I have been raising kids for nearly a decade now, and I can honestly say with confidence that I have great kids. They respect me and their father, and they respect their elders and/or anyone of authority. They are smart, well rounded, and kind/considerate of others. So I feel like I must be doing something right!
My first child was a really good baby! I rarely had to correct her behavior, but when I did, she was a stubborn one. She reminds me so much of myself. So with baby number one I quickly learned the art of distraction with her around the age of 1. Even at that age,she would nonverbally argue with me and fight hard to keep doing whatever it was that I didn’t want her to be doing. I discovered very early on in motherhood a few things that have worked and now, going through the toddler age for the third time, I’ve got it pretty nailed down.
Redirection- 1 year olds simply do not have the cognitive ability to understand why they are being disciplined. They know that you don’t want them to, but there is simply no reasoning with a child this age. I like to conjure up my most positive, excited voice and say something like, “Guess what mommy wants to show you!?”. In my experience, that’s all it takes, followed by taking them by the hand, leading them away, and getting them involved in another activity.
Limit your use of the word NO- I learned quickly that if you say the word “no” a lot, it is no longer useful. And there are times where it simply MUST be useful! For example, when your new walker tries to run into the street, or something where time is of the essence. Overusing the word NO takes away the effectiveness of it. In those situations, you must be able to get their attention and you will be thankful for it.
Praise/Reward the good behavior- One last piece of advice I have from my personal experience is praise! Praise is important at all ages, but when praising a toddler I like to overdo it a bit. Their little faces light up when they see how HAPPY you are with them, and I love to give my 1 year old a great big, over-the-top round of applause when he does something praiseworthy, like puts his blocks away whem hes finished with them, or when he uses ‘nice touches’ (no hitting), or even when he says a new word or reaches a new milestone. I think it’s so important to make them feel good about themselves so they actually have a strong desire to continue the good behavior.
I honestly think at this age it is more preventative than anything. And always be consistent in your actions so they can build their confidence. This is such a FUN age, but it is also when you are building that foundation and setting those boundaries!