the back of your couch at home and this is only bothering you because your parents are totally judging you, your child does not deserve punishment. Instead, sit him down and explain that he can do that at home but not in the homes of others.
2Use a zero-tolerance policy in your house, advises Thomas Lickona of the Catholic Education Resource Center. Your kids should know immediately what they are and are not allowed to do based on your reaction. For example, if your child is running in the house and you tell him to stop in an authoritative tone, he should stop. When you put an end to a child’s misbehavior immediately, it helps him realize that you will not tolerate that type of behavior, and he will be less likely to try it again in the future. Call your mom and ask her to teach you how to give your own kids the "look" she gave you when you were growing up. You know the one. The one she used to silently tell you that you were in for it.
3Ensure whatever punishment you enforce when your child misbehaves fits his crime, advises CatholicCulture.org. For example, if your child doesn’t turn off the television and go to bed when you tell him to, turn it off for him and tell him he cannot watch television for a few days instead of grounding him from going to his friend’s birthday party. When the punishment fits the crime it makes it far easier for children to understand what they did wrong and why they are currently suffering this form of punishment.
4Love your child – even when you’re trying to remember why you had one in the first place. According to Lickona, loving your child is one way to handle a difficult child with a Catholic approach. One way to express your love is through praise and pride when your child behaves and when he accomplishes something. When you do this, it makes him feel good and it makes him feel connected to you. When that happens, he’s less likely to exhibit difficult behavior in the future because he understands good behavior comes with positive praise.