I wrote this post 2 years ago, but brushed it off and tidied it up a bit, because I thought some of my toddler-wrangling friends out there who never got to see it might find it helpful. Hope you enjoy.
As an additional part to the previous posts on the subject, I wanted to spend a little time discussing how to handle avoiding praise, punishment, and other coercive methods with little ones who are not yet developmentally capable of carrying on a full-fledged discussion about what they are feeling or needing, or a studied negotiation of solutions to the issues that inevitably arise. I work with lots of parents who get stuck on the idea that discussing things, and listening to what their children have to say doesn’t apply to them because they are dealing with a pre-verbal 2 year old. And I think it is true enough that between the “delicate distractions” which are regularly used with babies (whether or not they are preferable) and honest negotiations which are more appropriate for fully verbal children, there is a transitional void through the fledgling ego of the pre/early-verbal toddler.
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