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Conclusion for parenting the most aggressive stage of child development-the toddler-preschool stage. The parenting battle is often won or lost between children's ages 12 months and 4 years.

Parenting An Aggressive Toddler

Continued from Parenting An Aggressive Toddler

Loving Kindness and Loving Punishment:

Here's where I'll break with most modern psychologists and many parents.  Sometimes your child will need to be spanked to teach them, emotionally, what they can't yet reason out.   For some reason, being loving has been redefined to being popular.  The most important time to establish discipline is 12 months to 3 years.  If you handle it right at that time, things normally go very well occasional time-out or grounding later on.  Being too authoritarian or too permissive during this critical time can have serious consequences in their behavior and your relationship.  Spanking is best used as soon as disobedience is recognized...yes...they will disobey.  Here are the ground rules for loving kindness and punishment.  Loving kindness sets clear rules that don't change.  Changing the rules can be confusing.  Loving kindness sets rules that protect the children and teach them the proper values...not selfish rules that only serve the parents' interests (Don't talk while I'm watching T.V. is an example of a selfish rule).  Loving kindness consistently reminds and reinforces these rules, gives warning when they're about to break a rule, and punishes immediately every time the rule is purposefully broken.  You know when they're doing it on purpose, so don't think it's cute.  They're experimenting to see what's really important to you.  If you back down now, they will not listen later.  You're deciding with your actions which one of you will be in charge for the next 16 years.  This is not punishment out of anger, but out of love.  You punish them for touching the stove because they can get burnt, for running into the street because they could get run over, and for disobeying you because you are their protector, etc.  After about 6-12 months of this, done consistently, most parents will rarely have to even threaten punishment again.  My niece is the best parent I know, with two late teen kids that seem to have managed to avoid all the major kid problems and who love their parents openly.  Her advice on the punishment issue is, "Don't sweat the small stuff."  She never forced her kids to eat everything, for instance.  She found out what good foods they liked and served them only those.  Her philosophy comes from the idea that you only have so many "punishment chips" to use.  If you use them up on the little things, you won't have them when the big things happen. To sum it up, a loving parent is consistent, flexible and reliable...even when they punish.

Parenting Toddlers With Educational Toys:

One of the greatest technological achievements in our time normally goes unnoticed.  That is the use of microcircuits to apply video and sound to common toys.  The destructive use of this technology teaches older kids to practice violent and sexual behavior way too early, but there is a constructive side that can help your child live up to his or her potential.  On the beginning edge of this is dolls and trucks and other things that teach basic lessons to infants and toddlers.  The most sophisticated toys include educational software and easy-to-use teaching stations that apply visual and auditory signals and actually reward the kids for the right answers.  By the time my niece was 4, one of her uncles had her on beginning computer drawing and educational games.  She's now majoring in bio-chemistry at a university.  I'm not saying you can "program" your kid to be a rocket scientist, but why not invest in learning while it's still fun and easy for them?

Parenting Toddlers and Safety:

Unlike older children, toddlers have almost no experience for judgment, often can't communicate what has happened to them, and are highly mobile.  These two factors should drive all you do to protect them.  See our Child Personal Safety pages for special safety precautions.  See our Child Sexual Abuse pages for tips to prevent abuse, know when it has happened, and help your child recover if it has.

Finally, understand that no method is 100% effective.  It's likely that, if you balance example, kindness and loving punishment, you'll get to have a significant influence in your child's life.  Still, you can do all the right things and have it not work out.  More likely, like all humans, you'll make a mistake and not do everything exactly right.  Then what?  We can't do all or be all for our families no matter how we want to.  In the end, we all just do our best and pray that God makes it all work.  If things don't seem to be working just right, forgive the kids and then forgive yourself.  If you do something wrong, admit it and ask them to forgive you.  Then ask for God's help...he can make it all work.  If you want His help, click on God Help Me.

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