Go from this: unhappy toddler

Go from this...

To this
To this: happy toddler

To this!

One child care provider's story: anger
management in children

Zoe was startled when she realized she had misunderstood—for more years than she'd like to count—the anger and misbehavior exhibited by the young children in her otherwise cheerful child care classroom.

After years of battling toddler temper tantrums and finding herself engaging in power struggles with children despite her best intentions, her answer turned out to be amazingly simple... and amazingly powerful.

The turnaround in her child care center came shortly after Zoe encountered child care consultant Kim Hughes. Open to any change that might help decrease the nearly daily child care discipline issues she was facing, she diligently followed Kim's advice.

It worked.

It began with the simplest and most humble task: changing diapers. And what Zoe learned to do while changing diapers transformed her relationship with the infants, toddlers, and young children in her child care center.

Kim called it the "I Love You Ritual". She urged Zoe to use each and every moment to intentionally create a relationship, from a simple diaper change to her interactions with the children during active learning activities. During a diaper change, for instance, Zoe learned to incorporate touch, eye contact, presence—fully being in the moment—and a playful spirit.

During the very next diaper change, Zoe smiled and made eye contact as she tickled the little toddler boy under his chin, and he squirmed and giggled. She tweaked his cheek and as she began undoing the diaper, she sang a song written by the creator of Conscious Discipline®, Dr. Becky Bailey:

"Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
What a wonderful child you are!
With big bright eyes and rosy cheeks,
Talented child from head to feet.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
What a wonderful child you are!"

She tweaked his cheek again on the "rosy cheeks" as she finished this time of intentional relationship building, and he smiled.

Kim also showed her how to maintain her composure even on the occasional bad day when she was faced with a child out of control. By keeping her composure, Zoe encouraged the child to "catch" her calmness, and before long, found she could head off toddler temper tantrums before they began as the children in her child care center “downloaded” her calm attitude.

As she incorporated these simple rituals and tips into her days at the child care center, she began to notice that children who were ordinarily fussy or angry had become calmer. A baby who used to cry and cry was now easily soothed. Her bond with each child became indescribably stronger.

Kim nodded when Zoe expressed her delight and surprise the following week. Distress or anger in children—whether exhibited in toddler temper tantrums, endless crying, attention seeking behaviors, bullying, or withdrawn behavior—can play out in many ways, she explained, but they all come down to the same issue. Troubled children are seeking connections, and building and maintaining genuine connections increases not only compliance but each child's feelings of security and happiness.

Today Zoe spends far less of each day disciplining children, and when she must, her approach to discipline is much more effective. More importantly, her work within the child care environment is so much more rewarding.

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